Words/Photo Wal Reid

If you haven’t heard Southland singer Mel Parsons sing My Friend then you probably haven’t heard the best of Mel Parsons. Don’t get me wrong, I like her in full-throttle band mode, but tonight was her opportunity to turn out as she called it a “sad” song in tonight’s set of bouncy feel-good numbers.  After seeing her earlier this year at Auckland’s Galatos, I’m inclined to feel a little nostalgic.

She came armed with a Lorde story (or two) and with the talented Greg Johnson in tow, a dynamic duo of New Zealand’s musical landscape, a musical marriage that just made good bloody sense. Him, a prolific singer/songwriter and a damn good raconteur, Johnson’s knack at writing a good catchy tune didn’t go unnoticed during the 90s, and together with singer/guitarist Ted Brown and millennials, drummer Jed Parsons and Josh Logan on bass, gave the timeless hits a 21st century rejuvenated kick in the arse.

The affable Mel Parsons was on form.  I love her bling dresses (does she not wear pants?), her relaxed story telling heeding to her melodic nature, her set list flowed seamlessly, as if birthed for this occasion. A couple of moments in the set seemed a tad stilted, maybe from traipsing the same musical territory, but never waning.

Her music enveloping the audience in waves, with the faithful few dancing up the front, even I was surprised by how many songs I recalled from her previous gig.  Greg Johnson joined her on stage for the closing numbers, whipping out his trumpet got the crowd back to its feet, bobbing their heads in time with the music, the band solid and visually enjoying the dynamic of Johnson’s presence.

Johnson also had his time to shine, as the onstage banter flowed thick & fast, Johnson was quick to retort with the band as he jived with Mel’s rhythm section, singer/songwriter Ted Brown was invaluable, backing with his tight harmonies and guitar finesse.  At one stage the subject of Christchurch’s Wizard popped up with Johnson asking if anyone knew where he was, even suggesting bassist Josh was his son. It was all done in jest and added a light-hearted vibe to the night.

Mel’s end of year tour with Greg Johnson is the perfect way to take in a night of good healthy dose of MOR (middle-of-the-road), Johnson on keys and a penchant for a good melody, while Mel’s catchy acoustic tunes seem to hit it off together.  Go see ‘em at a town near you, it will be a bloody good night of dance and song from these two creative muses.