APRA's Silver Scroll Awards rolled around Tuesday night. This event celebrates our songwriters in fine fashion. APRA's (Australasian Performing Rights Association) members get together and have a mighty fine knees-up featuring music, of course, and much drunkenness and tomfoolery, but that's later in the evening.
One of the highlights is the performance of each of the five finalists' songs being transformed by other artists. Damien Binder's 'Til Now' was sung by Heather Mansfield of The Brunettes with the SJD band and a choir. It was the first song performed on the night and a very mellow rendition - so laid back that it drifted by most of the audience. Perhaps starting off with something more raucous might've helped.
Anika Moa and Anna Coddington (from Handsome Geoffrey) strolled out to perform Golden Horse's 'Riverhead'. "This is our attempt at a Golden Horse song - wherever you guys are, hope you like it. Oh shit, you're right there," says a startled Anika as she spies the band sitting near the front. Anika and Anna performed a stripped down version that had its own delightful charm, especially in the middle when Anika slipped in "we made this next bit up" and did a little dance. Golden Horse later won the most performed song in New Zealand award.
Bindspott's 'Plhex' (love those wacky hiphop spelling lessons) was performed by Jordan Reyne, accompanied by Indra Hughes on the Auckland Town Hall's organ and a chinky sounding drum machine, which was pretty impressive.
The MCs for the evening were comedians The Naked Samoans, dressed in tracksuits which made them look vaguely sporty - or was it meant to be hiphop? Dunno. They told us that all those videos with people putting their hands in the air wouldn't exist if it weren't for the songwriters. "There'd be nothing to put your hands in the air to." Then one of them adds "You might as well have thalidomide, 'cos there'd be no reason to put your hands in the air," which caused some shocked laughter and horrified looks to shoot round the room. Now that's pushing the envelope for ya!
The Naked Samoans did a fine job of ribbing the official speakers, like coming back on stage after Arthur Baysting: "ladies and gentlemen, Arthur Baysting. Riveting speech, Arthur, you had us with hello."
The inaugural Maioha award, presented by Cliff Curtis, went to Ngahiwi Apanui for 'Wharikihia'. Ngahiwi thanked APRA in his speech, noting that their cheque usually turned up just when he was in the poo. "It's the most money I've ever got from music. When I do a gig, two people turn up and they're both cousins, AND they refuse to pay!" The Naked Samoans came back on stage after him and made several delightfully politically incorrect comments about Maori before getting it back on track with "Let's give it up for Maori people". After dutiful applause one of the Naked Samoans added, "It's their country - we're just paying rent."
Some politicans were in attendance. Judith Tizard made a speech after a ridiculously overhyped intro. She said that "Bill English sends his apologies." He'd lost his job earlier that day. Peter Biggs, chairman of The Arts Council at Creative New Zealand, suggested that what we needed was less statues of Queen Victoria and one of composer Douglas Lilburn, which I think is a brilliant idea. Classical composer Gillian Whitehead won the Sounz Contemporary award for her work 'Alice'.
Rock band Augustino ambled on stage and churned their way through Ill Semantics 'Highway', eventually getting their groove on mid-song to the approval of the Dawn Raid table, who waved their hands in the air like they just didn't care.
The winner of the Silver Scroll was Nesian Mystik with 'For the people'. The band accepted the award (and $5000 cheque) in a prerecorded video as they're currently in England plying their trade. 'For the people' was performed earlier in the evening by a gentleman introduced as "New Zealand's own Frank Sinatra" which gives you an idea of his take on it. Think 'Nesians are you with me' sung Vegas-style, with strings and band. It was so cheesy and twisted - in a good way, mind. Hats off to the incredibly talented Victoria Kelly, musical director for the evening, for such a great job.
This year marked the final Silver Scrolls for APRA boss Mike Chunn. After 11 years with the organisation he's leaving for fresh pastures. Mike's first play The Orderly Business of Life was recently performed in Auckland but he is giving no clues as to his next move. Before he made his way to the stage a video tribute from his staff at APRA played, with Jordan Luck leading them in a rousing rendition of the Exponents' 'I'll say goodbye', sung as "Michael; we'll say goodbye, even though we're blue.' It was touching listening to his staff talk about him with much affection, especially the comment that no one could ever call Mike aggressive 'cos he drives like a nanna. Mike took the stage to a standing ovation. He has done a hell of a lot in raising the profile of New Zealand music and helping expand the possibilities for many of the songwriters in the room. He had planned to wing the speech but got told to write something down, so he did. He thanked his staff in his usual witty, erudite fashion, mentioning various characteristics he would miss. He left the stage to another standing ovation but didn't come back out. The Naked Samoans tried to entice him back but with no luck. So later they just carried him back on and made everybody stand and applaud again, just so he didn't miss it. Nice blokes.
After that it all got a bit hazy. Once the awards have finished, the fun part of the night begins - the second stage. This is where anyone can get up and sing two songs maximum. All sorts of musical shenanigans go on here. The Silver Scrolls are a great night to catch up with people I haven't seen in ages; an event thankfully devoid of any music industry hype or self important BS. It's just a bloody good night out. There were some other awards and things, but you can get that from the official news sources.