Time is a funny thing. It’s with us every day and we take it for granted, not sometimes realising how quickly it passes by. I was lucky enough to chat with respected singer-songwriter James Reid about this topic, amongst many others.
The Feelers are as synonymous with New Zealand Kiwiana as the Buzzy Bee when you think about the albums and songs they have produced over the past 21 years. So it was with some excitement that I called James to talk about his upcoming acoustic Songbook Tour and the show that I will be reviewing on the 4th of October in Auckland at the Tuning Fork.
I asked James what brought this gig on and what we could expect to hear in his upcoming show.
James said he loved touring and playing live and this was an intimate way to sing songs that haven’t always had the light of day, along with some Feelers favourites.
The show is designed to be interactive and relaxed, allowing the audience to yell out their song requests and make each night just a little different to the previous one. A recipe, from my perspective, that will make the evening a little more fun for the audience and, I suspect, for James as well, keeping each gig fresh along the way.
I had been dying to let James know that one of his songs was the anthem at the Balmoral Intermediate School when my son James was a student there. I told him I was blown away the first time I went to the school assembly and Stand Up, from the aptly named album Playground Battle, was sung with gusto by all the students. It brought a tear to my eye at the time and reinforced to me that we had chosen the right school for our son. The words worked perfectly and I asked James what he made of that. He thought it was amazing and was genuinely surprised.
The above story triggered a memory for him growing up at his school in Avonhead, Christchurch, where they played Yesterday by the Beatles, along with a slightly more obscure Beatles track Maxwell’s Silver Hammer.
We discussed how when you write a song and let it go you never quite know where it will land and how it might be interpreted in the future. I felt Stand Up worked perfectly for my son’s school, with lyrics and a message that was so appropriate for young developing minds.
We also talked about another gig that James is going to be playing at on the 23rd of September, called Playing It Strange. It’s a charity gig for Play It Strange, a small but passionate organisation that helps to get song-writing in schools.
James said he was really looking forward to the night, if not with a little trepidation playing in front of Mick Fleetwood and Sir Bob Geldoff with a cover of the Beatles hit Strawberry Fields Forever. Not an easy track to sing, but James thinks it’s an awesome song and can’t wait to give it a crack.
His acoustic tour has 14 dates around the country so it will be a frantic time, made busier by his plan to write songs while on the road. These will eventually be part of a new album that he wants to release in the new year.
We talked about some of his previous gigs with The Feelers and the one I remembered most fondly, which was many years ago on Christmas Eve at the Empire Hotel in Auckland. The night was particularly memorable, not only because of the success of the band at the time, but thanks to some unique elements that added to the experience.
The packed gig was nicely warmed up by comedian Ewan Gilmour, which was a first for me instead of having a band as a support act. The other wonderful part of the evening was an acoustic set, which was quite unexpected at that time and a perfect way to spotlight and reinvent some of the older tracks.
Drawing near to the end of the interview I had to ask if Venus (my favourite Feelers track) would get an airing and perhaps a little reinvention on the night. James said: “I guess you will have to wait and see,” with a little smile in his voice.
While we were discussing what he will be doing after the gigs (his intention is to write more and hopefully bring out a new album every year) James blurted out: “How can it have been 2013 when I released Saints? That’s just ridiculous! Six years disappeared just like that”. He had googled while we had been talking and it made me laugh as I suggested that time seems to go a lot quicker as we get older. Well, that’s what my mum would say and I kind of believe her now. We said our goodbyes and I wished him all the best for the upcoming gigs.
Luckily, by the sounds of it, we won’t have to wait another six years before James Reid releases a new album and, who knows, maybe one of them will be sung at a future school assembly your kids might go to. However, if you don’t want to wait that long check out the real thing at a venue coming to you soon. I don’t think you will be disappointed.