A long weekend is a good weekend, as the saying goes. So once you have paid your respects at dawn service on Friday, here are a few ideas to keep you entertained for the rest of the (very busy) weekend:

1: Jason Derulo, Vector Arena, Thursday

He's the man who can't help shouting his own name, but Jason Derulo has a lot to sing about right now. After a forced hiatus in 2012 due to injury, the 2012 Pop Songwriter of the Year is back on the job, and with hits like Talk Dirty To Me and The Other Side, is better than ever. After all, not everyone can hit 25 million sales worldwide.

2: Flip Grater, Wine Cellar, Thursday night


Kiwi acts now based in various other cities also descend on Auckland this weekend, with smokey balladeer Flip Grater returning from a Paris sojourn with her gorgeous album, Pigalle, and a show at the Wine Cellar tonight, and Melbourne-based gentlemen Five Mile Town back home to promote their latest folk-pop single The Lucky Ones at the Kings Arms, tonight also. Another rising songbird, Lyttelton's Aldous Harding is celebrating a beautiful debut album in Auckland this weekend with gigs at Golden Dawn on Friday and Portland Public House on Sunday.

3: The Amazing Spider-Man 2: Rise of Electro, in cinemas now

One of the biggest films of the year is finally here. With real-life lovebirds Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone back together as Peter Parker and Gwen Stacey, and Jaime Foxx turning it up as bad guy Electro, it's packed with star power to bring Spidey's search for the truth to life.

4: Half of a Yellow Sun, in cinemas now

Before becoming an Academy Award nominee for 12 Years A Slave and a household name, Chiwetel Ejiofor was cast in this sweeping period drama, set and filmed in Nigeria. Based on the 2006 Orange Prize-winning novel of the same name, it's a multifaceted love story, following twin sisters (Thandi Newton and Anika Noni Rose) and their partners, as Nigeria descends into civil war in the late 60s.

5: Joss Stone and India.Arie, Vector Arena, Friday

The first in a wave of Byron Bay Bluesfest sideshows this weekend, this is a rare, very talented, musical double bill. A return to New Zealand shores for Stone, it's the first time here for Arie, who has been nominated for 21 Grammy Awards (and won four of them), and has sold more than 10 million albums over her illustrious career.

6: The Doobie Brothers, Civic Theatre, Friday


A bit of blues, a touch of soul and a heap of rock and roll. That's what legendary Californian band The Doobie Brothers promise to serve up when then play in Auckland this weekend. The eight-piece band - complete with founding members Tom Johnston and Pat Simmons - will deliver hits like Listen To The Music, Black Water and Takin' It To The Streets.

7: The Big Show on the Shore - International Comedy Showcase, Bruce Mason Centre, Friday

It's hard to know where to start with the New Zealand International Comedy Festival sometimes - so many names, but just who is going to make you giggle like a school girl? That's where these showcases come in handy. With seven international comedians all in one spot, including Sara Pascoe, Carl Donnelly and John Robins, think of this as a taster - try a little now, and come back for more of what you like later.

8: Steve Earle and the Dukes, Powerstation, Saturday

Though it's always tempting to leave the city for a long weekend, if you are in Auckland for the next few days, you are very lucky. Seminal songwriter (and lately turned occasional TV star) Steve Earle is one of the acts heading here from the Bluesfest, and though he gets down here once every couple of years, this time he'll be bringing his band, The Dukes, to celebrate new album The Low Highway.

9: John Mayer, Vector Arena, Saturday

To get away from the bad boy image, back in 2012 John Mayer headed off to a quiet ranch in Montana to write his fifth album. Montana obviously helped reinvigorate Mayer, because he came away with an easy 12 tracks steeped in the influence of 60s and 70s bluegrass and soft rock, and then went back to write another album - last year's Paradise Valley, which upped his game, particularly if you're a fan of his well-documented talent on the guitar. And it seems those nimble fingers should be a highlight of Saturday's show, along with his equally snappy band. Coincidentally, if you're a fan of his guitarist, Zane Carney (a young man cited as one of America's best), he'll be playing a more intimate gig on Friday evening at UFO in New Lynn with Kiwi acts Rough Church and River's Edge.

10: Elvis Costello, Civic Theatre, Sunday

Another bespectacled muso, returning after two years' absence, and with another album released (last year's Wise Up Ghost with the Roots), is Elvis Costello. Bringing his more regular musical partners The Imposters, they will be playing some tunes from Wise Up Ghost, but, as Costello says, "They are a completely different animal when played by The Imposters." Of course there will be plenty else from his wild and wayward 30-album back catalogue, and perhaps fans might also get to hear something from his recent contributions to an upcoming Bob Dylan project with T-Bone Burnett.

- nzherald.co.nz