Don McGlashan & The Others, Hastings NZ, 2022

Don McGlashan & The Others

26th October 2022
ToiToi, Hastings, New Zealand.

Review by Rob Harbers. Photography by Andrew Caldwell.

As the eighth Hawkes Bay Arts Festival gets within sight of the closing straight, NZ music royalty, in the form of Don McGlashan has made an appearance. With his current cohort of confederates, The Others, in tow, he spun his warmly human tales to an audience covering a range of ages, while skewed towards an older demographic, as would be consistent with an artist who’s been plying his trade for over 40 years now!

This long career shows no sign of abating, as he still finds the inspiration to record new sounds, this gig being one of the run he’s currently engaged in in support of most recent album “Bright November Morning” (only about a week early!). Much of the material presented tonight was from that source, but there was also representation from as far back as Blam Blam Blam (more on that later).

The show started on a relatively low-key note, with an ode to the joys of parenthood in new song “Sunscreen”, and slowly building in intensity and energy, giving the band, particularly guitarist Shayne Carter(!) the opportunity to shine. But then in a marked shift in tempo, most of the band left the stage, leaving Don and multi-instrumentalist Anita Clarke to perform the “quiet songs”. Beginning with a bilingual rendition of “Bathe In The River” the song that Don famously wrote for Hollie Smith, proceeding through “Nothing On The Windows” with its sad tale of mental and physical decline, building towards an emotional “Anchor Me” which marked the return of the full band.

The return to full accompaniment saw new song “Shackleton” come in to the light, introduced as one that Don had started writing some years earlier, but had remained unfinished until getting together with the current ensemble, and the realisation that they had the ability to fully bring to life its atmospheric quality. The Muttonbirds’ “White Valiant” briefly interrupted the stream of new material, before a few songs later came the promised Blam Blam Blam – not, as I secretly hoped for, “No Depression”, but instead its more popular sister “Don’t Fight It Marsha, It’s Bigger than Both of Us” – a worthy substitute! With the nostalgia button firmly set to “On”, came a Muttonbirds double, being “Dominion Road” and an uptempo “The Heater”.

While listening to the body of work presented, it became clear to me in a way I’d never really considered before, the deep strain of humanity with which many of these songs are imbued. Whether singing of unsuccessful explorers, or of those less successful at life in general, there is an obvious empathy and fellowship about much of the lyrical content, which goes some way to understanding its appeal. The subjects are never looked down on, nor condescended to – they have their tales told sympathetically. All of which makes for an intensely enjoyable experience!

With “The Heater” having comprised the end of the main set, the inevitable, and enthusiastically demanded encore consisted of “When the Trumpets Sound” from 2015’s “Lucky Stars”, and “Pulled Along By Love”, a return to the Muttonbirds era, before finally leaving the stage for good, leaving another hugely entertained Hawkes Bay Arts Festival audience in its wake. Another four days and nights of the festival still to come, and while there may be the potential for fatigue to start to show at this stage, it’s shows like this that keep the enthusiasm alive, and the audiences wanting more!

Were you there at ToiToi for this great Hawkes Bay Arts Festival show? Or have you seen Don McGlashan & The Others perform live somewhere else before? Tell us about it in the comments below!

Setlist:
  1. Sunscreen
  2. Lights Come On
  3. Go Back In
  4. All the Goodbyes In The World
  5. A Thing Well Made
  6. Song For Sue
  7. Korukitia/Bathe In The River
  8. Nothing On The Windows
  9. Anchor Me
  10. Shackleton
  11. White Valiant
  12. John Bryce
  13. Start Again
  14. Don’t Fight It Marsha It’s Bigger than Both of Us
  15. Dominion Road
  16. The Heater
  17. When The Trumpets Sound [encore]
  18. Pulled Along By Love [encore]

Note: Ambient Light was provided passes to review and photograph this concert. As always, this has not influenced the review in any way and the opinions expressed are those of Ambient Light’s only. This post contains an affiliate link. If you purchase a product using an affiliate link, Ambient Light will automatically receive a small commission at no cost to you.

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