1. Making Mojo magazine’s monthly playlist in April with The Captain, PHOENIX FOUNDATION were described as “sophisticated New Zealand moodists” who had “a 17-minute 80s-kissed mind-melter of a finale” to their new album, Fandango. The album itself got a respectable three stars when reviewed by the magazine in June: “Cloaked in fuzzy melancholy, Fandango is one for dreamers.” The Listener‘s Nick Bollinger praised the band’s “fearless following of instincts” – their “mixing of the high, the low, the sublime and the ridiculous”. Live, Phonenix Foundation’s mind-melters are something else again, as you can find out as they tour this month. Powerstation, Auckland, July 12; Bedford @ CPSU, Christchurch, July 19; Queens, Dunedin, July 20; Chicks Hotel, Dunedin, July 21; Cabana, Napier, July 26; James Cabaret, Wellington, July 27.
2. John Bach is back as Mark Rothko in the latest New Zealand production of John Logan’s multi-Tony-award-winning play about the painter, RED. Circa Two, Wellington, July 13-August 10. The tao of Keanu Reeves is celebrated in sci-fi send-up KEANU REEVES SAVES THE UNIVERSE. Basement Theatre, Auckland, July 16-20. JANE AUSTEN IS DEAD is the lament at Wellington’s Bats Theatre – although it’s less the lack of a Miss Austen than of a Mr Darcy being mourned in Mel Dodge’s comedy about the woeful prospects to be found on the contemporary dating circuit. July 9-13.
3. Steady yourself for a feast of fresh classical music with nary an old war horse in sight. The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra’s BOLD WORLDS features the return of percussionist Colin Currie, Finnish conductor Osmo Vanska and a bill that includes works by Arvo Part, Kalevi Aho and Carl Nielsen. Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington, July 5 (better get your skates on); CBS Canterbury Arena, Christchurch, July 10; Founders Theatre, Hamilton, July 12; Auckland Town Hall, July 13. The NZTRIO are back at Auckland’s Q Theatre for the first of their two-concert Loft Series of the year, which includes a new work by John Psathas, Corybas. July 14. That Psathas piece receives its New Zealand premiere a few days earlier, along with his new Aegean, as part of a free concert by the NEW ZEALAND CHAMBER SOLOISTS. Auckland Town Hall, July 10. I can’t guarantee fresh material, but there will be fresh new performers at the grand final of the inaugural WALLACE NATIONAL PIANO COMPETITION. Auckland Town Hall, July 7.
4. Meanwhile, back at the Wallace ranch – or, if you must, the Pah Homestead in Auckland – the fabulous-looking sculpture exhibition TERRY STRINGER: TRANSFIGURED HEADS. Until September 1.
5. When it’s winter, sometimes all you want to do is hunker down with the comforts you know and trust. You will have to leave the house for this one – and that’s a big ask, I know – but THE WARRATAHS are as comforting as a glass of mulled wine on a cold night. Le Cafe, Picton, July 11; The Boat House, Nelson, July 12; BB Bistro, Havelock North, July 18; King Street Live, Masterton, July 19; Thistle Inn, Wellington, July 20; Winemaker’s Daughter, Te Horo, Kapiti Coast, July 21.
Mojo called the Phoenix Foundation “moodists”; here are the real thing …