Having kicked off their 22-date tour in Kaitaia last week, with stopoffs in Kerikeri, Whangarei, and Dargaville before reaching Auckland, this year's 12-strong Fly My Pretties cast have been literally absorbing inspiration from Aotearoa for their current Homeland tour. And there was a real good-old-days sense of nostalgia to the whole show. Having partnered with the Alexander Turnbull Library and National Library of New Zealand, they had some intriguing scratchy imagery to accompany the songs, including amazing footage of Ngauruhoe erupting in 1975, or a young boy doing handsprings. And the old-worldy Mercury Theatre was the perfect setting for the group to hark back to the more rootsy, alt-folk-country sounds of their early albums.
Of the 12 cast members involved this time, seven are fresh faces, which made for an evening of many new and unfamiliar songs.
Guitar master Kara Gordon opened the show with a little banjo-led number about their touring band, weaving his guitar parts around a chorus of twittering birds and a chorus of crickets, and proved his worth as an impressive soloist throughout the night. Anika Moa seemed the perfect addition to the cast, her cheeky crowd banter as entertaining as her songs. She'd written two in particular for a friend "Arika Roa" who's been having a really hard year, and though she was happy to play the role of class clown, her song These Lonely Tears I Cry For You which opened the second half was really quite poignant. Enigmatic 18-year-old Louis McDonald (from Auckland trio Five Mile Town) seemed entirely at ease on a stage with his older peers, and provided one of the highlights of the evening with his track Headlights, and Wellington band-leader of John The Baptist, Shaun Blackwell, got the crowd dancing with Beggin' On My Knees.
Westport girl Mel Parsons was a great upbeat counterpoint to some of the moodier songs, while Ria Hall was every inch the diva, commanding attention with her new track One. Of course Barnaby Weir was the consummate band leader as per usual, so ably helming favourites like Bag Of Money and Let's Roll, but credit must go to the rhythm section (most of whom have been involved since the beginning) for creating an effortlessly solid groove throughout.
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Who: Fly My Pretties Homeland Tour
Where: Mercury Theatre