Andrew Fagan was king for a day as The People rose, played, and sang along, with him as he rocked the Anthology Lounge with his usual bravado, elegance and regency, celebrating his new album Act Normal.
Last time I saw him was around a year ago as the Mockers’ resurgence continued with a blazing display at the Tuning Fork. This time he had some new people around him with Kurt Shanks (Stellar*), Darryn Harkness on lead guitar and keyboards, along with Joe Dekkers- Reihanna on guitar and John Murray having a whale of a time on drums.
This provided a heavier sound and, dare I say, just a touch of punk arrogance that really made the night a memorable one.
There is nothing more Kiwi than getting to the end of a Friday and digging into some Snapper and Chips, and quite a feed it was. With the Anthology Lounge starting to fill nicely, the band kicked off proceedings with a dark ditty called There’s No Noose Around My Head.
With sounds well off the garden path and hints of blues and alt country as a constant companion, the band kicked off what turned out to be a great set. The growing crowd had a chance to let their hair down just a little and slap their thighs along the way.
A quick break and Andrew Fagan and The People hit the stage. With some warm welcomes and gracious bows, they launched into Now You Know off his 1994 album Blisters. The band was tight and the track enjoyed a little more depth than the original, with two guitars, bass and drums driving it into the fast lane and that’s pretty much where we stayed for most of the night.
Act Normal followed: the title off the new album starts with a similar vocal style to Ghost Poet but then quickly heads into more familiar local sounds, letting both guitarist and bass shine.
This is when it hit me: there’s nothing better than hearing live music with seasoned musicians, mixed with an artist that you have grown up with.
Looking around the crowd it was clear most of the punters were thinking the same, all giving it a good nudge on the dance floor and why not: this was a party and a celebration, right?
To help everyone catch their breath, the pace slowed somewhat with what I think is a real gem, called You’ll be Fine, off the new album. With so much pressure in life Fagan sings about the simple things, rather than getting caught up in the misery of the future. The catchy chorus “just enjoy it and you’ll be fine / just explore it and you’ll be fine” sums it up nicely.
Then we jumped right back to the 80s with the classic Mockers hit Forever Tuesday Morning. I couldn’t help but jump and sing along to this one, with what was one of my favourite Mockers tracks sewn into my adolescent memory. It was an excellent rendition given there were really no keyboards to speak of here.
The night moved on with a quick clothing change as Fagan popped on his mirror ball jacket and rubber crown, all adding to the high jinx of the night. Three new tracks were played in succession: On Channel Me is a brilliant dig at social media users. You know the ones who are telling you they are feeling loved, feeling sad, or just going to the dentist etc etc... Scene of Fun is the opening track off the new album and, to me, the single off the album, and then closing the trilogy with So Small. A slower tempo track that you might sing at the end of the night with your mates, reminiscing on what might have been.
The night finished off with Swear It’s True (quite a feat given no keys) and One Black Friday, which almost brought the house down and was a brilliant way to close off what was a hell of a night.
After much banter “questions anyone, questions?” Fagan and The People came back with a final hurrah singing We Fell Out, also off the new album, and that was that.
Act Normal is a great album and my suggestion is act now and get a copy. You won’t be disappointed.
Radio 13 credits and thanks Trevor Villers for all the images featured in this article.