Brighton, Lawrence Arabia and The Phoenix Foundation

May was very rich in live music I saw that month. After Sundance London, I took two week holiday. The first week I was in The Phoenix Foundation bliss. The guys came back to tour the UK and Europe to promote their new album, Fandango and for me seeing my favourite band from New Zealand just once is not enough.

On Monday May 13th, I went to Brighton to see them at Audio. I went early to spend all day in town, because I hadn’t been there yet. Brighton is very close to London and train tickets are very cheap if bought in advance, so I don’t know why I waited so long. I guess I needed an excuse and the concert was the best one.

From the distance, the Clocktower looked like if it was covered with feathers. When you got closer, you could see that they were shirts being moved by the wind.

I took my new little camera for this trip to save space in my backpack (I stayed over night at a hostel and I didn’t want to carry too much all day). I also didn’t know how long my new camera’s battery would last, so after taking photos through out the day, I was able to record just four or five songs in the evening. Mostly they were of supporting act, Lawrence Arabia.

If you don’t know yet, that I have created and run a fansite about The Phoenix Foundation, this is the best time to reveal it to you, because I’ve already written about their Brighton concert and posted my videos over there. So, if you’re interested in more details about the show, here they are. A few awesome things happened that evening (apart from seeing the guys again after two years and giving them a hug and hearing the new material live): meeting their new drummer, Chris and hearing my name and the name of my website being said by Sam from the stage. What a surreal feeling! On the next day, I find a review of the show in The Guardian with a link to my website! This is serious…

On Tuesday, I continued my TPF marathon. I took my sister and her boyfriend and we saw the band at Electric Ballroom in London, which was I think the best concert of the Phoenixes I’ve seen so far. More about it on my website. On Wednesday, the band had a short set at Rough Trade East music store in the afternoon. Videos here. I was saving my camera this time, because I knew that Sam, Luke and Chris would go in the evening to Lawrence Arabia’s concert at Sebright Arms to help his friend. I was happy I could capture some of the unique moments, like Luke’s first time playing Early Kneecappings on bass guitar or Sam rapping his Dalston Junction song. It’s all here.

In my original plans, I was thinking of following them to Bristol, but then I thought it would be too much. James (Lawrence Arabia) was tempting me having a bit of a laugh at me, but Sam promised they wouldn’t play anything that I hadn’t heard at least three times. I calmed them down that it was the last time they saw me on that tour and I would be flying to Poland next day.

And so I did. I spent the following week at my home looking after my cats while my parents went to a holiday resort by the sea.

Fly My Pretties – my own birthday present

I started celebrating my birthday on Saturday, even though it was on Monday. I had bought a ticket for the Fly My Pretties IV show before I came to New Zealand. The ticket was pretty expensive, $91.50, but I could have never hoped that they would play when I’m in New Zealand, so as soon as they announced their tour dates and I saw their Wellington concert was close to my birthday, I thought it would be a nice present for myself.

SATURDAY, 19th November

The concert was in the evening and I didn’t want to go wearing one of my t-shirts. After breakfast I went to look for something nicer to wear that evening. There were many second hand shops near Cuba Street and even The Fringe Bar was open for vintage clothes market. I bought a black shirt for $4 and a pretty dress for $20. I wore the shirt, because my burnt in Kaikoura shoulders weren’t ready for the dress yet.

Doors were open at 7 pm and the show was to start at 8 pm. They were late about 20 min. I had heard that Jemaine from FOTC was in Wellington and I was wondering if he would came to the show. Just in case, I was looking around before the show and during the intermission and to my surprise, I saw Bret instead! I knew he had been in the US for The Muppets premiere a few days before and I was happy to see him already back in New Zealand.

The concert was amazing. I was sitting in the third row. We couldn’t take any photos, but there is a great set in FMP’s facebook album, so take a look.

Every new project by Fly My Pretties is something to look forward to, because it’s a great collaboration of different New Zealand musicians with various musical background and the result is always unique. The shows are recorded and a few months later there’s a new album & DVD released. Now you can understand why I was so excited to be part of their history and at the show, after first two songs I finally realised that I was watching FMP live!

Part One was a set of 16 new songs which will be on their new album released in February next year. I had my favourites, mostly more peaceful ones like “Apple Heart” by L.A. Mitchell, “Three Feathers” by Amiria Grenell or “I Am Gone” by Flip Grater. But the most important song for me was Barnaby Weir’s “Journeys End”. I took it very personal. I had been away from home for four months, had spent three months travelling around New Zealand, just got back from the South Island and was wondering what next and when Barnaby introduced his song, I thought he was talking to and about me. I got the answer.

During Part Two they played songs from their previous albums. It’ll be always my dream to hear “Champion” or “Quiet Girl” live and it didn’t happen at that concert, but I was almost equally glad to hear “Old Friend” or “Lucky”. It was also really nice that they sang “All The Goodness” which was co-written by Bret McKenzie and since he was in the audience, I was wondering how he felt hearing it.

The concert finished at about midnight and I rushed to San Francisco Bath House, because Flying Nun had their 30th Anniversary Tribute Show and some bands played tribute songs. The Phoenix Foundation was one of them and I was wondering what songs they had chosen, but unfortunately by the time I got there, they had already finished playing. It was a short set of four songs and an enchore. But the band members were still around in the bar, so I got to talk to some of them and said goodbye. Luke, before he left, sang me a few lines of Pulp’s “Sylvia”.

I didn’t know that song, and he made me feel special. And he didn’t know that I was celebrating my birthday, so even it was so random, I took it as another birthday gift. Then I got long hugs from Richie and Tom, finished listening to Glass Vaults and went back to the backpackers. Satisfied.

The Phoenix Foundation and Fabulous/Arabia

FRIDAY, 7th October

More and more rugby fans were arraving in Wellington for the Quarter Finals. I checked out from my hostel in the morning, but I chilled out in the launge, then went to the Library. I was waiting for my hosts to come back home from work, so I could leave my bag and go to see The Phoenix Foundation at the Fanzone and later Fabulous/Arabia at Mighty Mighty.

Later that afternoon I got a text from J. they were back. J.&R. are my second CouchSurfing hosts. They’re a young couple living on Mt Cook at the end of upper Cuba Street. She’s a New Zealander a couple years younger than me and he’s from the Netherlands (a very hard accent which my ear had to tune into). R. is in my age. He came for his friends’ wedding over three years ago and met J., found a job and so he’s still here. They’re planning to go to South America next year for a six week holiday.

Wellington is a very small world. R. used to share a flat with The Phoenix Foundation’s manager, Matt and sometimes Dan from The Black Seeds visited their place. 😀

We had pizza for dinner and I rushed to the Rugby Village Fanzone. J.&R. joined me later. I was late, so I missed recording first two songs, “Let Me Die A Woman” and “Bitte Bitte”. The rest is all here. The set was similar to the one from last week but in a different order. And they played “Supernatural” again, which I already love.

The crowd was bigger than the week before and luckily the weather got better, although it was still pretty cold. The guys seemed to enjoy themselves.

After the concert I met up with J.&R. They were tired and decided not to go to the Mighty Mighty with me. They gave me the key to his home and said, I could come back whenever I wanted.

I was early enough at the Mighty Mighty to find a seat. Slowly the bar was filling up with the people from the Fanzone. Going pass the bar, I saw Warner Emery, ex-bass player of The Phoenix Foundation. I was wondering what he was doing now, because I haven’t heard about him for a while. As I found out later, he was a supporting act. He got dressed up in a funny suit, wore sunglasses and a witch nose. He played not my type of music, but if you were interested in listening to it, I can still send you the link.

Fabulous/Arabia started playing at around 11:30 p.m. The band consists of Mike Fabulous, who plays the guitar in The Black Seeds (and of course there are many other projects he’s involved in) and Lawrence Arabia whose real name is James Milne. They’ve just released an album, Unlimited Buffet. Mike made music to James’s lyrics and they’re giving just three concerts in New Zealand in Wellington, Auckland and Nelson. The CD is great, but live is even better. It was pretty loud, but I think the recording came out quite well.

I found a video with a song Southern Gentleman from this show.

Some better photos in an awesome photoset on flickr, but not mine. I decided to stay in one place to have a decent sound. I saw there were photographers, so I was hoping some good shots will come up on the internet anyway.

After the concert I talked to Luke from The Phoenix Foundation and then Hayden from the band which had just played, I was introduced to James Milne, saw other guys from TPF, Nige from WIUO and there were probably many more musicians that I wasn’t aware of.

It was already 1:30 a.m. when I left the Mighty Mighty. I didn’t want to be too late at my new hosts’. Besides, it was too much for my fangirl heart.

three days of rain

MONDAY to WEDNESDAY, 3-5 October

After the amazing and sunny weekend in Porirua, Wellington welcomed me back as I remembered it from my first visit, rainy and gloomy. I returned to the YHA hostel but most of my time I spent at the Library wasting my time on the Internet, just like I used to spend my time at home. I caught up on my blogs and websites, but the most important thing, i.e. looking for job was left at the end. When I started browsing the immigration and seek job sites, I was getting more and more discouraged and stressed out. I’m really bad at looking for job. I don’t know how I survived until now. Probably I’m spoiled by the safe environment of my country. Usually it was work that found me, not me it.

To relax myself, I was going for walks when it wasn’t raining, which was rarely. I went to Newtown and tried delicious burger at Monterey. A small, but very cool place. You could tell that most of the customers were regulars.

Newtown. Monterey is on the right side, not in the photo here.

I also went to Fidel’s café. As I was drinking my coffee (very strong and good), Richie from The Phoenix Foundation parked his car in front of it. He noticed me, we smiled, waved to each other, said ‘hi’ and off he went his way. I love Wellington for moments like that.

A statue on the waterfront behind Te Papa.

All Blacks V The Phoenix Foundation

THURSDAY, 29th Sept.

I still have three levels of Te Papa to see, but Thursday wasn’t the best day to go there, because the weather was so lovely that I just went for a walk along the waterfront. There are many little shops by the water. I went into Maori Arts Gallery and was surprised how cheap they had souvenirs which are sometimes twice more expensive at Visitor Centres. I was about to pay for a gift for my mum, when I heard the seller’s voice “Hey, you! I know who you are. Come here!” I looked up and I saw Ali Williams coming into the shop! He was so tall that he had to bow his head to get through the door frame. He was dressed casually, a t-shirt and shorts with jersey tied over his hips. He was smiling, looking around and humbly did whatever you asked him for. It happened so unexpected! I took my journal out and gave him to sign it. The lady gave him her Visitor Book.

Ali was still signing her book, when she said, “Oh! There’s that pretty one!” And someone or maybe it was me said, “That’s Dan Carter!” He was on the quay already signing and being photographed, but there weren’t many people around him. I took my journal and he signed it too.

I totally forgot that I had a camera in my phone, but it was so fast. I was also surprised he was my height and even more handsome in person, very gentle and patient. When there was no one around him, he looked around and run away 😀 Or maybe he was jogging and he was disturbed by his fans and just continued what he had been doing. 😛

I went back to the shop to finish the business and now every time my mum will be wearing that little gift I’ll be remembering the day when I met two All Blacks. 🙂

When I left, the lady stood out in front of her shop in hope to see more players. I took a walk along Cuba Street.

My possible future carrier?


Late afternoon, I spent at the Library. They have free WiFi, if you use your own computer, but you have to log in every 30 minutes. Very annoying but it’s better than paying $4 per hour at the internet café.

After dinner at the hostel, I went to the Rugby Village Fanzone. The Phoenix Foundation gave a free concert and they were great, as usual.

You can hear it yourself. I love their new song, Supernatural, which is at about 27min30sec.

More my photos and someone’s videos I found on YouTube are on my other website. After the concert I talked to Luke, Sam and Richie. Last time I saw them it was in London in February this year and now I’m here. Luke admitted it was weird to see me here, but also great. True. I couldn’t believe that as well.

Another portion of TPF I’ll have on Friday.

chilling out in Hamilton

WEEKEND, 24th & 25th Sept.

I was planning to go to Rotorua for one day just as I did with my trip to Matamata, but when I started checking out what I want and should see there, I realized that I need to stay more days there. So I’ll try to organise my visit another day. Besides, I was already a bit tired after busy days in Bay of Islands and E. didn’t mind me staying home, so I took a weekend off.

Most of my time I spent watching tv, mainly rugby, American shows and dangerously addictive Shortland Street, catching up on the Internet and playing with E.’s cats.

On Saturday, E. took me to her friend, who lived in the middle of nowhere, on a birthday party. I think one of tourist attractions of Kiwi Experience or Magic Bus should be a Kiwi birthday party. Oh, I forgot they’re not really interested in showing day-to-day life of New Zealanders.

First we were outside, just a couple of K.’s friends. Then, when it was getting dark and cold, we moved to the garage. After some time K.’s family and neighbours started arriving, everyone with their own beer, wine or other drinks. K.’s dad lit up the barbecue and soon some sausages were ready. I nearly tried a chicken kebab, which looked like shashlik, but they were very popular and too few. But I had unintentional Flight of the Conchords moment. When they served kebabs, I remembered the song Most Beautiful Girl (In the Room) and at the same time Free Bird by Lynyrd Skynyrd played on a stereo, which the Conchords also made a twisted version of. 😀

other food was cheese, cheaps, crackers and dips and of course pies. People were usually standing, talking and sipping from their bottles or glasses while in Poland we sit at the table, drink vodka and some people believe that the sooner you get drunk the better party it is. Well, at least this is my observation. So I did enjoy the evening and we left the party early enough to watch the All Blacks playing with France and WINNING! 😀

Charlie and Molly

A couple of random photos taken in Hamilton:

Christmas is coming

Just because I like The Phoenix Foundation, posters like that make my heart go faster 🙂

And next time I’m in Auckland, I should take a photo of an ad with Dan Carter. 😉