Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 35 No 5. March 29, 1972
One goes to a rock concert, of course, primarily to listen to the music, which means not only that the musicianship must be of a high standard and the equipment in good working order, but also that the material played must be varied, creative (original, if possible), and rhythmically and melodically interesting. A band can get away with pretty well anything 'at a dance, so long as the beat is kept going, but nowadays when the concert format seems to be the most popular with the entrepreneurs, the groups must realise that they are performing to a reasonably discerning audience of people who have stacks of L.P.s at home from Hendrix to Highway, that they regularly listen to. The problem with the bands playing at the recent series of Orientation rock concerts was that each failed to meet one or more of these basic demands. The group most exempt from these complaints is probably Tamburlaine, who had no equipment hassles, or none that were their responsibility, and whose music complies with the above criteria, but they have also, as they know, played better than they did at this concert. They were, however, certainly the best of the accoustically-biased groups to play over the series, with the highlight of their performance for me being Mark Hansen's rendering of 'Ruby Ruby'.
One does expect, however, more excitement to be generated by an electric group but it was was in this field that the concerts were, on the whole, disappointing. The Wellington band Taylor, who shared the bill with Tamburlaine, had attracted some attention as a result of the publicity for this concert and the NZUAC campus tour. The group however failed to come up to expectations. They are all technically competent, experienced musicians and form a very tight group, but their material Was just not varied nor interesting enough.
Ticket, the other big attraction of the concert series, were more exciting and extracted some response from a portion of the audience who began dancing. Their equipment was of the highest quality, their approach professional and each individual's technical understanding of his instrument the best, but they seemed to be very orientated towards the Hendrix style (or as one listener put it, towards the Underdogs Hendrix style) without fully realising that Hendrix's music, is on the whole highly melodically structured. Too often Eddie Hansen's breaks seemed to be but a concatenation of notes, some clever timing but little else.
On to the more University-based groups. Chum played first at the second concert organfeted by Gil Peterson, (the others were both promoted by NZUAC). They were a bit out of practice and were disappointed with their performance, but will be a very good group when they have gained more confidence.
Harper and Brown were up to their usual good standard; they are technically good musicians on several instruments, and they improvise well but their music is not varied enough, pretty well all of it being in the same flamenco-rock style. To do them justice however, it is very much their own sound.
Triangle were on next (also supporting Ticket at the third concert) and are fortunate in having one of the best vocalists in the country, if not the best, in Dennis O'Brien, who has a very good range, a rich tone and marvellous phrasing. He's pretty good on piano too, though he does many fast runs down the keyboard with his thumb, a la Jerry Lee Lewis, in places where it is not appropriate. The rest of the band, apart from, the lead guitarist, are merely competent, but they have improved out of recognition after their gig on board ship. Their material, however, is perhaps too commercially orientated at times. I for one no longer exactly feel like dancing around in a fairy-ring to the accompaniment of 'The Teddy Bears Picnic', (this at the M.S.S.A. concert). Still some did and their rock n' roll numbers especially were well received.
Back at the second concert again, and by late in the evening the P.A. had taken a bashing, and it crapped out during Mammal's set, which was unfortunate to say the least because there was a lot of very impressive three and four-part singing going on in there that we could only just hear much of the time. Those who went to the M.S.S.A. run concert three weeks later (not many did thinking it was for Malaysian students only) got a better deal. At that concert, this group, a recent amalgam of members from the old Mammal, Gutbucket and Rick and the Rockets, showed that they are very soon going to be one of the best groups around, with original material, a lot of very good harmony singing (six parts on one song) and a variety of instruments including an electric mandolin, 'cello, recorders and soon, hopefully, a Moog. Among their best numbers over the two concerts were Heard it on the Grapevine, Southern Man, Tony Backhouse's Whisper and some excellent jams.
The group was also subject to sudden lapses of taste, for instance in launching into Hava Nagila in the middle of another number, and in including in their rendition of that hackneyed favourite, Gershwin's Summertime (which we were forced to listen to ad nauseam last Arts Festival) the line 'One morning you gonna wake up....' (pause for effect) 'tripping 'tripping!' Well it may have appealed to two very obvious young trippers in the front row but all it really did, along with other drug references 'We are going to have a Smoke now' was to serve as self-concious promotion. 'We are turned-on, we know where its at.'
Ticket may look down somewhat on a small, student audience, when they are off to America and bigger things (lead guitarist Eddie Hansen is described by his manager as one of the top-ten guitarists in the world [?]) but this sort of rather patronising arrogance may well lessen the respect of audiences everywhere (cf Paul McCartney)
Despite the complaints above, all is a lot better on campus than it has ever been before. Its just not often as good as what we can listen to on our stereos. Still, I won't stop going to concerts. The next one is on April 1 starring Olibet, Electric Circus, Triangle, Mammal and Tamburlaine.