Meet the Makers: Auckland Town Hall Tours NZMM Edition curator, Gareth Shute

Meet the Makers: Auckland Town Hall Tours NZMM Edition Curator, Gareth Shute

Published: Wednesday 17 May 2023

New Zealand Music Month is in full swing this year and we’re super excited to share that we sat down with our special edition of the Auckland Town Hall Tours curator, Gareth Shute, for a one on one written interview about why you should come to the Auckland Town Hall Tours this May! Gareth Shute is a well known music historian and award-winning author known for works such as Making Music in New Zealand, Insgits: New Zealand Artists Talk About Creativity and NZ Rock: 1987 – 2007. Read on to hear about his insights, passion and deep love of our historical music venue. Our fabulous Auckland Town Hall Tours for New Zealand Music Month are on Sun 21 & Sat 27 May at select times from 11am.

Introduce yourself, your practice and your connection with music?
I am a music historian, who writes regularly for NZ music history website Audioculture and I've also written five books, including NZ Rock and Hip Hop Music In Aotearoa (which won a national book award).

Tell us about your upcoming project/show.
Auckland Town Hall regularly offers behind-the-scenes tours, so people can get a real sense of how this 100+ year old building operates. For NZ Music Month, I was asked to introduce a whole bunch of new material to this tour to emphasise Auckland Town Hall's amazing role as a music venue.

What can audiences expect from the project/show?
The guides who take the tour are experts in the history of the venue and take you to many places in the building that you would never normally get to go. This current version of the tour also has some fun new anecdotes that should give people an in-depth appreciation of some of the musical happenings that have taken place here over the years. After all, this is where the Beatles played in the 1960s and there's definitely some stories about that. More recently, one famous musicians convinced the staff to let him have a go on the town hall organ without seeking proper permission, so that tale is in there too.

What are some of your own favourite memories of gigs at the Auckland Town Hall?
When I was a teen, I saw some of my favourite bands of the time play here - Faith No More, Jane's Addiction, and Nick Cave (to name a few). It opened my eyes to see some of the support acts too - I became a fan instantly after seeing Hallelujah Picassos support Violent Femmes here. It was also the place where I first had a chance to be a gig photographer. Craccum sent me along to cover the Sonic Youth concert, after I did a phone interview with their drummer. The only problem was, I didn't own a camera! I had to buy a disposable one and do my best, but some of the shots came out surprisingly well and were perfect for what the magazine needed, so it all worked out fine.
Since the new millennium, it's been amazing seeing how many local acts are popular enough to play headlining shows here. The Aotearoa Hop Hop Summit used to take place at the Town Hall in the early 00s and that was always one of my live highlights of any year at the time. More recently, the shows performed here by The Beths, Marlon Williams, and Lawrence Arabia at the Town Hall were all amazing!

What’s the best music gig you’ve seen this year?
My favourite gig so far was WOMAD. I always like having my musical appreciation expanded, so it was cool to see everything from local jazz-rap maestros Avantdale Bowling Club to Tuareg guitarist Mdou Moctar to Romani violinist Taraf de Caliu (to mention just a few). I took along my ten-year old son and I think it's the only festival in Aotearoa where you could take along a kid of that age by yourself and feel totally relaxed about it.

What makes a great album in your opinion?
That's a hard question to answer. One important aspect is that it has something to say about the time in which it's being released. It could that the lyrics comment on the contemporary moment or the music could push things in a new direction (or bring back an old style that has been neglected).

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