Intimate. Moving. Live...
We all love a good live gig right? The trouble is, gigs don’t seem to love us more maturing crowd as we lurch from early into our mid-twenties and beyond. Along with worse hangovers, avoiding trends and not knowing who is on the top 40 anymore, I've lost my ability to 'gig well' and not care the next day when I wake up with a razor throat and splitting head.
As a Welly teenager and early-twenty-something, going to see bands was part of my life routine (how I paid for it as a student I have no idea…but thats besides the point…). I loved music in any form, especially seeing it LIVE! From grunge hard-core at Zeal to graduating to San Fransisco Bathhouse and finally the whole spectrum from Bodgea, to Betty’s, to the TSB Bank Arena, I’ve truly indulged the music scene in this city. Having turned 27 yesterday I’ve got to admit - I’ve got less energy to put up with loud sound systems, slimy bathrooms and getting smushed into a crowd. It seemed like I would never gig again. To be honest, I’d sort of resigned myself to #netflix4lyf.
A recent discovery however at an unexpected Wellington location has given me hope however that there might be a place where you can enjoy shows with slightly more mature surroundings. So mature in fact that they've been around since the 19th century.
Legendary soul singer Hollie Smith’s recent show at The Thistle Inn, Wellington was the best gig I've seen in a long time - hands down. Anyone else who was there will surely agree. It was not only a wonderful show from Hollie - who was incredible, crooning through her beautiful songlist - but a very enjoyable experience as a whole, mainly down to being in a relaxed venue I felt I could feel at home in rather than worrying about getting my bag stolen the whole time. Who would have thought of the Thistle Inn?? Not only is it down the government end of town, but actually the oldest standing pub in New Zealand. From now on, I want to see all my live music here.
Hollie has been touring her latest album ‘Water or Gold’. So we got tickets to see her perform which was a major coup seeing as her show was completely sold out here in Wellington. The show was on a Sunday evening which gave us something to look forward to in the week (although we had to watch the vino! Don’t want to get too crazy on a Sunday, eh folks?).
We (Matt my boyfriend and I) arrived around 6pm and started by ordering our dinner of tender veal on kumura mash with lashings of jus. Everything about our meal was spot on, from the extremely tender veal dusted in micro-greens to the incredible cheesecake/panna cotta in a glass-style desert. We nibbled and guzzled and got into a very vigorous chat that I can’t remember what it was about but both Matt and I were FEVERISHLY insisting we were right and the other was wrong - but really we agreed (anyone else have these tiffs?). ANYWAY, our waitress who I think was called Anna was really lovely and kept us well watered as we ploughed through our food.
By the time we had finished eating, the space that is usually the bar was starting to fill up quite a lot. We nabbed a place near the front and watched the incredible opening act, one of the singers from the group ‘Chocolate Box’. Matt kept turning to me and being like “She’s the best singer I’ve ever heard!’
Finally it was time for Hollie to arrive on stage to perform her ‘acoustic’ set. As would be expected, her performance was a true class Act. Hollie’s soul lifted the roof. If Matt had thought he had heard it all, we were both totally blown away by Hollie’s powerful voice. I was particularly thrilled when she sang her most famous track, “Bathe in the River” from the movie ‘No 2’. So beautiful to hear it LIVE!
It was so nice to be at a gig where we really embraced the music. I mean REALLY enjoyed it. Like us, everyone at the Thistle Inn seemed content and happy to be there. It was a chilled vibe with lots of clapping and whoops at the end of each track. Plus - let’s be honest - the wine and beer on tap was delicious. I would completely do this again - it just just a short Uber ride from our place to Thorndon and perfect if you catch a train because its near the station. What’s more, the music sounded incredible. The acoustics in the Thistle Inn were amazing, likely because of the old wooden building. Like us, she may be old - but she’s still got it.
Next time you see a gig at the Thistle, make it a priority because it really is a little secret gem of this city.
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