The idea? Every day in May, to mark NZ Music Month and 38 years of his own rancid opining and reportage, Gary Steel will present something from his considerable behind. Personal archive, that is. The following piece appeared in Metro in November 2002.
IT SAYS HERE: You are invited to a Press Conference and Performance by Bic Runga. Could even the hardest media hack say no to that? The venue: Cardiac, a groovy High St bar. The time: 10am?!? The perfect strategy to eliminate the usual alcohol consumption, and a great way to limit potential attendance.
A motley crew of about 30 nondescript journalists and media flunkies turn up and fight for their right to flat whites.
Such functions are dismal affairs at the best of times, and this one is bottom rung. PR bints choke on their croissants while former Citizen Band/Angels drummer turned tour manager Brent Eccles announces Bic Runga’s December tour (13 cities! Her band comprises members of Pluto and Goldenhorse! Boh will appear! Bore will appear! … That’s Australian bore Paul Kelly, to you.)
Eccles reels off the stats: Beautiful Collision top 10 for three months! Double Platinum already! Created a stir in all corners of the globe! ‘I’m sure we’ll be savouring every moment of her tour as the international demands on her time increase.’ Never mind the demands at home.
There she is, looking fantastic as always, but tired and what a husky little voice.
The ‘press conference’ begins, and we’re urged to ask questions. Oh Jeez, are there ANY journalists here? Huge pregnant pause, titters. Three unspeakably dumb questions are asked, each time punctuated by increasingly awkward silences.
Bic looks lost in this unnecessary ordeal. She’s just arrived from a successful Aussie tour. About to spend some time in the States.
Sony head Michael Glading rescues the moment with that old standby, the faked presentation of Platinum awards. Several of them. ‘She’s just sung and talked her way through Australia for the past three weeks, doing absolutely everything that was asked of her. Once we leave here she’s going to go and do the whole process in America. Once she does this tour, she then goes off to Europe and does it all again. Whilst it always appears a glamorous life, it’s also a bloody hard life and she deserves all the thanks that we give her.’ Uh yes, Michael.
Polite clapping, then ‘the performance’, comprising just one song. It’s a ragbag rendition of a sing-a-longa Stones-like anthem by the Jayhawks with more of a ‘we’re-all-boys-in-the-band’ feel about it than a lonesome singer-songwriter thing. And suddenly, from looking bored and vulnerable and distressed and ultimately bewildered in this patently absurd situation, Bic is animated, briefly lost in the rock’n’roll moment. GARY STEEL
Notes: This is the kind of piece I like writing, because it provides a different perspective to the typical by-rote coverage of the endless cycle of releasing and promoting albums and tours. We need (and deserve) more than an interview to promote a new record. There should be stories about artists that aren’t tied to product. But somehow, that’s a radical proposition.