Arts Festival Review: Dave Dobbyn and Friends
Arts Festival Review: Dave Dobbyn and FriendsReview by Alison Little
Pacific Blue Festival Club
February 27, 2008
Every New Zealander over a certain age has at some time owned some music by Dave Dobbyn. It might have been a DD Smash record, scratched and slightly warped, ultimately heated and reshaped into a striated black vinyl bowl to hold the crinkle cut chips to go with the onion soup flavoured dip. It could have been a dusty cassette of 'Loyal', played at full volume on trips to the beach, before it was lost to the dusty depths of the Cortina glove-box. The kids probably had a copy of the Footrot Flats movie soundtrack.
Recordings of his music are played at funerals, and bad cover versions at weddings; in the corny PR phrase; he’s the sound-track of our lives. Owning at least a few iconic songs on a Collected Greatest Ever Summer Hits type CD, or a ‘best of’ compilation is probably compulsary, in order to prove you're a properly patriotic Kiwi.
While Dobbyn still releases regular CDs of new-ish music, his live performances are now mostly aimed at the nostalgia market. Certainly this was the case with his Dave Dobbyn and Friends concert at the Pacific Blue Festival Club.
For the Festival show Dobbyn played a mix of old and new songs, carefully spaced and paced. The new songs were pleasant enough, although perhaps not particularly memorable. While the audience of well dressed couples in their forty-mumbles and fifty-mumbles gave them polite applause, new songs and obscure old songs were not what they had come to hear.
They wanted the classics, the Dobbyn songs everyone knows, to hum and sway to.
Luckily, Dave Dobbyn is happy to pander to audience whim, and cranked out energetic versions of songs he has sung over and over and over again, just as if he hadn’t.
As soon as the opening chords of any ‘hit’ Dobbyn song began there were happy whoops from the crowd, and feet reflexively began to tap on the wooden floor. Loudest whoops were elicited by 'You Oughta Be in Love', 'Loyal', 'Whaling' and as an encore, 'Slice of Heaven'.
Despite making a few ‘old man’ jokes during his show, Dave Dobbyn has not yet slowed down for a quiet middle age. His website lists a hectic schedule of live performances, and he is as busy and respectable these days as any musician could hope to be. In recent years he has performed with the Auckland Philharmonia, signed up to perform in Paris during the 2007 Rugby World Cup, and most recently, shared the stage with pop-classical singer Hayley Westenra in a series of Vineyard performances.
He sings and plays guitar and piano with the smooth competence of someone who’s been doing this stuff for years. Dobbyn started the show on stage alone for the first few songs, before being joined by his friends. These friends all seemed fine musicians, but Dobbyn was clearly always the heart and centre of this one and a half-hour long show. His distinctive vocal style as strong as ever – and he can still hold the long notes a long long time.
Listening to Dave Dobbyn, with a beer or glass of good wine in hand, in the company of ones own old friends, is still a pleasant way to pass a summer evening.