In case you've been out of the Kokomoland loop, our dear friend Richard O'Brien celebrated his 75th birthday on March 24th at Baycourt Theatre in Tauranga in front of a sold out 600 strong crowd, all to raise money for Starship Children's Hospital. The evening raised $32,000 and the show was a blast!
So some thoughts...
Firstly, nothing to do with Richard, Craig McLachlan who came over from Oz especially, was fantastic! I know bugger-all about him apart from the fact that he was once on Neighbours and currently stars in the very serious Dr Blake series on the Vibe TV channel.
I watched that again last night and I still couldn't recognise him. The dour scene presence in '50s garb is so absolutely opposite to the enthusiastic, funny and pumped-up performer that we met. He's a great singer, a damn fine guitarist and a bunch of fun to be around. And he's a magnificent Fank-N-Furter – hats off to Craig!
And Richard was, of course, scintillating, as good on stage that night as I've seen him. But that wasn't what stuck in my mind about Mr O'B...
What blew me away was the new song. We got to present a new Richard O'Brien song to the world and, in my mind at least, that's a significant thing. A new Richard O'Brien song is an event.
Because if there's one thing I value most highly amongst Richard's many gifts, it is his songwriting. He is a simply stunning songwriter, and I say that as someone who beavers away at the same craft. Actually, it's a good humbler having Richard as a friend. When I write something new I'll often play it for him and, as you do with a new song, often I feel pretty pleased with myself.
But that works both ways. A couple of days later Richard will play me something new of his and, most regularly, my jaw will hit the floor. One easy way to get put in your place as a songwriter is to hear something new from Richard.
And a couple of years back Richard wrote a series of “film noir” songs, a gangster-themed cycle of hard-boiled detective fiction. And “Harry Singer”, which we debuted, is one of those songs, and one that still takes my breath away with its complexity, imagination and sheer rhyming power.
And it might be the rhyming that blows me away most. Early on Richard sets up one of the chief hoods, with the lines: “In a corner of the bowery / that ain't too hearts and flowery”.
(There are so many clever lines I wish I could quote them all! And apologies if I've mangled any of them.)
But it's right at the end that it knocks me out. The main hood is dead and the song takes a left-turn into typically rude absurdist humour: “He might have ruled the Bowery / but now he's Satan's bitch twice hourly”. Apart from being very funny, it's that rhyme that gets to me: “Satan's bitch twice hourly”. It just rolls out like the most obvious line in the world and you start wondering – did Richard plan that rhyme, that just falls into place absolutely naturally, right from the start?
It's the same with the Rocky songs: there seems so much that just cleverly falls into place, even puns on character names “wise up Janet Weiss” or “You're a hot dog but you better not hurt her, Frankfurter”, that the whole thing is like a house of cards – dazzling!
Colin retired last year as our official publicist or manager or any of the many things he did for the band (though he's still looking after this website) but every time he tries to get out and get on with his own projects something keeps pulling him back. And so it was this time!
I suspect he is still recovering from this latest bash but I just wanted to take this chance to let everyone know what a fantastic job he did and does.
Colin was the publicist and so much more – stage manager, video clip wrangler, photographer, catering organiser, and pretty much everything that didn't involve playing instruments. I was simply blown away by the work he put into this show (and our one last Easter). Budding promoters should do internships with him to learn the skills required.
So there we go. Thank you all for coming to the show. If we missed you there we'll catch you down the Strand in Tauranga at Easter. We're playing on Stage 4, 4.30pm, Sunday 16 April.