Friday 27 April 2018. Wine Cellar, K’ Rd, Auckland, New Zealand.
I bought the first two Nocturnal Projections (NP) singles when they were first released back in 1982. Both were stolen when the flat I lived in in Green Bay was cleaned out by burglars early in 1983. My small collection at the time was a pretty good representation of the Auckland punk and early post-punk scene and the bands I used to see. Like most independent music in New Zealand not many copies of these records were pressed and I have not been able to find, or afford to buy them if I could find them since. I bought their third EP, released in 1983, and still have and play that now. They were heavily influenced by Joy Division and early Sioux and the Banshees, and those artists are visible in their songs. My favourite track is ‘Nerve ends in the power lines’ from one of those stolen EPs. Fortunately a German label released a CD of all their available music sometime in the 2000s, it is firmly lodged in the car CD stacker.
Graeme and Peter Jefferies were members and the main songwriters for NP and went on to form This Kind of Punishment (TKP) when NP broke up in 1983. I had not heard TKP before they first performed in Auckland in 84/85. I saw them at a gig at the Gluepot Hotel on a bill with three other bands I had not seen before. This live version of TKP was a three-piece with Chris Matthews from Auckland band Children’s Hour, another post-punk band, joining the Jefferies on stage. I think it fair to say we were expecting TKP to be loud, dark, and furious. They were not. Dark, yes. Loud and furious, absolutely not. Tracks backed by solo piano or guitar, I do not recall any bass player. They were mesmerising and beautiful, I have never been to a gig that was totally silent before, the audience blown away by the songs and the music. I was an instant fan.
I saw TKP a couple of other times after that. The final time was in 1985, a few days before I went to the UK to live for a couple of years. They were supporting Hunters and Collectors at Auckland Uni. It was the first and only concert I have been to where I, along with most of the audience, sat on the floor of the venue in stunned silence. A brilliant performance again.
TKP split up while I was living in the UK and Graeme started performing under ‘The Cake Kitchen’ with a revolving cast of supporting musicians, releasing a few EPs and LPs over the years. I have a couple of recordings, not being a fan of CDs I pretty much stopped buying music in the late 90s when vinyl almost completely dried up so have a few holes in my collection, which I will seek to rectify as old material gets re-mastered and re-released on vinyl.
Both of the Jefferies brothers built and have maintained a small but passionate following overseas, particularly in Europe and a lot of their material gets released on small independent labels. Dais Records out of the USA have been working with NP and released two records this week; the first is a collection of all their recorded output, and the second a set of live recordings. I have ordered the first of the LPs and it should be waiting for me when I get home. I am very much looking forward to putting it on the record player. The first two TKP LPs have also been re-released recently, though I still have the original, and increasingly more valuable, first pressings.
I would love to be saying that to support the release of these records that NP have reformed for some shows though that has not happened and is not likely to. However, Graeme performed a solo show tonight and I went along. Conveniently I was in Auckland at the right time.
I met my old mate Jeff at an Italian cafe on Auckland’s K’Rd, a strip of nightclubs, bars and venues that has existed since before my time. We had a couple of beers and a very nice meal before heading along to the venue – The Wine Cellar. I have only been here once before, it is small, with decent beer and an excellent sound system. For a small crowd and a solo show it is perfect.
Graeme was supported by i.e.crazy, another solo performer. I am not sure how to describe her music; dark electronica maybe. I mostly enjoyed her short set. I like the Beard of Bees LP sleeve design as the backdrop.
With no bands being involved there was not much equipment to faff about with so it was quite a quick change of artists and Graeme was on stage on time, and nice and early in the evening. Too early as not that many people were in when he started, most choosing to be out in the bar area. As the place filled up I moved my way towards the front and sat down on the floor, mainly to not be the tall dick standing in the front. I was joined by other sitters soon after.
He played for about 45 minutes, using both the guitar and the electric piano, with songs from all three of his previous bands, I am guessing most were from the TKP years, though there were were a couple of songs I did not recognise.
I was really hoping that he would play ‘The Sleepwalker’ my favourite TKP song, however it was written and sung by Chris Matthews on the ‘Beard of Bees’ LP so I was not surprised it wasn’t played. He did play ‘The Cake Kitchen’s ‘Dave the Pimp’ which I thoroughly enjoyed.
On the side of the stage was Graeme’s flying V electric guitar, I was really hoping he would play it, as that would signal to me a Nocturnal Projections track. Sadly it was not to be and the Gibson SG was the only guitar used all night, it still sounded good. He has quite a unique style of guitar playing, and it was interesting watching him play, along with his quite unique voice and some fabulous songs made for a very enjoyable, though sadly brief show.
I thoroughly enjoyed it, and it was over all too early. Thanks Jeff for securing tickets for this sold out show, and thanks for your company, it was really good to see you again.