Phoenix Foundation and the NZSO Live @ The Auckland Town Hall

Phoenix Foundation and the NZSO Live @ The Auckland Town Hall

The stage set, The NZSO magnificently splayed across the stage of the Auckland Town Hall, each department sectioned off dedicated to their instrumental finery, eager anticipation, awaiting the players to the stage. In this case, Kiwi band, The Phoenix Foundation.

WORDS AND PHOTOS BY WAL REID

Music NationTo celebrate their 20th year The Phoenix Foundation have joined forces with the NZSO for a series of unique concerts, a feat The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra has maintained, a successful marriage playing with one of the ‘unsung’ heroes of New Zealand’s musical oligarchy.

Led by chief ‘Phoenix’ Samuel Flynn Scott, his imposing tall figure looming over the cluttered stage, decked out in retro suit and hat, he recounted to the audience his ‘dream about dressing up like Elton John” and found himself in an interesting quandary with a telescopic duster in hand on their first song Hitchcock.

Music NationA smattering of hits ensued, including older tunes like Cars of Eden and the ambling pop catchiness of Black Mould, giving way to newer tracks Transit of Venus or the deliciously titled Miserable Meal all sounding majestic given the NZSO treatment. Having the orchestra backing gave their music a soundtrack, as if the songs were part of the incidental music of a film, each song gave an atmospheric position on stage, needless to say, the collab between the two was a gamble that handsomely paid off.

The Phoenix Foundation is one of the most iconic New Zealand bands of the 21st century – period. Formed in Wellington in the late-90s, they have been lauded here and overseas and feted by rock royalty, from Neil Finn and Jarvis Cocker to Iggy Pop.

Yet here they were, the usual japes shared from the stage between Scott and fellow band cohort Luke Buda, as they kept contact with the crowd at a minimum preferring to let the music do the talking. “You all look great, You’ve done your part” quipped Buda as the swell of the orchestra, signalled the beginning of the next track.

Music Nation

The Kiwi band has also contributed to several movie soundtracks, including film-maker Taika Waititi’s celebrated box office smash Hunt for the Wilderpeople. Drawing from their much vast musical catalogue, The Phoenix Foundation and Orchestra performed a unique arrangement of audience favourites and deep album cuts. The rich tapestry of Classical music fused with swirling melancholic Phoenix songs Buffalo or St Kevin were delivered with gusto having a profound effect on those in attendance.

Music Nation

To say tonight was an experiment denotes a possible element of failure at any given hurdle. However, there was little doubt that it would be anything but a success. An experiment maybe, but there is no qualm Orchestra Conductor Hamish McKeich’s vision was not only a personal quest of sorts but also a brilliant marketing coup de grâce, opening up a whole new audience to popular music culture, and vice-versa.

If you get a chance to see this dynamic musical event in Christchurch or Dunedin at the end of this month, grab the bull (or Buffalo) with both hands, and let go for the ride that well, has all the elements for a fun night out – Classical Music plus The Phoenix Foundation – win, win.

Even though my favourite track (and music video) 40 Years was omitted from the set list, I was still as happy as a pig in muck. Hopefully, it won’t be another 20 years before it’s added to the encore set.

IK Multimedia's iRig Pro I/O

Related posts

Norah Jones – Live @ The Aotea Centre, Auckland 2019

Norah Jones - Live @ The Aotea Centre, Auckland 2019

Tuesday night I headed out to the new and improved Aotea Centre to see Norah Jones' first show in our fair country. The American singer/songwriter has half a dozen albums spanning her 14-year career, she's a 9 time Grammy Award winner and all I can say is it was well worth the wait. WORDS BY...

Ocean Alley – Live @ The Hunter Lounge – Wellington

Ocean Alley - Live @ The Hunter Lounge - Wellington

Ocean Alley return and what a return they make! With an all up six stops on their New Zealand tour, this is the third gig after two sold-out Auckland Powerhouse gigs and the first of two full-capacity Wellington shows before heading to the South Island. WORDS BY VICTORIA FRASER - PHOTOS...

Anne-Marie – Live @ Spark Arena, Auckland 2019

Anne-Marie - Live @ Spark Arena, Auckland 2019

Breakout artist Anne-Marie performed her first New Zealand headline show last night at Spark Arena. Marketed as a show for all ages it most certainly was and the crowd was comprised of groups of friends, couples on a 'date night' as well as kids accompanied by a parent and out on a school night...