Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Touring with Luckless

I went on tour with Luckless last year in the springtime and I came back with a head full of new songs, glass in my foot, and a broken rib.  I maintain, at least, that it was broken: others claimed, rudely I thought, that if it was 'really broken' I would have been complaining more - both at the time and subsequently.  This is an attitude that betrays a fundamental lack of understanding (sadly all too common in these morally degenerate times) of the virtues of Putting Up and Making Do, of Carrying On and Suffering In Silence (or as near to silence as makes no odds) - the virtues that sustained the brave members of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedidtion in their times of hardship, that kept Scott's men trudging through the snow, finally to attain the South Pole a polite, modest and plucky second.  If Oates was capable of walking uncomplaining to his death on feet like sides of frozen mutton, if Shackleton could have a cat shot in the head and calmly order a round of warm milk for all hands, surely I can sustain a broken rib or two with only a small amount of perfectly understandable whining?

One of Captain Scott's dogs recreating the HMV logo on the ice.  Photo by the acclaimed Herbert Ponting, available from The National Library website, where one can spend many a happy hour looking at photos of explorers.

The glass in my foot came from Chick's Hotel, that haunted and crumbling pile next to the wharves at Port Chalmers.  There's supposed to be a tunnel there that runs from the docks to the basement of the pub - in days gone by they used to bring contraband, both goods and people, off the creaking tall ships and through the taproom in the dead of the night, apparently.  Although why you would bother to do this is anybody's guess, given the innumerable small coves around the harbour that would seem to present far more convinient smuggling routes.  I do know, though, that the crew of the Aurora, the ship that broke her moorings in a blizzard down in McMurdo Sound, abandoning Shackleton's ill-equipped Ross Sea party to the horrible privations of an Antarctic Winter, spent about six months laying up in Port Chalmers in 1916 while the Expedition Committe in London argued with the Colonial Governments of Australia and New Zealand, the British Crown, the Royal Navy, and an endless list of creditors about who would pay to go and rescue the men left on the ice - 'those penguins!' according to one W. Churchill (at that time first lord of the Admiralty) who was all for leaving them to their own not inconsiderable devices.  There is not a shred of doubt in my mind that the Aurora crew probably spent a lot of time at Chick's Hotel as they waited for orders and patched up their ship, and I like to think that it was a shard of one of their whiskey bottles that lodged itself in my foot at some ungodly hour while I stumbled about on the axminster carpet looking for my sleeping bag.

Donovan's Store: A cold day in Okarito

That tour was a great one for down time - we spent a misty day at Okarito, over on the West Coast where the white herons live, sitting in Donovan's Store drinking bad wine and playing all the songs we could remember in a room with wooden walls lined with photographs of everybody who lives in the town, all sitting in their living rooms. After that Ivy from Luckless kindly agreed to join my band and now she sings and hits a drum and it's just right.  After I came back from that tour I wrote a whole lot of songs that I haven't finished yet, and a a few that I have, and most of them seem to be about the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration: of which more later. The point is, Luckless have just released their debut album, which is called Luckless, and I urge you to go and buy it at once. To facilitate this, we're doing another tour, this time in the dead of the Winter, mostly in the South Island again because the South Island is a good place to be in the dead of the Winter. The album is a soaring, sweeping, serious piece of work, it's a hell of a lot better than most albums and it has not a shred of lazy hipster irony to it, which is refreshing and welcome in a time when so many damn things do. So come to the shows, by all means, and tell your friends: the Bond Street set will be all about explorers and the Luckless set will be awesome.  Here are the dates:


Friday 22nd June – The Moorings, Wellington with French For Rabbits (early-ish show, 7.30pm)
Saturday 23rd June – The Free House, Nelson
Sunday 24th June – The Dharma Bums Club, Wairau Valley (early show, 4pm)
Monday 25th June – Donovan’s Store, Okarito
Tuesday 26th June – Cooks Saddle, Fox Glacier
Wednesday 27th June – Theatrette, Oamaru
Thursday 28th June – The National, Dunedin, with Matt Langley
Friday 29th June – The Brewery, Christchurch
Saturday 30th June – The Darkroom, Christchurch, with Aldous Harding