I sighed all evening


Perhaps I’ve spent too long on the same project, too many hours in my own head, had too many weeks of routine. I didn’t know how susceptible I was.

Last night at the Dudley Benson concert I almost drowned. Inundated by wonder.

After the opening performance by Cat Ruka with a metronome, a chair, heavy black ropes about her neck and the presence of a goddess, Dudley introduced the Dawn Chorus: four achingly beautiful, clear-eyed young men mixing golden, grainy harmonies like a dunking in Demarara sugar. For the repertoire of Dudley’s own songs and Hirini Melbourne’s bird and insect waiata, beat box champion Hopey One joined them with her mesmerising array of percussive oral sound effects. Then Dudley and his sister Jessica sang a duet. Don’t you sometimes find that beauty threatens to undo you?

We clapped and cheered and stamped for more — and they gave it to us, including  a heart-wringing tribute to the 29 men lying in the mountain at Pike River. Perhaps that’s another reason for the loveliness: our sensory membranes are worn thin just now by collective sorrow.

All this took place before a huge canvas backdrop painted by Nigel Brown, of a sombre and splendid river valley probably not unlike the one where the nation’s thoughts have been brought to bear.

Dudley’s moving to Dunedin. Lucky us. See him if you possibly can.


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