Barry Gibb announces return to New Zealand

By Tim Roxborogh

As Barry Gibb announces his return to New Zealand, he caught up with Newstalk ZB’s Tim Roxborogh.
Barry Gibb will return to New Zealand in 2017.
Barry Gibb will return to New Zealand in 2017.

Barry Gibb is sounding chipper, clearly on a high with all the positive talk surrounding In The Now - a collection of 12 new songs - that arrives 15 years after the final ever Bee Gees album, This Is Where I Came In.

The record will see him tour Australia and New Zealand next year, touching down in Auckland on April 11 to play Vector Arena.

As a Bee Gee, Barry wrote more than 20 different US or UK number-one hits, selling over 200 million records in the process, but he explains there was never much appetite from their record company for solo albums. "They wanted 'the Bee Gees' and that really made everything a little more uphill. You couldn't step out like Phil Collins was able to step out of Genesis."

Not to mention the youngest Gibb brother Andy (1988) who was a teen idol in the late 70s, Barry now has "the opportunity to record the music I really want to record".

Which doesn't mean he isn't missing his siblings, revealing he always senses they're alongside him when he's onstage. More than that, he also believes he's been visited by his brothers since they died: "I've seen Robin in the house [and my wife] Linda's seen Andy at our house in England. And when all my brothers were gone I started having very vivid dreams of all three of them with me which was extremely rare. But they looked great!"

The emotion he feels at losing his brothers is heard on one of the new album's tracks, End Of The Rainbow, while the lady who's helped him through that grief, his wife of 46 years, Linda, is the inspiration for Star Crossed Lovers. Elsewhere there's the clear sonic blueprint of Bruce Springsteen on the autobiographical Home Truth Song, a song Barry says is all about "bluster and ambition."

Bruce and Barry have never met, but Barry was so blown away by Bruce's cover of Stayin' Alive during his last Australian tour that he delved seriously into The Boss's catalogue for the first time. Home Truth Song is a result of that, whereas other songs on In The Now are Barry intentionally evoking the melodic structures of peers like Carole King and Roy Orbison.

It's not just Bruce and The E Street Band who've shown their recent enthusiasm for Stayin' Alive with Coldplay's Chris Martin calling it "the greatest song of all time," while onstage with Barry at this year's Glastonbury.

"Ahh, well, a little too kind perhaps," laughs Barry when asked for his reaction to those words. I also tell him how I loved how casual he was when he walked out onstage to the cheers of 120,000 very excited, very muddy people.

Guitar in hand, the then 69-year old creator of so many of the most played songs of the 20th century - from the Beatle-esque days of To Love Somebody and Massachusetts to the dance-floor-fillers of You Should Be Dancing and Night Fever to the written-to-order pop classics for other artists like Woman In Love and Islands In The Stream - strolled to the mic and said, "Evening all!"

It was as if he'd walked into a barbecue, not the most famous music festival on the planet. Admitting it was a good kind of "terrifying", Barry says that whether the Bee Gees were working "10 people or 10,000 people", he always feels in concert like he's at home and "like I'm amongst friends".

And the good news for those Kiwi "friends" is that he's planning to start his world tour for In The Now in New Zealand and Australia next year.

LOWDOWN:
Who: Barry Gibb
What: New album In The Now is out now
Tour: Performing at Vector Arena on April 11, 2017.
Tickets: Tickets on sale October 20.

For more from Tim Roxborogh's interview with Barry Gibb, see RoxboroghReport.com.

- NZ Herald

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