Shockingly, in the 4-plus years we’ve lived in Wellington, we’ve never been to Ortega Fish Shack. We decided to put this right as a prelude to our evening’s entertainment. I’m told that they do a killer steak, but given that it’s a fish restaurant, we both decided to stick with the fish. We can get steak at The Larder or other places anytime. I had scallops with pork belly to start, followed by a gurnard fillet on papardelle. Nicola had the sake-cured salmon and the terakihi. All very well prepared and presented, and I think we’ll be back (when we can fit it in around all our other commitments).
Then a quick stroll up Courtenay Place to the Opera House, in time to catch support act Bic Runga. Bic is world famous in New Zealand, but has been away from the recording scene for a while. She played guitar, and half-way through her set she employed an assistant on the piano, who looked suspiciously like Neil Finn – largely because it was.
After running through her half-dozen songs, she was off and it was time for the main act. Neil Finn has a new album out this year, his first solo effort for 13 years (he’s been recording with Crowded House, collaborations and other projects in between, and also touring with Crowded House and other bands). We were prepared – I’d bought the album a couple of months ago, so we were familiar with all the new tunes. He managed to squeeze most of the album in, between playing hits and favourites from his extremely rich back catalogue, including Split Enz, Crowded House, Finn Brothers and earlier solo career. After a good long set, they left the stage.
But the crowd wanted more, as they always do, and so the band came back on to play an encore. I’ve heard encores before. Usually the band comes out and plays one or two songs, maybe comes out a second time and plays two more.
They played six. Opening with Split Enz classic “I Got You”, then more from the back catalogue.
Off they went again, and the crowd, somewhat optimistically I thought, still clapped, stamped and cheered for more. But the house lights stayed down, and Neil came out and sat down at the piano, gave us a song solo, then picked up his guitar and gave us three more on his own. Then the rest of the band wandered on, took up their positions, and gave us another three songs, finishing on “Better Be Home Soon”. Eventually, at around twenty to twelve, we rolled out onto the street in search of a cab home.