November has clearly been set aside as Nostalgia Month.
At least that’s how it seemed when two bundles of promotional leaflets dropped across the lawn of the Watusi Country Club on the same afternoon, both offering trips back into a past I was hoping to avoid reliving.
First up, at the Totara Street performance venue of MauaoPAC on November 4, is a return of the show Totara Street’s Ross Shilling tells me was the single most popular event there in 2016, tied in attendance with only Katchafire. I know right away which I’d prefer...
But, in case you’re not a reggae fan, I can reveal – and, damn, don’t newspapers like ‘revealing’ things these days? Once upon a time it was called ‘reporting’ – that the show in question is the return of AutoMatic 80s.
Yep. The Mount’s most popular act of 2016 was an 80s cover band.
A celebration of the decade that taste forgot. Without wanting to sound intolerant to people who live and breathe 80s music, this sort of news makes me want to put my head in an oven. Perhaps in keeping with the theme it could be a nice pastel blue or yellow oven.
Meanwhile, I can bring myself to do no more than quote the press release.
“AutoMatic 80s delivers the smash hits of this unforgettable and exciting musical era.
From bands like Human League, Simple Minds, Duran Duran, Blondie, Culture Club through to artists like Kate Bush and Robert Palmer, AutoMatic 80s performances will transport you back to those heady, youthful times and leave you wanting more.”
The band apparently features the “the astonishing sound-alike vocals and high energy stage antics of front man Justin Maclaren.” Yikes! One vague point of interest for music lovers: Boh and Bic’s sister Pearl Runga also sings.
But perhaps you remain nostalgic for events even further back in the mists of musical time.
There’s a show for that too. And the way you answer one of music’s seminal questions will determine whether it is the one for you.
There are many important musical questions (beyond the obvious ones like “do ukuleles really burn that easily?”): Country or Western? Fender or Gibson? The Beatles or The Stones? AC or DC?
But the important one here is Punk or Disco?
Punk or disco?
And, for once, I can say “I was there”. Because as a little Watusi living in the UK I was on the frontline –or at least observing it – as punk reared its rebellious head and everyone suddenly had records by The Sex Pistols and The Clash and The Damned and The Buzzcocks and a dozen other bands that were definitely going to upset your parents.
And if one dressed in torn T-shirts, safety pins and studs, and pogoed to punk bands in working class London, you can imagine the reaction when some witless American in a three-piece white suit came along and started waving his arms around to falsetto singing from the bloody Bee Gees.
Yes, it was punk back then and I’m not about to change camps now.
But others may enjoy the 40th Anniversary Tour of Saturday Night Fever, coming to the ASB Arena at Baypark on November 14.
This ‘contemporary retelling’ of the story features all the songs and a veritable bucket load of dancers.
If you don’t happen to remember the original story I can remind you: boy is unhappy so goes dancing on Saturday nights; boy meets girl; boy and girl go dancing together.
That’s it really. And then they both get some summer lovin’. Oh, hang on, that was the 50s nostalgia trip, not the 70s one.
I don’t know why I’m so down on these shows. Perhaps I’m just over nostalgia. So in a final attempt to raise the tone of this column let me leave you with a quote from the author Milan Kundera: “The Greek word for ‘return’ is nostos. Algos means ‘suffering’.
So nostalgia is the suffering caused by an unappeased yearning to return.”
Ponder that while you’re singing “Oh, oh, oh oh, Staying Alive!”