Dave Dobbyn

HBAF'19 / 
Spiegeltent / 
21 October / 
By Rob Harbers

In the visually apt setting of the Victoria Spiegeltent, with its multiple mirrored surfaces, Dave Dobbyn took a capacity crowd on a reflective journey through the soundtrack of their lives. Probably 80 percent of the population above a certain age would admit to having sung along with at least one DD song at some point, and at least half of the remaining 20 percent would be lying! Not many would have a tale to compare with my “Dave Dobbyn bought me a drink in 1985”, but that’s a story for another day…

Anyway, down to business. Opening number Belltower set the tone for the first set, which was largely a dive in to the melancholic, or as the man himself eloquently described it, the “fuckin’ sad, because you have to go to the sad to bring out the gold”. A rich seam of gold was then unearthed, wandering through a series of deep, and not-so deep, cuts from his long career, interspersed with many tales and song explanations. 

A particular highlight was the rendition of You Oughta be in Love where keyboard player Mark Vanilau took vocal duties. From there the one-two punch of Guilty Thru Neglect from the DD Smash era (whatever happened to Th’ Rooda?) and Beside You, which closed out the set. This first set was unfortunately, marred for some by a less-than-perfect sound mix, with some of the vocal elements drowned by the instruments.

The return to the stage saw an increase in volume and pace, as the band loosened up and the guitar solos became more frequent. Still a relatively slow-burning set by comparison with some of the repertoire, which could’ve really lit the touch paper. Crowd favourites like Slice Of Heaven got them dancing in the aisles. Uptempo versions of songs like Just Add Water and Pour The Wine showed the strength of the ensemble playing, although it would’ve been good to see things go wild. (That could be just me, the crowd were lapping it up).

A great career-spanning concert from one of the major figures in New Zealand music, the depth of whose repertoire can perhaps best be recognised by considering how many well-known songs were left out. Rather than just “playing the hits”, DD was brave enough to head down some of the paths less taken. There was something for everyone who attended, as evidenced in the standing ovation given at show’s end. Another Arts Festival triumph!

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