Gig review: Dave Dobbyn & Don McGlashan, Edinburgh

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The crowd may have been thinner than the previous evening’s sold out Saturday night event, but there was no shortage of warmth or affection for far-from-home icons of the New Zealand alternative scene Dave Dobbyn and Don McGlashan on a wet Sunday night in Edinburgh.

Bongo Club

It also seemed to be something of an expat convention, with plenty of boisterous calls and comments from a minority of well-oiled voices, the majority of which were well-received; although non-Kiwis in the seated audience would have found themselves no wiser as to the pronunciation of Whangarei, as debated by natives on both sides of the mic.

Although they’re both in their mid-fifties now, both Dobbyn and McGlashan (who were joined by a bassist and drummer in a traditional four-piece band) retain a welcome vitality in both their music and their delivery of it. The former is most widely-known as a solo artist, and his style is that of an old-school rocker in the mould of his close vocal analogue Neil Young, while McGlashan’s career has seen his recent solo work following on from extensive soundtrack writing and multiple bands including hit 1990s NZ group the Mutton Birds.

At various points a euphonium, xylophone, ukulele and guitar all found their way into McGlashan’s hands, and his signature tunes, including the capitalism mocking Toy Factory Fire and the letter to his 17-year-old daughter Girl, Make Your Own Mind Up, enjoyed a certain kind of Beatlesy swirl. Dobbyn, meanwhile, writes emotive protest songs like Whaling and Maybe the Rain, and downhome anthems including Loyal and Welcome Home, setting off a gig rich in wit and passion.