Skip to main content


If all nights out were like this one, I'd have more of them...

By Music and Wellington

Blam Blam Blam at Mighty Mighty 6 Dec 200721 years ago I walked in off the street to the offices of Radio Active looking for a way I could get on the radio. The address in the phone book said Kelburn Parade so I had walked the length of said boulevard, way past the University and all the way to Hadfield Terrace and back, before trying my luck at the Student Union Building. I’d arrived in Wellington less than a month earlier, determined to make some headway with a career in radio and one of the reasons I had agreed so readily to leave the UK was Radio Active itself.

When I got inside, the delightful Charles Mabbett showed me around and told me how to sign up for on-air shifts despite the fact I wasn’t even a student yet. When I got on air I showed off a bit, playing the records I had brought with me from London (the fruits of many hours late-night listening to Peel and David Jensen), thinking I would show these colonials what was really happening.

It didn’t take very long before the lessons were being taught in the other direction. We played plenty of requests in those days and I found myself getting phone calls asking for bands and songs I had never heard of: The Birthday Party and Hunters & Collectors for example; and people called The Dance Exponents, Netherworld Dancing Toys, The Chills and (of course) Blam, Blam, Blam.

I think it was somewhere between hearing “Marsha” and “There Is No Depression In New Zealand” (and DD Smash’s “Magic What She Do” for that matter) that I decided that I wanted to be a New Zealander. I’d told my parents that I would give Wellington a year and if it wasn’t working for me I’d go back to England and study there. But I stumbled on Flying Nun, Dave Dobbyn and The Blams and it was all over red-rover — no going back.

The Blams had already been defunct for several years by the time I arrived: “Marsha” and “No Depression” were in the oldies bin along with “Pink Frost” and “Victoria”. I was lucky enough to see other Don McGlashan ensembles including the wonderful Front Lawn in 1989 and The Mutton Birds, of course, but I never expected to ever see Blam, Blam, Blam. Until last night.

Thanks to my colleagues at Wellingtonista I had a ringside seat at The Blams Public Address gig at Mighty Mighty last night (following Russell Brown’s “It Doesn’t Give My Opponents Much Time, Either” quiz and the 2nd Annual Wellingtonista Awards). Jeez, they were good: great songs, great sound, great company. If someone had told me that The Undertones were reforming with Feargal Sharkey and they were going to play in my front room I couldn’t have been happier.

Photo taken from my camera phone but there are better pics here. In fact, flashes were going off left, right and centre so there’ll be plenty of other photographs soon enough, I’m sure.

By the way, it’s Radio Active’s 30th birthday this month. Maybe I’ll be able to dig out some gems from my archive in time for the 35th.

Adventures in Film Criticism

By Cinema and Wellington

I was musing at the top of the Downstage stairs yesterday evening that a Wellington Film Critics Circle (for no reason other than to say we have one) might be an idea — we could hand out awards at the end of the year and say they point to Oscars like the New York critics do (or we could all get together once a year for a piss-up).

Anyway, later on I read this link below and went off the idea pretty much straight away.

My favourite line: “If the various elements had been more fully orchestrated, the grating psychological reasoning would have been even more redundant.”


Black Magic reviews Eagle vs. Shark

By Cinema, NZ and Wellington

Flying in the face of the embargo, Black Magic reviews Eagle vs. Shark:

If you’re into comedies this is definitely a must-see.

Huh? Who isn’t “into comedies”? Have you ever met anyone who said, “I’m not really into comedies, I don’t really like laughing.”

It doesn’t get you very far on the Internet dating sites, does it? “Good sense of humour required, but not in a cinematic way, I prefer dramas: laughter in a picture theatre doesn’t do that much for me, sorry.”

My review of Eagle vs. Shark will appear here on Wednesday 15 August, the same day it will appear in the Capital Times and, hopefully, it will make more sense than that.

Sorry, I am grumpy that Ingmar Bergman just died and all the obituaries have done is remind me how many of his films I haven’t seen.

UPDATE: Bugger this. I go to GreenCine Daily to find a good Bergman link and find that Michel Serrault and Michelangelo Antonioni also died this week (plus László Kovács, already noted). Antonioni’s The Passenger was one of my top three films in last year’s Film Festival.

Upcoming events

By Cinema, Conflict of Interest and Wellington

Loath as I am to let the real world intervene in this little oasis of semi-relevance (and as uncomfortable as I am about pimping my commercial activities here), I feel bound to let you know about a couple of important entertainment options I have a role in.

Firstly, my company, Miracle Pictures, is producing the 6th Latin American Film Festival which gets under way with a Gala Opening Night at the Embassy Theatre on Wednesday night (18 April, 7.30pm). There are a limited number of tickets available to the public and they will go on sale on Monday morning from the Embassy Box Office. Sales will be made on a first-come, first-served basis and will be cash only (due to the Embassy not wanting to mix my money with theirs for complex accounting reasons). Tickets are $20 and for that you’ll get to partake of some sponsors product (Corona Extra and caiparinhas courtesy of Scorpion Distribution) plus wine from Argentina and Chile and food from the region courtesy of the Latin American Embassies in Wellington.

Oh, and there will be a film screening as well: The Sacred Family (La Sagrada familia) from Chile. The film is rated R16 (Drug use, sex scenes and offensive language) which bodes well for a successful night, I’m sure you will agree.

This year’s festival features 8 award-winning feature films from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Peru (plus two prestigious shorts). The official festival site is here and there you will find details of all the films and screenings in each centre: Wellington, Auckland, Hamilton and Christchurch.

48 Hours logoI also want to let y’all know that registrations are now open for this year’s “V” 48 Hours, officially New Zealand’s largest film competition. I am managing the Wellington end for the fourth straight year.

Shoot weekend is May 18 — 20; Heats are at the Paramount between 23 and 31 May; Wellington Grand Final will be at the Embassy Theatre on Thursday 7 June.

Following that, the finalists from each participating city (plus the Peter Jackson-selected wildcards) go head-to-head “live” on C4 on Friday June 22.

All the information you need to take part can be found here. We have space for a few more teams than last year but when they’re gone, they’re gone.