Christmas in the Park

Summertime, so it’s Christmas. Still weird.

Last night we went to the Christmas in the Park celebration, vociferously sponsored by Coke, thank you Coke. Drink Coke. Coke is it. Really. It.

The festivities took place in the Auckland Domain, right down the street from us, so getting there was easy. It was mostly a concert, but we heard there would be fireworks, and that was the main attraction for us. We sat far enough away that we could kinda see the performers on the jumbo screen, but not at all in real life. Just right to see fireworks and avoid the mêlée.

We missed the first half of the show, which was Christmas music, and I suspect was the best part. The second part was a rotating cast of singers doing mostly covers of hits from the last 40 years or so. These are mostly people who might make it to the Round of 16 on a show like The Voice, but who wouldn’t win. They were good singers and performed with gusto, but not people you’d necessarily pay much to see. At least you wouldn’t pay to see them do this show. Thank you Coke for making this event gratis.

The emcee was bad, unknown to us but probably a morning DJ by the sound of him. He did little beyond introducing each song and saying something like “wow, that was something” after. Makes me appreciate how hard is the job, or at least how rare is the talent, of a Dick Clark or a Ryan Secrest.

The singers were quite a mix… pop and blues and a Polynesian doowop group and more. Perhaps the most surreal moment was a young guy named Tommy Nee (‘NZ’s freshest talent’ according to his web site) covering the Paul Simon song Call Me Al. I wouldn’t claim to understand everything in that song, but for me it’s always been about getting old, living with disappointment, etc., and then soldiering on. With lots and lots of words, very carefully put together. A cerebral song, with irony. With Chevy Chase in the video.

Young Tommy played it as if he were the lone survivor of a One Direction salmonella outbreak. He jumped and skipped and sprinted around the stage, clapping his hands over his head, exhorting the crowd, reaching down to brush fingers with the girls in the front row. He may have said ‘soft in the middle’ and ‘roly-poly little bat-faced girl’ but he surely did not understand.

But then the fireworks came, and it was summer after all and it was almost Christmas and we didn’t have to drive home in traffic and all was once again right with the world.

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