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Sunday, April 05, 2009

Over The Hills and Far Away

There aren't many things that could make me skip a night of training with WIT on Tuesdays, but the chance to see Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie perform as "Flight of the Conchords" sure is one of them.

A friend I work with, Andrew, lives in Greytown, which is over the Rimutaka Hills and in the Wairarapa Valley. Jemaine grew up in the Wairarapa, in a town called Masterton which is just a little further north of Greytown. This bit of backstory is important as the Conchords had been taking a few weeks off here in New Zealand before embarking on their two-month tour of North America.

During their visit, it came to light that Jemaine's childhood school in Masterton, one Makoura College, was having some dire funding difficulties. Rumours persisted that it might even be forced to close unless they had a quick infusion of cash, and upon hearing this the Conchords offered up their services free for a charity concert. Of course, Makoura College took them up on their generous offer, and as a result a lucky few of us got to see them live.

Lucky in that, as far as I know, Bret and Jemaine hadn't scheduled to otherwise perform while they were here in New Zealand for these few weeks. And further fortunate in that tickets for this gig would first go on sale to residents of the Wairarapa Valley - which is where Andrew lives. My stalwart friend stood in line for a couple of hours. He noticed with increasing alarm that up to 10 tickets could be bought by one person. The closer he got to the head of the line, the smaller and smaller the roll of tickets for sale became. He worried they'd sell out just as he got to the front, as some people had been camping out from the night before, waiting for the tickets to go on sale.

But of course he came through, and in only a short while, all of the available tickets had been sold in Masterton, never giving anyone a chance outside the Wairarapa to buy a ticket. There was even an American from Florida who was desperate to purchase a ticket to see this show! Either he can't make the dates they are playing in Florida or he's almost as obsessed with the Conchords as Mel is.

The show was really great, it was everything I could have hoped it would be. Jemaine and Bret were just as they seem on television: witty, low-key and quite talented. A cellist friend of theirs named Nigel joined them on the stage for most of their songs, and the folk comedy duo (trio?) had a great rapport with the audience throughout the night.

Bret was particularly appreciative of a guy down towards the front who had impeccable timing with the things he shouted out. At one point, Bret was thinking aloud about how he wasn't sure if they could pull off their next tune, as they had yet to play it live. This guy then shouted out the stock Rob Schneider quote, "You can do it!" and got a big laugh. He also won over Bret, who for the second time complimented him on his timing (earlier he had shouted out a song request at just the right moment), and Bret said he wished he could take the guy on tour with them to keep shouting out that phrase.

While I wasn't the one who splashed out $6,000 in the charity auction for the guitar that had been autographed by the boys, I did my part for the school benefit by buying a T-shirt (in the picture below and, yes, I know I need to iron it). It was a real treat to be able to see these guys live and I'm not sure when I may have the chance to do so again. I liked how I also got to see them playing right in their backyard. They joked during the "Humans Are Dead" song that, in the distant future (the year 2000, as they wrote this song a long time ago, haha), Masterton had now become known as MasterTRON.

Yeah, okay, well you had to be there I guess!

This weekend I also bade farewell to my friend Emily, who leaves this Friday for her new life in Queenstown. She managed to work a transfer within her own company (she is an engineer) to arguably one of the loveliest spots to be in New Zealand. Given that there are heaps of nice places in this country, that is saying a lot.

Her party had a jungle theme and I've included a picture of me in my "Dr. Livingstone" get-up below. Emily is on the far left, and between us are her friends Millie and Brett. I should point out he came as Slash from Guns 'N Roses as their song, "Welcome To The Jungle" qualifies his costume as in-theme! That and he managed to find a cool inflatable guitar on TradeMe for $3.50.

Hmm, an inflatable guitar. It gives new meaning to the phrase 'air guitar'!

Ugh, even I have to admit that one was bad. This is why I won't be doing the stand-up comedy like so many of my friends are now!

And on that off-key note, I am outta here. Best of luck on the North American tour, Jemaine and Bret, and godspeed to you in Queenstown, Emily!


Blogger Sandjoy said...

How great it was you got to see them! What a thrill. Love the T-shirt. Looks like the closest they'll get to us is D.C.

Love your costume, I presume.

Much love xo

2:39 PM  

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