Outsiders beat the field at NZ Music Awards

Plenty of talent across the local music spectrum was at October's NZ Music Awards, but comedy duo Flight of the Conchords got the most notable trophy haul of the night.

They were not in Auckland to collect them but responded comically via
a TV screen from the United States when the trophies mysteriously appeared before them.

Breakthrough Artist and International Achievement awards were
gratefully accepted but there was probably a genuine element in Bret
McKenzie and Jemaine Clement's response to the Best Group and Best Album

"We're barely a group - there's only two of us. Phoenix Foundation should have won this," McKenzie said.

"It's Best Album. I don't even agree with this one. That's not true, I'm not accepting that one," Clement said as the pair got their fourth gong for the night.

They missed out on Grammy awards in September, but their popularity in the US and back home certainly made them worthy of recognition.

While questions were raised as to whether the music industry was the
right place for them to receive that recognition, the Conchords' awards were backed by strong New Zealand sales of their first album.

It stayed in the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand's top 10 from May until September, including a stint at No 1.

Op Shop was the other big winner. The album Second Hand Planet and radio-friendly hits such as Maybe and One Day ensured the band also got a four-trophy haul.

The album spent most of January at the top of the charts and kept selling strongly for several months, winning the Highest Selling
Album award.

Top 10 showings came from bands and musicians as diverse as Shihad, Prince Tui Teka - who died in 1985 - and Geoff Sewell to Ladi 6,
Tiki Taane and Rob Guest whose death in October, aged 58, shocked the
Australasian entertainment industry.

One of New Zealand's most recognisable musicians, Dave Dobbyn, produced yet another album, Anotherland, which went to No 2, and rock institution Shihad went one better with Beautiful Machine.

Long-established band The Feelers was still popular, crashing the charts at No 1 with a collection of favourites from the past 10 years.

On the global stage, New Zealand enjoyed visits from many international acts as Auckland's Vector Arena cemented itself as the world-class large indoor entertainment venue the city - and country - had been
missing for years.

While Wellington and Christchurch often missed out on the bigger drawcards, Vector Arena hosted some of the world's top artists, including Elton John, the Foo Fighters, Stevie Wonder, Rod Stewart, Duran Duran, Def Leppard, Billy Joel, Kanye West and Kylie Minogue.

Some of these artists have been around for decades but it hasn't
affected their pulling power, a factor which may have been a catalyst for a series of bands and artists resurfacing or reforming over the past 12 months.

Some of the more notable of those included internationals The Who, AC/DC and The Verve, while Guns N' Roses resurfaced with their first album in 13 years - although singer Axl Rose is the only one remaining from the
band's 1980s and 1990s heyday.

Rage Against the Machine was another band to reform before working
this year's Big Day Out crowd in Auckland into a frenzy when they unleashed their anger on the tens of thousands of fans who had been waiting all day for them.

Those people learned several months later that the next Big Day Out, on
January 16, would be headlined by one of rock's most enduring names -
Canadian Neil Young.

The Big Day Out's Australasia co-organiser Ken West labelled Young one of music's visionaries who had - and would - stand the test of time, batting away any suggestions the Canadian rocker was the wrong choice for a traditionally young crowd.

"To be able to get Neil Young when he is playing, for lack of a better term, a greatest hits set ... he is not going to do that again because he's not like that," West said.

"It's been 22 years since he's been to New Zealand, this is probably it."

On the local front, a few rock acts from the past, including Head Like a Hole, have also announced returns to the stage.

Weta, the Headless Chickens and Blindspott are others who have decided to get back together.


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