Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra at Union Chapel

I had never thought that I would see Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra on the Northern Hemisphere, but they were invited to the Edinburgh Fringe this year, hit the goal on Pledge Me (NZ version of Kickstarter) to get the funds for the trip and gave one off sold out show in London on 29th August on their way back home after performing for over a month at the Festival.

I couldn’t believe I would see them on stage at Union Chapel where I had already seen Glen Hansard, Kimbra, Andy McKee and in December am going to see two NZ music legends, Dave Dobbyn and Don McGlashan.

I went to see WIUO with V., my best companion in watching Kiwi acts. I was coming late straight from work, but luckily V. could come earlier and thanks to her we had great seats in the second row right in the centre. It was no photo, no filming restriction show, but I managed to lift my camera high enough to film something and I’m happy I did that. Some things are worth risking to save them.

The show was in two parts. The first part was mostly the songs from their latest EP, I Love You and well known hits. The second part were new songs or the songs they’ve performed live for many years, but haven’t released yet. Flawless performances, brilliant audience, some people hassled the band to play “Common People”, which WIUO finally did, some people danced, even almost took over the stage for a moment. All in all, everything in atmosphere of great family and friends festivity and fun.

Paul Simon’s “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover” was the last song of part 1, that’s why I got braver and when I heard new tunes I turned my camera on.

This was my highlight of the concert: Stevie Nicks & Tom Petty’s “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around”

I didn’t know where to point my camera, because there was A LOT happening on stage during this song – Salt ‘n’ Pepa’s “Push It”

This is almost the end of the show. Thank yous, introducing the band and because I wanted to film the whole band, I lifted my camera too high and got noticed by the Chapel staff. That’s why it’s not the whole song: David Kilgour’s “Today Is Gonna Be Mine”

In the videos you can notice a hooded person on the right. She was filming the show, so let’s hope that there are going to be some official videos from WIUO.

After the show I was able to talk to Gemma, Megan, Nige and Age. I was wondering if they’d remember their Polish fan they met in Wellington two years ago. When I came up to Gemma, she welcomed me, ‘Sylwia!’ and gave me a big hug. When I saw Age and told him, ‘Greetings from Poland!’ he said, ‘I remember you!’. He said they were planning to come back next year and have a proper UK tour and I almost ended up being their manager when he saw my enthusiasm. No connections, though. 😉

To sum up the evening,

The Woolshed Sessions and The Yoots

SUNDAY, 9th October

The intoxication continues.

Another late night resulted with another late morning. I was really deep in my work on my blog when I realized it was already time to go and see The Woolshed Sessions. Walking closer to the stage in Courtenay Place, I heard their first chords.

In half an hour there were the Yoots to play (recommended by Mike Fabulous), so J.&R. and me waited in one of the cafes near the stage. I ordered kumara chilli fries. Yum!

Soon we saw the band taking the stage. I saw again a couple familiar faces, like Dan from WIUO and Will from The Phoenix Foundation.

Their songs were singalongs, so there was a board with lyrics to help the audience with the singing.

Or sometimes there were songs with motions

They finished before 6 p.m. I caught Dan to sign my WIUO EP, because I didn’t meet him on Thursday. He was better now and he told me he always wanted to visit Poland. I was surprised and honoured! 😀

I wanted to see The Nudge and thought they would be playing later, but then I found the schedule and they had already played at 1 a.m. Maybe another time I’ll be more lucky.

At 6 p.m. the streets of Wellington got empty and quiet. The capital and 25,000 visitors were watching rugby, Springboks being beaten by the Wallabies. I watched the match back at home. Dan recommended me another jazz band playing that evening at Happy, but when I got home, I felt comfortable and lazy and didn’t want to go outside anymore. Besides, I had to watch the All Blacks and Piri Weepu being awesome.

Right, I finally caught up with my blog. It’s Monday. I’m still at my hosts who are at work now and I just have to shut the door behind me. It’s already afternoon. My bags are packed and I’ve decided to stay two more nights in Wellington. The YHA was too expensive for me now ($37.50 per night!), so I booked at the Cambridge Hotel using my new BBH card ($22 per night).

You’ve got a lot to listen to before my next post, so enjoy them all!

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.

WIUO EP Release Party

THURSDAY, 6th October

I hope you already know who Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra are. I had bought a ticket on their 4th EP Release Party on 7th October while I was still in Australia, but I managed to swap it on the 6th, when I found out that they added another show. Now I could go and see The Phoenix Foundation playing in the Fanzone on Friday, but with the cost of not seeing Barnaby Weir and Anika Moa playing at the Garden Club on Thursday. Their other shows later this month are already on the South Island and I’m not going there yet. Maybe I needed some laughter after so many grey days and I’m afraid Barnaby and Anika would get me deeper into the dark mood. And so, the more I listen to my recording, the more I love that evening and realize how great time I had then.

Supporting act: Adam Page. He was amazing. He’s an Australian who decided to live in Wellington, which is quite unusual. It was just him, a couple instruments and a mixer.

But he said his favourite instrument was his beard.

Beard song and improvised Rebecca Hoogan (should be Coogan, but he missheard the surname)

Then after the break, WIUO came on stage and with banters between the songs (Age and Gemma were the leaders there), they played some older songs first and then after the break they played their new EP from the beginning to the end plus two enchores. I’m not going to give you the setlist, because I want you to enjoy it while listening as if you were there.

Age trashing the stool

And then looked very apologizing

with John McDougall, the author of “Raylene”

And after the gig, I collected all of their signatures except from Dan’s. He didn’t come out later. Maybe he didn’t feel well. If you listen to the recording, you’ll know why.

They’re the most lovely people I’ve ever met.


FRIDAY, 9th Sept.

I took my first morning in Wellington very slowly. I checked out before 10 a.m. but I decided to stay in the hostel a little longer, because the rain was too strong and I suspected it might change in an hour or two. I love being surrounded by things which were unusual in Poland and they are normal in New Zealand, like the All Blacks merchandise everywhere, hearing The Black Seeds, Lawrence Arabia and The Phoenix Foundation at hostels or spotting Boy DVD in shops.

At about 12 p.m. it stopped raining. I left my bag in a locker at the hostel ($4 for 12 hours) and went to explore the city. Leaving the YHA, on the left there was New World, a shopping centre. I passed the shop and followed the signs to Te Papa. The museum wasn’t very far away and I was surprised again to see Circa Theatre next to Te Papa. Jemaine Clement’s wife, Miranda Manasiadis used to perform there. Her last play was The Great Gatsby. It was still grey and cloudy, so the photos underneath were taken later that day.

I didn’t go straight to the museum. I decided to wonder around and discover more. I went along the waterfront and found myself in Rugby Village FANZONE. The scene was still empty, but I could see food stalls and tents being put up and everyone getting ready for the afternoon and evening festivities. I crossed the Village, crossed over Jervois Quay and saw Civic Square.

I visited iSite centre and took some brochures. I thought it was about time to go to Te Papa, but on the way back I derailed to New Zealand On Screen installation.

Inside, there was an interactive screen in one room where you could watch whatever you can find on the website. In another room they had a flat screen and you could watch 25 short films. I always wanted to see The Six Dollar Fifty Man (2009, dir. Mark Albiston and Louis Sutherland; the winner at Cannes in 2010), but I couldn’t do it online, because of the area restrictions. The film was really lovely. Then I watched Day Trip (2010, dir. Zoe McIntosh), hilarious Careful With That Axe (2007, dir. Jason Stutter) and Signing Off (1996, dir. Duncan Sarkies). Watching those films I was happy to be inside, because there was heavy rain outside. When I saw the weather got better, on the way out I stole a scene

…took some pictures and went to the Museum. On level 1, there was an interactive installation where you could learn Ka Mate haka moves, so I tried that one. I went into a small room together with two other ladies (maximum six people were allowed per show). It was a very short presentation. You had to follow your on screen teacher and then you were recorded and you could see yourself on a small screen after you left the room. We had a lot of laugh seeing our clumsy dance moves.

I managed to see Te Papa up to level 3 (there are six) when I got a text from H., my friend from Auckland. She came to Wellington for a weekend to see WOW shows. We met up at the Museum and after grabbing something to eat on Cuba Str and having a photo session by the Fountain, we went back to Rugby Village FANZONE to see Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra live. They were amazing, even though the wind wasn’t helping them. I managed to record a couple tunes, so here is Nigel Collins a.k.a. New Zealand Symphony Orchestra singing Cream cover, Sunshine of Your Love.

They were very polite towards other countries taking part in the World Cup. Andy even sang the South African anthem, but when they finished, he showed which team he truly supports.

H. had leave me to meet with her friends and I stayed in the Village to watch other performances and official ceremony of the opening of the Rugby World Cup. As I was watching Samoan and later Maori dancers, I noticed Nigel standing next to me and talking with his friend. That was so random.
I didn’t watch the opening, though. I got a call from my host, who was G.’s (the one from Kippa-Ring) friends’ friend and he said he’d pick me up and we’d go together to the airport to pick up G. who flew from Brisbane via Auckland.

It was great to see G. again, after just over a week. It seemed as if I hadn’t seen him for ages. We arrived in Johnsonville, up in the hills north-west from Wellington, early enough to see the first match of RWC, New Zealand v Tonga. The All Blacks won, of course, but the result wasn’t very impressive.