Having recently moved to the port settlement of Lyttelton in the early 2000s I was scoping out the local school when I spotted the coolest kid I had ever seen.

A boy aged about 10 wearing big mirror shades and a propeller cap was sauntering his way back to the classroom.

"Look at that cool kid," I said to my daughter Alex who was also about 10.

"Aw, he looks like a dick," was her charitable response.


The kid was Marlon Williams who would grow up to become one of our most celebrated musical talents and he is about to play in Whanganui.

Briefly back in Lyttelton after a year of frantic international touring, a Silver Scroll Award and a part in Bradley Cooper's Hollywood blockbuster A Star is Born, Williams is enjoying a bit of well-earned relaxation.

"I hope to spend more time in New Zealand and Australia this year and gather my thoughts," he says.

He won't have much time to relax just yet however as he is about to embark on his homecoming Tūrangawaewae tour and will play at the Royal Wanganui Opera House next week.

"I have played in Whanganui before but it was a while ago and very low key.

"I am excited about playing at the Opera House."

Williams has just released a new live album Live at Auckland Town Hall with a track listing of 21songs.

The album includes tracks from his 2018 album Make Way for Love.


Williams and his band The Yarra Benders recently completed an Australian stadium and winery tour with English indie rock band Florence and the Machine.

Singer Florence Welsh and Williams performed a duet of his song Nobody Gets What They Want Anymore.

"That was truly memorable," says Williams.

"Halfway through the tour she asked her band to learn the song and we performed it in front of 27,000 people."

I make the observation that their two voices sounded quite similar during the performance and he agrees.

"Yes, we're both quite chameleon-like and I think we kind of pitched our voices towards each other."

Welsh and her band were a joy to tour with he says and she was "just so full of love."

Collaborations are something Williams does well and he has performed and recorded with The Eastern, Delaney Davidson, Tami Neilson, Barry Saunders and the Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra to name but a few.

He hopes to do many more collaborations and the possibilities are boundless it seems.

"I recently recorded an EP with Saskatchewan artist Kacy Anderson.

"She usually performs with her cousin Clayton Linthicum as Kacy and Clayton and when I first heard them I thought they were an old-time band but they are only in their 20s."

Williams is supported on his Tūrangawaewae tour by Wellington-based folk/pop performer Emily Fairlight who will open for him at the Opera House

Marlon Williams: Tūrangawaewae tour with Emily Fairlight. Royal Wanganui Opera House, Monday, February 17 at 7.30pm. Tickets A reserve $67 - B reserve $55.50. Book at Ticketek