The Verlaines 1985

The Verlaines 1985

Late in 1985 The Verlaines released their debut album ‘Hallelujah, All the Way Home’. Already serial over-achievers, the album was an extraordinary offering by anyone’s standards. Right from the gatefold sleeve, ornate Middle Ages themed cover art through to the music within (classical horns, strings, choirs… but also still that aloof coolness rubbing up against raging fury & scorn) this album demanded to be taken seriously.
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I was writing about music for The Southland Times in Invercargill at the time, having badgered my way onto their weekly ‘Music Scene’ feature because no-one was covering the remarkable music happening two and a half hours drive up the road. The only thing that prevented their ‘dark, brooding masterpiece’ from being my album of 1985 in my year-end list in the Times was the small matter of The Go-Betweens ‘Springhill Fair’ also released that year and a fixture on my turntable.

Review from The Southland Times 18 January 1986

Review from The Southland Times 18 January 1986

Twenty-eight years later the same line up of Graeme Downes, Jane Dodd & Robbie Yeats performed the album at a Christmas party at the Kings Arms in Auckland on 20th December 2013 billed as ‘Jangle All the Way Home’. The show was hosted by Flying Out Records (mail-order operation of the now revitalised Flying Nun Records) and also marked the re-issue of ‘Hallelujah, All the Way Home’.

It was a majestic performance. Graeme Downes – who these days looks a combination of Mick Jagger & Keith Richards, kept whippet-thin on cigarettes, whiskey & nerves – was as brilliant and biting as ever as guitarist, singer and band-leader. Bassist Jane Dodd played with the kind of calm steady propulsion that belied the fact her only two performances on bass in the past decade have been for one-off Able Tasmans and The Chills original line-up re-unions a few years ago now. Robbie Yeats likewise played with a fluid ease and loose perfection that was the opposite of his usual deconstructionist drum antagonism with the Dead C (and anyone else he sits in with).

The party (and it WAS a real festive party spirit) also included Surf City (Auckland/ Arch Hill Records sonic descendants of some of The Verlaines Dunedin peers) and a set from the current line-up of The Verlaines (including ‘Death & the Maiden’).

Flying Out had the presence of mind to include some of the newest progeny from Dunedin’s alternative music gene pool, representing two of the labels they also sell via their website – Muzai Records represented by the thrilling ‘space-glaze’/ ‘punk-gaze’ Astro Children and (my own label) Fishrider Records – represented by ‘flower cult pop’ band Trick Mammoth.

The photos here from Arch Hill/ Flying Nun boss Ben Howe tell the story of the evening in pictures.

Trick Mammoth at the Kings Arms Auckland 20 December 2013

Trick Mammoth at the Kings Arms Auckland 20 December 2013

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