On the floor: Playing hooks

Lawrence Arabia (James Milne) brings his cricket-themed tour to Dunedin tonight. Photo supplied.
Lawrence Arabia (James Milne) brings his cricket-themed tour to Dunedin tonight. Photo supplied.
Many musicians have sporting hobbies as a sideline. Many's the time a few years back when some of the Flying Nun-style crowd would be barracking for Otago at Carisbrook.

Lawrence Arabia (James Milne) is another with a penchant for ball sports, although he's a fan of having bat in hand and giving a small ball a good walloping.

All this is by way of an explanation for the title of his current endeavour: "The Greats of New Zealand Cricket Tour", which arrives in Port Chalmers tonight.

Arabia has recently released his Chant Darling album in Europe and the UK, which has garnered a few glowing reviews, with the Times of London calling it, "classy, intelligent pop-rock ... lyrically it's fabulous", while middle-aged men's music and movies magazine Uncut said: "the sublime harmonies mark Milne out as a master pop classicist".

Not wanting to rest on his laurels - such as winning the APRA Silver Scroll and the Taite Music Prize - Lawrence Arabia has begun recording a new album.

He says the tour features songs from these sessions, as well as some older material.

"There will be harmonies, gentleness and noise, and token references to the theme of the tour."

These include his cricketing idols.

Arabia himself is fresh from scoring a century of his own, playing more than 100 live shows this year.

He's proud to have a sometimes sidelined sporting passion.

"These men of the moment, clad all in white, except for the legendary black cap, strode on to the playing arenas of the time in a hallowed hush. Girls and boys abandoned their childish play and doffed their Cancer Society-approved legionnaires' caps in respect of their idols, demi-gods of bat and ball - Patel, De Groen, Vance, Ervin McSweeney," he says.

While the tour is being described as nationwide, it is only covering the main centres: it began in Auckland on Wednesday and wraps up in Dunedin tonight at Chick's Hotel.


Catch him
Lawrence Arabia and his band, the Prime Ministers, play Chick's Hotel, Port Chalmers, tonight. Doors open 8.30pm.

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