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The Church Tour

October 2015

In 2004, Civic Events produced a national acoustic church tour for Bic Runga around New Zealand, the idea springing from a show Bic had played in the Union Chapel in London in 2003. We have some amazing churches in New Zealand, beautiful places built for singing, soloists or choirs of voices. In that environment, perhaps accompanied by piano or organ, acoustic guitars, stand up bass and percussion, every note is crystal clear, at the front and all the way at the back; the sound is pure and magnificent. The tour was a huge success – the music, the leadlight and the bar heaters. It was a unique and special tour event.  From the seed of an idea in a serene chapel on a cold London night, through the national sell out success of this first tour of churches in 2004, and a few years of further germination, “The Church Tour” launched as an annual event in 2009.

  • Shows

    Thursday 1 October

    St John’s Cathedral, Napier

    Friday 2 October

    Holy Trinity, Tauranga

    Saturday 3 October

    Holy Trinity Cathedral, Auckland

    Monday 5 October

    Old St Paul’s, Wellington

    Tuesday 6 October

    Old St Paul’s, Wellington

    Thursday 8 October

    St Michael & All Angels, Christchurch

    Friday 9 October

    The Cardboard Cathedral, Christchurch

    Saturday 10 October

    Knox Church, Dunedin

  • Artists

    Delaney Davidson, Tami Neilson, Barry Saunders & Marlon Williams

    Delaney Davidson is a singer, songwriter, producer and travelling minstrel - ten years on the road, of no fixed abode. He’s inspired by icons from Hank Williams and Howlin’ Wolf down through Johnny Cash and back up to Buster Keaton. He is a three-time winner of the APRA New Zealand Country Music Song of the Year, has a Country Album of the Year Tui Award, has produced albums for tour mate Tami Neilson and had his Swim Down Low album trumpeted by the UK Independent as “a rattling, twanging celebration” (5 stars).

    Tami Neilson has a soulful voice straight from the golden age of country and rockabilly music. A winner of multiple Country Album of the Year Tuis and a prestigious APRA Silver Scroll for Song of the Year (2014) amongst many other career highlights, Tami has been described as a “red-hot honky-tonker, somewhere between Patsy Cline and Wanda Jackson with perhaps just a little bit of Peggy Lee sophistication.” (Nick Bollinger, NZ National Radio). Her last album Dynamite received a 5/5 star review in the NZ Herald, which praised “This world-class album is a major statement from an artist at the top of her lyrical and vocal game”.


    Barry Saunders adventured far and wide as a young gigging musician, playing in bands in New Zealand, Australia and the UK. When Barry pitched back up in Wellington some misty years ago, living on a diet of Hank Williams, Hank Snow, Jimmy Rogers, early Elvis and Chuck Berry, he formed The Warratahs and gave us songs that have become part of the national lexicon – from 'Maureen' and 'Hands of My Heart' to the 'Interislander Song' and 'Rescue Me'. The Warratahs continue to roam (having just released a brilliant new album Runaway Days), alongside and in tandem with Barry’s solo work, which has included the glorious Magnetic South (winner of the Country Album of the Year Tui) and Red Morning. Barry Saunders is an icon.

    Marlon Williams has been described as the impossible love child of Elvis, Roy Orbison and Townes van Zandt. At the age of 17 he exploded onto the NZ music scene, fronting  acclaimed alt-country band The Unfaithful Ways, then gathered a Country Album of the Year Tui with his tour mate Delaney Davidson and has just released his phenomenal self-titled debut album. Music industry bible Billboard Magazine has already tipped: “Expect to see and hear a lot more from this man with the voice of an angel”.

  • History

    2014

    dave-dobbyn-don-mcglashan_134_c2a92013-steve-dykes-edit-edit

    This was a very special year, as we paired two songwriters who through their stellar careers have chronicled just what it is to be a New Zealander. Dave Dobbyn & Don McGlashan own 5 Silver Scroll awards for “NZ Song Of The Year” between them and together in concert they were mesmerising, spine tingling and not least utterly uplifting. Very, very special.

    2013

    Dragon_130_©2013-Steve-Dykes

    One of New Zealand’s all time favourite pub bands, Dragon, reinvented their sound and their singalong anthems for the Church Tour, but lost none of their passion and commitment in the process as the rafters were raised and the leadlight rattled to hits stretching from “April Sun in Cuba” to “Rain”. Who knows what the clergy made of it – we didn’t wait to ask!

    2012 

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    This was a riot. Infectious, zany and comedic, but always glorious as the unique but beautifully complementary songwriting and vocal talents of Anika Moa, Boh Runga and Hollie Smith combined, together in concert. The three divas performed songs from their individual catalogues, as well as from their debut ‘AnikaBoh&Hollie’ album ‘Peace of Mind.’

    2011

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    Bic Runga returned to the Church Tour and the music scene after a five year break from music to be a full time mum. One of the very best songwriters this country has ever produced, owner of a voice gifted from God, she once again made the Church Tour her own, joined by former Mint Chicks Kody Nielson and Michael Logie.

    2010

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    Dave Dobbyn headlined the 2010 Tour, a national treasure and a songwriter/singer and guitarist of extraordinary talent. In the magnificent Church environment his voice shone bigger and brighter than ever before. Dave performed with percussionist Ross Burge and, at times, members of Christchurch band Dukes who were also the opening act.

    2009

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    The Tour featured two of New Zealand’s most successful songwriting and performing talents – Greg Johnson and Boh Runga. The shows saw both artists on stage together for their whole set, performing their own and each other’s songs – together.  Joining them was Zed front man and solo hit-maker, Nathan King and the tour introduced a bright new talent in young Auckland singer/songwriter Lydia Cole.

  • Frequently Asked Questions

    WHAT TIME DOES IT START/FINISH?
    For all shows doors open at 7.30pm and the show will start at 8.00pm, finishing at approximately 10.30pm.

    Doors open at 7.00pm at Holy Trinity Cathedral in Auckland.

    HOW DO I BUY TICKETS? 

    Tickets for all shows will be available for purchase from this this website & Ticketmaster  from 12pm on Monday 6th July.

    WHAT IS THE TICKET PRICE?

    The ticket price for all tickets purchased from Monday 6 July through to the relevant show date will be $69.50 plus booking fees.

    Door sales will be available for each show (if not sold out prior), the ticket price will be $80 flat.

    CAN I PURCHASE ALCOHOL/FOOD/DRINKS ON THE PREMISES? 

    Food and beverages will be available for purchase at Old St Paul’s (Wellington) – cash only and the Cardboard Cathedral (Christchurch) – credit card/eftpos only.

    Food and beverages will not be for sale or permitted at the remaining venues in Napier, Tauranga, Auckland, Christhucrch (St Michaels & All Angels only) and Dunedin.

    IS IT ALLOCATED SEATING?

    Seating is provided for this event, but tickets for the Church Tour are sold as general admission, so your seating location is based on a first come first served basis.

    CAN I BRING MY CAMERA?

    No professional cameras (SLRS or removable lens cameras) or recording devices are allowed. Camera phones or ‘point and shoot’ cameras are allowed. No flash.

  • Reviews

    Kiwi legends' double act is heaven sent (2014)

    This double-up of national treasures Dave Dobbyn and Don McGlashan marks the fifth year of this annual acoustic church tour, a chance for veteran acts to do the sit-down unplugged mix-it-up thing in venues which might inspire a hushed reverence in their respective flocks.

    No, this isn’t the night to heckle Dave to play Bliss, my son.

    Dobbyn had taken it to the pews of the nation solo a few years ago. This time, with McGlashan, was a chance for the pair to bounce between their respective Great New Zealand Songbooks – both of which probably should come with fold-out maps given their shared sense of geography – and add some new elegant touches to the familiar.

    The pair had made up the set list by naming their favourites among each other’s songs.

    Said McGlashan of the tour prep: “Learning one of Dave’s songs is like meeting a long-lost family member who has lived a vivid parallel life to my own.”

    The result on this hometown third night of the tour was a gently enchanting show to a sold-out congregation at Parnell’s Holy Trinity Cathedral, the venue making up for what it lacked in decent sightlines to the seated musicians with warmly cavernous acoustics.

    It got better as it went along. The opening ballads of Dobbyn’s Beside You and McGlashan’s Andy felt a mite tentative, the latter suffering from too much acoustic 12-string lushness.

    But with Dobbyn later mostly opting for electric guitar and the arrival of a rhythm section which included former Mutton Birds drummer Ross Burge, it soon gelled into musical tag-team magic.

    Both men were content to accompany each other with harmonies and deft playing of multiple instruments rather than offer their own interpretations of each other’s songs, but they still pulled out some surprises. Among them Dobbyn’s Song of the Years, his setting of a James K. Baxter poem from the 2000 tribute album, was one of the night’s most stirring moments as it closed the first half of the show.

    There were others – a hymnal Anchor Me with McGlashan on piano played after Loyal, which came with Dobbyn’s amusing introduction trying not to mention a certain sporting event. And there was the added entertainment value in both men’s stage banter with Dobbyn’s happy heartfelt rambles against McGlashan’s self-deprecating wryness.

    Yes, of course, it was preaching to the converted who responded with a standing ovation which won them a double encore. But this double-act in this setting acted as a fine reminder of just how special the songs and voices of each man remain.

    Russell Baillie - NZ Herald

    Dragon rock the roof off (2013)

    If your band is over 30, let’s face it: you’re going to church. For others (Dobbyn & McGlashan, EnzSo), holy tours have worked to varying degrees of success. But does playing in a church mean you’ve turned your back on rocking out for the acoustics?

    Have you resigned yourself to becoming a heritage act for the grey hair circuit? Thankfully, this isn’t the case for Dragon: they’ve passed the 40th  anniversary and still sound like a new group with something to prove.

    Comprising of original member Todd Hunter, vocalist Mark Williams, Paul Drummond and Bruce Reid, St. Paulsl has put the konk back into Dragon’s konkaroo. The acoustic rearrangements show that they care, that they haven’t thrown in the towel. There are still moments that groove with the Ponsonby spirit of old.

    The set starts with an acapella Still in Love with You, one of their great, oft forgotten songs.  The dated production has been stripped away, revealing something a bit more organic, a bit more human. Williams is also an affable, lovely front-man with a stellar voice – he can also wail like a blind boy from Alabama.

    A number of tunes are filtered through bluesy, brooding rumbles (Body & the Beat, Get That Jive), whilst the big singles in faithful renditions (April Sun in Cuba, Rain).  For fans of the musicians behind the sound, this is their night. With colours morphing in the stage’s backdrop, it seemed as though the ghosts of Dragons past loomed above the men on stage. It may be the best they’ve ever sounded too.

    Overall, Dragon have put on a thoroughly enjoyable show, rightfully reclaiming songs that have been stolen by cover bands. An inspiring listen and a new reason to reassess a classic Kiwi act.

    Jake Ebdale - Waikato Times

    Review: Acoustic Church Tour (2012)

    Auckland’s Holy Trinity proved the perfect environment for the harmonious voices of Anika, Boh and Hollie – but it was a bit quieter than what the singers are used to.

    “In bar tours everyone talks over us. In the church tour no-one talks at all. Please say something!” Boh Runga cried moments into the 90-minute set.

    The 700-strong audience wolf whistled and cheered but soon fell back into the hush of an awe-inspired congregation.

    The trio’s emotionally charged, haunting melodies soared over the strum of acoustic guitars right from the opening number, Anika Moa’s Running Through the Fire.

    “Thank God that’s over,” she quipped afterwards, relaxing the crowd and her band.

    “I hate wearing heels,” Moa continued. “I didn’t wear them the first night and it was like this,” she demonstrated, squatting. “Hey, hey guys.”

    If Moa, on acoustic, is the group joker then Runga, on electric and bass guitar, is the ring leader.

    The former frontwoman for pop/rock band Stellar took centre stage, energy pulsing through her voice, a no-nonsense attitude in her speech.

    The antics of the group’s youngest member, soul singer Hollie Smith, on bass, guitar and keys, made her the perfect goofy little sister.

    “Was I born then?” she joked when Runga introduced a song from her Stellar days.

    The girls’ first released combined single Be Mine was a highlight, the high-energy pop tune sent soaring.

    Runga’s voice is perfect in powering out the catchy melodies of the trio’s songs. Moa’s sweet, soft soprano harmonies blend well and are rounded out with Smith’s husky rich vocals. A sign of good things to come.

    Yet to be released Like I Love You was a pretty example, charming the audience yet again into silence.

    Accomplished drummer Tom Broome and keyboardist Godfrey de Grut added to the mix in the show’s second half.

    Smith, Moa and Runga are talents in their own right with 16 Tui Music Awards between them, but Wellington based 30-year-old Smith stole the show.

    “I’m really nervous, she said before launching into a new song. “This is one we wrote together, we all did ‘dibs, I’m not singing this one’, but somehow I lost. It’s quite difficult.”

    Her thick, sultry voice filled the cathedral and nerves or not, her notes sounded beautifully effortless.

    Her rendition of I Will Do while seated at the keyboard, and encore number Bathe in the River which she dedicated to her newborn niece, were spine chillingly brilliant, with the latter receiving a standing ovation.

    As with any group of talented, independent women, antics there were a plenty – from an impromptu version of The Bangles’ Eternal Flame, to a ‘tongue in cheek’ group creation called Alone.

    Gypsy, Sissy and Rehab they called themselves – “we wanted to have a really cool name like Kings of Leon”. But indecision means that, for now, the girls will remain Anika, Boh and Hollie.

    Michelle Robinson - Stuff.co.nz

    Runga wins hearts of fans - (2011)

    It was as though an angel had descended on Knox Church last night, to stand beneath an 8m stained glass window, framed by altar candles.

    More than 400 people filled the 135-year-old bluestone church to hear Auckland singer-songwriter Bic Runga perform in the fourth annual “Acoustic Church Tour”.

    Runga played a short acoustic set, before picking up her electric guitar and launching into her 1996 hit Drive.

    The chanteuse pleased fans both old and new as she mined her three platinum-selling albums – Drive (1997),Beautiful Collision (2002) and Birds (2005) – in the hour and 40-minute concert.

    Old favourites, including Get Some SleepSwaySomething GoodWinning ArrowBelle and Drive, intermingled with material from her latest album released last month, Belle, such as her first single in five years, Hello, Hello.

    The 35-year-old was in stunning voice on her first major solo tour for three years.

    She told the crowd she “loved the ambience of churches”.

    Runga was supported by Natalia Mann and her band, Kody Nielsen and Michael Logie, of The Mint Chicks.

    Runga performs in the “2011 Acoustic Church Tour” at Knox Church again tonight.

    Nigel Benson - Otago Daily Times

    Dobbyn delivers slice of heaven for Dunedin fans (2010)

    Dave Dobbyn and the Dukes rocked Knox Church in Dunedin last night during his Acoustic Church Tour.

    He was preaching to the converted, but the celebrated New Zealand singer-songwriter still produced a spirited show for a capacity 700-strong crowd.

    Dobbyn (53) was both raconteur and troubadour, taking the crowd on a tour through his three-decade music catalogue.

    He said he first played Be Mine Tonight at the former Shoreline Hotel in 1979 and then produced the loudest cheer of the night when he told the crowd Dunedin was the first city to sell out on the tour.

    Nigel Benson - Otago Daily Times

    Musos back and better than ever (2009)

    REVIEW: The Church Tour 09, Greg Johnson and Boh Runga, Nathan King, Lydia Cole, All Saints Church, Palmerston North. 

    All Saints Church really is as beautiful as it looks on the outside – but last night’s musicians would have blown any nativity scene out of the water.

    Kiwi music stalwarts Boh Runga and Greg Johnson were joined by ex-Zed frontman Nathan King and younger songstress Lydia Cole for this gig, one of nine they are playing in churches around the country.

    The idea harks back to 2003, after Runga played at London’s Union Chapel and realised the acoustics of churches were perfect for musicians.

    In 2004, her sister Bic toured New Zealand, with Boh and Johnson following suit this time. Both performers are based in Los Angeles, but the brief sojourn to New Zealand for this series of concerts was most certainly worth it. The pair have been working on an acoustic set especially for this tour, and the result was an eclectic selection of songs spanning both their careers.

    Resplendent in a mini-tutu, skinny jeans and high, high stilettos, Runga was all long shiny hair and attitude as she belted out rock songs from her former band Stellar* , earnest as she sang lyrics from her new solo album, and sweet as she accompanied Johnson on his offerings.

    She swapped from guitar to mandolin to percussion, including a set of gold, glittery drums, with practised ease.

    In the high eaves of the church, every note in her voice rang clear.

    Johnson was a strong presence, opening the first song with traditional organ chords and displaying his flawless musicianship on the keyboard, guitar and vocals.

    In the downtime he was funny, buoying the audience along with snippets of his new Los Angeles life, witty observations and general banter that was at times wildly inappropriate for a church, really. The pair were accompanied during their set by established guitarists and vocalists Dave Goodison and Ben King, who rounded out their professional sound.

    Earlier, a soulful Nathan King kept the night’s congregation captivated with his harmonious guitar set.

    The crowd were a mixed bunch, with middle-aged groups of women dispersed among hand-holding couples and a few younger fans.

    And, judging by the number who were jostling out of their pews to get CDs signed at the end of the gig, they left happy.

    Michelle Duff - Manawatu Standard

  • News

    PRIME TV AND CIVIC EVENTS PRESENT: 

THE CHURCH TOUR 2015


    THE CHURCH TOUR 2015
    Delaney Davidson, Tami Neilson, Barry Saunders & Marlon Williams:
    THE LOST HIGHWAY

    7 magnificent churches and cathedrals across New Zealand.

    The Church Tour 2015 presents one of its most tantalizing artist line-ups in its already storied seven year history, with four of New Zealand’s most lauded, singular and extraordinary musical talents combining: Delaney Davidson, Tami Neilson, Barry Saunders and Marlon Williams: The Lost Highway.

    Country, Alt-Country, Spaghetti Noir, Country Rock, Rockabilly, Western folk, Americana, Honky Tonk…..The Church Tour 2015 will showcase the styles and genres that scatter loosely under the flag of Country Music, converging at a place where yarns, myths, tales, legends and fables come to life through exceptional songwriting delivered via the incomparable voices of four artists-in-arms.

    Delaney Davidson is a singer, songwriter, producer and travelling minstrel – ten years on the road, of no fixed abode. He’s inspired by icons from Hank Williams and Howlin’ Wolf down through Johnny Cash and back up to Buster Keaton. He is a three-time winner of the APRA New Zealand Country Music Song of the Year, has a Country Album of the Year Tui Award, has produced albums for tour mate Tami Neilson and had his Swim Down Low album trumpeted by the UK Independent as “a rattling, twanging celebration” (5 stars).

    Tami Neilson has a soulful voice straight from the golden age of country and rockabilly music. A winner of multiple Country Album of the Year Tuis and a prestigious APRA Silver Scroll for Song of the Year (2014) amongst many other career highlights, Tami has been described as a “red-hot honky-tonker, somewhere between Patsy Cline and Wanda Jackson with perhaps just a little bit of Peggy Lee sophistication.” (Nick Bollinger, NZ National Radio). Her last album Dynamite received a 5/5 star review in the NZ Herald, which praised “This world-class album is a major statement from an artist at the top of her lyrical and vocal game”.

    Barry Saunders adventured far and wide as a young gigging musician, playing in bands in New Zealand, Australia and the UK. When Barry pitched back up in Wellington some misty years ago, living on a diet of Hank Williams, Hank Snow, Jimmy Rogers, early Elvis and Chuck Berry, he formed The Warratahs and gave us songs that have become part of the national lexicon – from ‘Maureen’ and ‘Hands of My Heart’ to the ‘Interislander Song’ and ‘Rescue Me’. The Warratahs continue to roam (having just released a brilliant new album Runaway Days), alongside and in tandem with Barry’s solo work, which has included the glorious Magnetic South (winner of the Country Album of the Year Tui) and Red Morning. Barry Saunders is an icon.

    Marlon Williams has been described as the impossible love child of Elvis, Roy Orbison and Townes van Zandt. At the age of 17 he exploded onto the NZ music scene, fronting  acclaimed alt-country band The Unfaithful Ways, then gathered a Country Album of the Year Tui with his tour mate Delaney Davidson and has just released his phenomenal self-titled debut album. Music industry bible Billboard Magazine has already tipped: “Expect to see and hear a lot more from this man with the voice of an angel”.

    Renowned for curating inventive bills, twists and artist combinations on the Church Tour, Civic Events promoters Brent Eccles and Campbell Smith are thrilled with the line-up for the Tour in 2015. Eccles pronounces concert-goers are in for a real treat:

    “The bill for this year’s Church Tour is something very special, it has all the elements we think you need for a landmark tour – talent, camaraderie, passion and freshness, bound together by great songs and incredible voices in stunning venues. It is going to be epic.”

    Delaney Davidson is looking forward to the uniqueness of performing in some of New Zealand’s most spectacular churches, chapels and cathedrals:

    “I’m really looking forward to playing in these spaces. They are built with music in mind, so the sound should be phenomenal.”

    Tami Neilson cant wait to hit the road with her friends:

    “I consider these boys my musical brothers and look forward to hitting the road with them once again. I’m also honored to be representing the women of country music in this group of gorgeous guys. It’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it!”

    Barry Saunders is equally enthusiastic about the Church Tour:

    “Four songwriter/performers on the road, playing in the church environment, it doesn’t get any better!”

    Marlon Williams agrees:

    “Having cut my musical teeth singing in churches, I’m relishing the opportunity to perform in what are undoubtedly the most acoustically rewarding spaces in New Zealand.

    Alongside close friends, long time collaborators and, in short, some of my favourite Kiwi songwriters, this will be a rare treat for all involved.”

    The Church Tour shows will run in two halves. Each artist will perform a set on their own, two artists per half, each backed by a multi-instrumentalist “house band” made up of Dave Khan, Ben Woolley and Joe McCallum. However the magic of The Church Tour is always in the collaboration and audiences can expect the artists to jump in and out of each other’s sets throughout.

    Now in its seventh continuous year, The Church Tour in 2015 will play 8 shows in  7 different churches between the 1st and 10th of October.

    DATES:

    Thursday 1 October Napier St John’s Cathedral

    Friday 2 October Tauranga Holy Trinity Tauranga

    Saturday 3 October Auckland Holy Trinity Cathedral

    Monday 5 OctoberWellingtonOld St Paul’s

    Tuesday 6 October Wellington Old St Paul’s

    Thursday 8 October Christchurch St Michael & All Angels

    Friday 9 October Christchurch The Cardboard Cathedral

    Saturday 10 OctoberDunedinKnox Church

     

    Tickets on sale from Monday 6th July, 12pm via www.churchtour.co.nz & Ticketmaster.

    STUFF PREMIERE: How Tami Neilson ended up in New Zealand

    Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 2.13.08 pm

     

    Country singer Tami Neilson is joining long-time friends Marlon Williams, Delaney Davidson and Barry Saunders when they hit the roads and churches this October.

    Canadian born, Neilson has been in the business since she was a child, travelling across North America performing professionally in her family band, The Neilsons, since the age of twelve. Neilson shared stages with the likes of Johnny Cash, appeared regularly on North American television and radio and had two top 40 singles on the Canadian music charts with her family.

    Moving to New Zealand in 2007, Neilson embedded herself in the local country music scene. Over the past eight years she has become one of our favourite country artists, taking out New Zealand Music Awards for ‘Best Country Album,’ and ‘Best Female Country Artist,’ on several occasions.

    Tami Neilson sits down and shares with us her musical background from early beginnings, to making the move to New Zealand and meeting Delaney Davidson and Marlon Williams.

    Watch the Stuff video premiere above.

     

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