In spring 2017, an excited email by Ian Jorgensen, aka Blink, now Massey University lecturer, but probably best known in music for having run of Camp A Low Hum for a decade, announced that he was to organise and tour manage a series of gigs for Neil Finn, friends and family, across community halls of small-town New Zealand.
The tour came and went, as they do, followed by another email, announcing there would be a small run of books of photos documenting the tour. Jorgensen, as a photographer, has been documenting his own events, as well as tours he participated in over the years and a variety of other local and international shows, and published a number of photo books a few years back under the title A Movement. The idea that he would photographically record this tour as well didn’t seem too unlikely.
Captured beautifully on grainy 35mm film, the majority of the 300 pages of photos are black and white, with some colour sprinkled in for good measure. We’re allowed to join the joy of a summer tour on what seems more like a road trip vacation (with an added bonus of concerts) across both islands.
Expectations aside, it’s not as simple as saying that this coffee table book is a collection of photos of one of NZ’s most loved and celebrated musicians and his family. There’s something much more universal about it that people who aren’t a fan of any of the participating musicians will be able to enjoy. Ever present is the star of the book: New Zealand, its skies and trees, the light in humble small-town venues, beaches, rolling hills, ponds, porches and paddocks, and its communities being drawn together by music we all know so well.
Punters young and old don’t seem to care too much about the general calibre of the band, and they don’t seem to be the usual hardcore fans you encounter at gigs that have a Finn’s name on the poster, either, which must have been a refreshing aspect of this tour. There used to be an ongoing (semi-) joke online that would see predominantly female fans ask for a “hair and pants” report of shows – a hilarious thought to keep in mind as you browse this book. This ain’t about fashion and no one here seems to be negatively conscious of the camera. As a reader, we are the camera, we are part of the crew; and we do get to see a lot of chest hair if this is a thing that matters.
Where’s My Room is a wonderful insight into the joys of touring life, seeing the crew laughing, eating, sleeping, tuning, swimming, playing, befriending the occasional chicken (or not – poor Phil), gawky tourist shots with a Moeraki boulder, and generally the sort of stuff you do in your free time on tour. A takeaway: There are as many ways of chilling out between tasks at hand as there are sheep on hills in NZ.
Also covered are the mundane tasks; packing in and out of venues, child care, as well as some ‘warts and all’ – the yawning, tired faces, goofy moments, double chins, signs of ageing, bellies of all shapes and some unfortunately-timed aching teeth.
Some of the stand out pictures show real tenderness between humans. One in which Connan Mockasin holds the head of his resting partner in the touring van, and several that include interaction with young Buddy Finn. Artists, crew and punters are vulnerable and comfortable around each other, and while some of the photos have captions explaining who and what we’re seeing, the biggest talker in the book is body language.
To finish with some name dropping, musical highlights of the book are Alien Weaponry and Neil Finn getting a lesson in whistling from Molly Lewis after the show in Waipu; one of the show in Milton where The Chills’ Martin Phillipps joined the band for a cover of Pink Frost; and Tim Finn jumping on stage in Piha for a few classic Split Enz songs.
As a music fan who loves live photographs Jorgensen’s book certainly doesn’t disappoint, but where it truly shines is in providing a candid inside look into a touring party that have genuine affection for each other.