Stretch, Napier New Zealand, 2022

Stretch

23rd September 2022
Urban Winery, Napier, New Zealand.

Review by Rob Harbers, photography by Andrew Caldwell.

Marking a return to the stage in full band format, Stretch and his talented cohort brought the fizz to the Urban Winery, in the first of two exclusive gigs in hometown Hawkes Bay – perhaps the prelude to more, we can but hope!

The last year or two has been a time of hiatus in the camp, but judging by the fire and passion in evidence from this performance, that time has been anything but wasted. These are songs that demand exposure, brought to life by a combo in complete harmony with each other, for our listening pleasure!

The outing commenced with the duo of Stretch and Paula (or trio, if the redoubtable Cyril is to be acknowledged!) and the appropriately titled “Last Call For the Road”, and then proceeded to take us on a journey through the highways and byways of the two albums produced to date. In an unintended twist of ironic optimism, this song’s repeated motif of “keep your voice down” came to assume a certain significance as the night continued – more anon…

In a small-scale version of Talking Heads’ “Stop Making Sense” routine, the band was augmented progressively, with drummer Arahi Whaanga taking the stool from “Here Come the Starlings” onwards, and guitarist Cam Burns sliding in at “House Full of Ghosts”. Each bringing their own contribution, notably Cam summoning the spirit of the blues for the intro of “Less Rock, More Roll”, and Arahi’s taking centre stage to sing his own “Purpose of This Man”, swapping positions with Stretch.

As noted earlier, there was an element of the audience that, somewhat disrespectfully in my opinion, clearly felt that their own conversations were of more import than what the rest of us were there for, but rather than being cowed by such a passive-aggressive display, instead the band took energy from it and fed it back, the songs taking on increasing amounts of fire, exemplified fittingly by the one cover song, “I’m On Fire” with a delivery pitched somewhere between that of the original and the subsequent Head Like A Hole version. This got a number of those who had ears to hear on to the floor, and inspired the choice of continuing to play on rather than take a break at this point – feeding in to a passionately delivered (and crowd-inspired?) “I Know You’ve Been Bad”, the band playing their hearts out to an intense crescendo. The emotion (but never the passion!) then proceeded in a different direction, culminating in “Lonely Star” with its dedication to those lost along the way, providing its own intensity in a simple and subtle way – even if such subtlety was lost on a section of the crowd!

All too soon, though, the final number was played, completed perfectly by a (we’re told unintentionally) glass-dropping by an audience member right after the final note. So perfectly timed was it that it deserves a regular appearance, Hinauri and venues permitting!

Having left it all on stage, the band then retired, only to in the fateful words of Bono “dream it all up again” for next week at Havelock North’s Peak House, and who knows where after that? Songs that need to be heard, played by a band who’s home is the stage – get amongst it!

Were you there at the Urban Winery for this great gig? Or have you seen Stretch perform live somewhere else before? Tell us about it in the comments below!

Setlist:
  1. Last Call For The Road
  2. Nothing Can Hurt You
  3. Here Come The Starlings
  4. House Full Of Ghosts
  5. Shoal Bay Song
  6. Hold Fast Hold True
  7. Less Rock More Roll
  8. Purpose Of This Man [Arahi track]
  9. I’m On Fire [Bruce Springsteen cover]
  10. I Know You’ve Been Bad
  11. Come Back To My Arms
  12. Can & Cannot Do
  13. Not Saying Goodbye
  14. Lonely Star
  15. 6 Tears
  16. Walk On Water

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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