Lawrence of Arabia was a 1962 film filled with stunning action sequences, non stop excitement, a handsome charismatic lead and played for a 'I can't believe that was really 3 and a half hours' running time. An Evening Alone With Lawrence Arabia was a 2017 concert held at the Incubator in Tauranga's Historic Village featuring repetitive song structures, annoyingly self indulgent lyrics, an impish man boy frontman and played for a 'Wow, that was 1 and half hours of my life that I will never get back' running time.
Before I rip up a Lawrence Arabia $20 tea towel in order for me to rag on this show I will say a few benign things. The Incubator is always a lovely venue, it looks and sounds amazing. The people who run it do a brilliant job and are incredibly friendly even if I suspect they are only doing so to butter us up in order to attain our email addresses for their monthly e-newsletter contact list. Credit where due Mr Arabia is a talented guy. His voice is very clear and tuneful, he plays his instruments with much dexterity and his songs are well crafted. Problem is that he has only crafted material enough for one song which he then repeats with slight variations for an interminable time bending sets worth.
I knew little of Lozza's work prior to attending this event. Critics like him, he may have at one point been on Flying Nun, looks quite like a hipster doofus in press photos - knowing little else I went in with a clear head and a strangely optimistic open mind. Let that be your first lesson, always expect the worst. Reward comes to those that hate.
If it were a 15-20 minute concert the extent of the ruse would have never been revealed. Yes kept to a manageable length his pop songs would have seemed quirky, endearing even. His almost aloof somewhat shy banter coming off charming in smaller doses. Witty even. Fast forward to the 25minute mark and all is revealed.
What we are looking at here isn't an off centre George Harrison, but the decaying corpse of originality. Listening to his songs one can be easily confused. He picks the right chord 'The Beatles chord' but then unlike Uncy George, Paul and John fails to use the 2nd, 3rd and or 4th chord to turn it in to a progression that actually holds your interest. It is the musical equivalent of getting your head licked at the expense of a throbbing shaft. Milk me damnit!
Sure it's impressive that he can play many different instruments, looping them when need be to flesh out a lacking sound but what's wrong with sharing the limelight just a little bit? Even Peter O'Toole shared the screen with Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn and Omar Shariff.
Truly, I can't believe I fell for his boyish, never had a day job or any stress that isn't moustache grooming related good looks and nervous, semi engaged crowd banter. It was all lies. He wasn't leveling with us at all as equals or a friend. We were manipulatively being stripped of our identities in order to drink the Lawrie cool aid.
"This next song is called 'Me' it's about me and how I like to be me and why you should also like me because I'm a down to earth, real guy just like you..... me..... me................ME!"
Chortle chortle. Clap clap....
By song 5 I began to wonder if he had ran out of material and had restarted the set without anyone noticing. By song 6 I was catatonic, by song 7 I was wondering if I could blink in morse code to get someone to help break me from my catatonia, by song 8 I was sure that it was definitely song 3 again and it was actually just a Liam Finn song. By song 9 I started to like it again. By song 10 I noticed how inviting the wooden rafters looked. By song 11 I started to look for rope...
Was I alone in this way of thinking? Possibly... all the sterile looking men in plaid and wide rimmed black glassed seemed to be thoroughly enjoying themselves.
Side note: If you are in a crowd and a musician tells you to sing along and or clap in order to enhance a song then firstly do not do it. Secondly, look around take note of who has followed these directives then remember that during Nazi Germany these are the same types of people who would have blindly gassed a few million Jews because a semi articulate, allegedly charismatic 'leader' told them to do so.
By song 12 the rope snaps....
I have always loved the song Femme Fatale. Tonight was the night the love died.
Things I could have spent my $20 on: pokies, new pair of chinos, George Harrison cd, Lawrence of Arabia on Bluray, 1x bottle of meths/2x glasses/1x paper bag, gas to flee in the other direction, partial payment for some of the fantastic Antony Warnes art hanging on the walls of the Incubator, lip elecrolysis so I can never grow a moustache, a Liam Finn concert ticket, some pills to make me less dead inside.
"Lawrence Arabias body was found. But neither our gang nor their gang got the credit. In the end we decided that an anonymous phone-call was the best thing to do. We headed home. And although many thoughts raced through our minds we barely spoke. We walked through the night and made it back to Tauranga a little past five o'clock on Friday morning, the day before Saturday. We'd only been gone two days. But somehow the town seemed different. Smaller.
As time went on we saw less and less of Teddy and Vern until eventually they became just two more faces in the halls. That happens sometimes. Friends come in and out of your life like busboys in a restaurant. I heard that Vern got married out of High-school, had four kids and is now the forklift operator at the Port. Teddy tried several times to get into the Army but his eyes and his ear kept him out. The last I heard, he'd spent some time in jail. He was now doing odd jobs around Otumoetai.
Chris did get out. He enrolled in the College-courses with me. And although it was hard he gutted it out like he always did. He went on to College and eventually became a lawyer. Last week he entered a fast food restaurant. Just ahead of him, two men got into an argument. One of them pulled a knife. Chris who would always make the best peace tried to break it up. He was stabbed in the throat. He died almost instantly. Although I haven't seen him in more than ten years I know I'll miss him forever. I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anybody?"