It was a bit like being a kid in a candy store when Positively Wellington Venues said that they could provide tickets for any one event at one of their venues for the New Zealand International Arts Festival. That gave me a choice of any event the Town Hall, MFC, St James or the Opera House.
I settled on the Sharon Shannon Big Band, as I love Irish music, and you expect someone who has performed for two US Presidents to be pretty good.
She wasn’t just pretty good. She was world class. A superb performance and a really good night out.
The night started at Hede, on Cuba Street. My favourite Japanese restaurant. DC Girl and I had the Teriyaki Chicken. I mentioned when I got there that my arm was aching (in fact had been in considerable pain since around 2 pm). It turned out to be a consequence of some bicep curls at the gym the day before, which tore the muscle a bit. But DC Girl failed to understand the difference between a sore arm and a numb arm, and using her brilliant medical skills concluded I might have had a stroke, and started googling the symptoms of a stroke, and what to do. Thee couple at the next table started to look worried.
Afterwards we crossed over to the Town Hall, and I won the bet that we could get to out seats without running into someone who knows me (as happened twice on the weekend’s walk from the wind turbine to Hawkins Hill).
Now the performance. Sharon Shannon herself plays the accordion, and her dexterity and skill on it is just incredible. But the rest of the band are equally skilled. With such a variety of instruments, it would be easy to have the odd discordant note, but they combined together sublimely to entertain and engage.
They did probably around 20 songs all up, and a couple reminded me of that great scene in the Titanic movie where Kate Winslett/Rose goes down to the room where the Irish are playing their music, and it is so infectious.
A couple of the band members were actually Kiwis, which was well greeted by the audience. There were a fair few or Irish descent in the audience and they really got into it, actually standing up and clapping and dancing along to a couple of the later numbers.
A sustained ovation at the end saw the band back on stage to do a further four songs, and these were arguably their best. I wasn’t surprised to read that her 1991 album remains the best selling album of traditional Irish music ever released.
We are very spoilt in Wellington having such great events, both domestic and international. The Festival is a Wellington icon, which brings such great acts here. I see on her website that she is playing at New Plymouth on Fri 16 and Sun 18, and in Auckland inbetween on Sat 17. If there are tickets left, I highly recommend you go along – she is a superb performer.Tags: Reviews, Sharon Shannon