Gin Wigmore/ The Mutton Birds/Avalanche City – Villa Maria Estate March 4, 2012

Due to an impending “weather bomb”, this show was rescheduled from the evening before. As it turned out, Sunday night was just about perfect for an evening at the winery, so all credit to the Met Service and the promoters.

I missed Annah Mac, but arrived just in time to catch Avalanche City attempting to drown out the cicadas at Villa Maria. From the back, it sounded like the cicadas were winning. But Dave Baxter and his band ended up wrestling the attention away from the little buggers when they played Love Love Love. A stream of children immediately poured out from the hill and danced along to the frothy, summertime tune.

The mighty Mutton Birds came on shortly after 7pm and began their set with the stately Envy Of Angels. After that it was sing-along time with Dominion Road. Then came In My Room, the first of six tunes from the band’s 1993 album, Salty.

The 10-song set focussed on the reunited band’s first two albums, with just the title song from 1996’s Envy Of Angels and nothing else past that. Bass player Alan Gregg got his moment in the spotlight when he sang Wellington, also from Salty.

Don McGlashan led the band with his voice, guitar playing and, occasionally, his horn (a euphonium, I believe). He was in fine voice and really made a point of selling songs like Queen’s English and A Thing Well Made.

As he proved the previous Wednesday at the Kings Arms, guitarist David Long seems to be the perfect guitarist for McGlashan’s songs. He lays back when required, then lashes out with beautifully formed solos when inspired. Drummer Ross Burge and bass player Gregg provided a solid, sympathetic groove.

My only complaint about the Mutton Birds’ set is the length. I can think of at least another 10 songs I would have liked to have heard. These guys are Kiwi icons. How about a show of their own at The Civic?

Gin Wigmore and her 6-piece band took the stage to the strains of Link Wray’s Rumble. She whipped into a 16-song set that included crowd pleasers like Hey Ho, Man Like That, Under My Skin and Black Sheep.

Gin has grown into a solid, confident performer who easily kept her fans happy and dancing throughout the nearly-90 minute set. Her secret weapon is guitarist Brett Adams (of The Bads and Tim Finn). He’s an amazing musician who can play just about any style. He played some tasty slide, but really shone when laying down some rockabilly riffs during One Last Look. He even traded vocals with Gin on Sweet Hell.

Gin’s set stuck to tunes from her two albums and one EP, except for a cover of House Of The Rising Sun. The Auckland native was happy to be playing to a home town crowd and the audience (a real family affair) left the winery with smiles all around.

Marty Duda

Click here to listen to The Mutton Birds perform Dominion Road at Villa Maria Estate: 

Mutton Birds set list:

  1. Envy Of Angels
  2. Dominion Road
  3. In My Room
  4. A Thing Well Made
  5. Too Close To The Sun
  6. Wellington
  7. Queen’s English
  8. The Heater
  9. Nature
  10. Anchor Me

Gin Wigmore set list:

  1. Hey Ho
  2. Devil In Me
  3. Poison
  4. Too Late For Lovers
  5. If Only
  6. These Roses
  7. Somewhere Over The Rainbow/I Do
  8. Man Like That
  9. One Last Look
  10. Kill Of The Night
  11. Under My Skin
  12. Black Sheep
  13. Singin’ My Soul
  14. House Of The Rising Sun
  15. Sweet Hell
  16. Oh My

Check out these stunning images taken by 13th Floor photographer Michael Flynn: