Harbour Light Theatre

Also known as: Harbour Light Cinema

Location: 24 London Street, Lyttelton

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Current Status: Demolished post-earthquake, currently a bare site with a memorial

Active as a live music venue: 1916 – 2010

Bar Manager: –

Bookings:

Website:

Capacity: 300 (circa 2010)

Fantastic old Theatre in the heart of Lyttelton’s London Street that stood for 83 years prior to the Earthquakes of 2011.

The Harbour Light Theatre was thought to have been designed by J.S. and M. J. Guthrie and purpose-built as a picture house and theatre for the Lyttelton Picture Company. It could seat 550 people in both stalls and circle. The front of the building was two storeys high, with a mezzanine floor, and two decorative brick towers topped with spherical domes on either side. The entry was framed by large Tuscan columns, with quoin stones on the corners of the building. The material of the building was mostly brick with a stucco finish on the facade painted white in the “California style”. The entrance featured an art nouveau style etching of a pattern above the verandah roof.

At first the theatre management had concentrated on screening of films three times during the week. Then in 1920 they decided to extend the back of the theatre building and erect a stage with up-to-date fittings and lighting effects. The first performance on the new stage in December 1920 was delivered by the first “big-town” company to appear in Lyttelton, and apparently lived up to all expectations.

–  Jae Renaut’s Lyttelton

Harbour Light Cinema circa 1980 from Jae Renaut’s Lyttelton

Over the course of it’s long history the building had been used as a theater, a cinema, a social gathering hot-spot, a nightclub and as a particularly special concert and performance venue.

Having the stage meant that the Harbour Light could be used for fund-raising and benefit concerts, public talks and other social occasions, not just to screen films. Attractions presented on the new stage included illusionists and hypnotists, even vaudeville from the “Jolly John Larkin Happy Folks Company”.

– Jae Renaut’s Lyttelton

From 1992 onward groups would utilize the large stage and ample setting for music performances, prior to the 2010/2011 Earthquakes which ravaged Lyttelton, I saw enchanting performances from Pine and The Renderers in this wonderful old theater – it was a sad day when it was finally pulled down.

History

  • 1917: 24 London street is opened as a movie cinema and theater
  • 1983: Peter Harris purchases the dilapidated venue, building a squash court in the rear of the venue.
  • 1988: New owner Tom Jones converts the building into a nightclub and performance theater, becoming a licensed entertainment venue by 1992.
  • 2010: Damaged and eventually demolished in the Canterbury Earthquakes

Contact Details

Links

Sheep Technique [01/07/2008]

My very last Sheep Technique (kiwi music show on student radio station RDU); with Paul, and with an aborted interview with Cindy (previously known as Sandra) from former Flying Nun single band 25c.

Bible Black – Hell of a Woman
The Renderers – Low to the Ground
The Clean – Point that Thing Somewhere Else
25c – The Witch
Front Lawn – A Man and a Woman
25c – Don’t deceive me
The Good Housewives – Concerto in D Minor
The Stones – See Red
Spacedust – Too Much Action
3Ds – Outer Space
Steffan Van Soest Hit-Machine – Woman By My Side (Mexican Man)
Ticket – Mr. Music
Shaft – The Downhill Racer
Scorched Earth Policy – Sunset on the Loading Zone
Scavengers – Mysterex
Toy Love – Bride of Frankenstein
Reduction Agents – Urban Yard
Blam Blam Blam – There is No Depression in New Zealand
Pop Art Toasters – What Am I Going to Do
Tomorrows Love – 7 and 7 Is
King Loser – 76 Comeback
Straitjacket Fits – Life in One Chord
Palace of Wisdom – Found and Lost
Wreck Small Speakers on Expensive Stereos – All of This
the Bats – Block of Wood
Snapper – Snapper and the Ocean
Bitch – Wildcat
Die! Die! Die! – Sideways Here We Come
The Androidss – Auckland Tonight
Lawrence Arabia – Half the Right Size

Victor Dimisich Band

Stephen Cogle, Alan Meek, Tony O’Grady, Peter Stapleton and (for the later period) Mary Heney – most of whom also formed Scorched Earth Policy with Brian Crook (em>The Renderers, Bible Black, Bathysphere) and eventually made their mark with the legendary Terminals. The Victor Dimisich Band’s recordings (an original Flying Nun EP and the extremely lo-fi live document Mekong Delta Blues – a cassette only Xpressway release) are highly collectable and very hard to find (despite being reissued with bonus tracks in 1997 on the Medication label), and show Cogle and Stapleton just developing their dark and morbid style (after spending time with Bill Direen‘s many bands).

Contemporaries to Christchurch’s Pin Group and the early rattlings of Bill Direen‘s Bilders, in fitting with the “Christchurch sound” at the time they favored something of a denser and darker than their southern Dunedin neighbours, expressed through a bleak vision and Velvet Underground inspired abandon.
Dan Vallor: Taken from Popwatch #9

Discography (picks in bold)

  • Native Waiter 7″ EP [1982 Flying Nun]
  • Victor Dimisich Band 12″ Ep[1983 Flying Nun Fnvd001]
  • The Mekong Delta Blues Cassette [1988 Xpressway Xway08]
  • Native Waiter 7″ EP [Reissue Crawlspace Space005] Rn
  • My Name Is K [Compilation Medication Med002]

See-Also

Xpressway

Xpressway was formed by Bruce Russell in 1985 to release his then-fledgling Christchurch band the Dead C, live archival recordings from This Kind Of Punishment and the debut solo material from Alastair Galbraith. Over the course of the next 23 (mostly cassette-only) releases, Xpressway, Russell and his comrades themselves formed an ever-growing niche-market of dark, brooding releases, mostly in lo-fidelity form, but full of character.

Xpressway was the label that set the careers of Stephen Cogle, Peter Stapleton and Brian Crook (between them being a major part of Victor Dimisich, Scorched Earth Policy, the Terminals and the Renderers), the Jefferies brothers and David Mitchell in motion, quite an achievement. Their brilliant compilations Xpressway Pile-Up and Making Losers Happy were re-released by overseas labels in the early 90s, hastening the influence of these inspiring 23 releases.

Russell ended the label once they had achieved global recognition, as he had always intended Xpressway to be a stepping-stone toward competent distribution, and they had achieved that by the early 1990s with American labels like Siltbreeze, Drunken Fish, and Kranky and European labels Turbulence, Ajax and Raffmond picking up a fair portion of the labels many talented musicians. Russell then launched Corpus Hermeticum – an outlet for even more challanging music (mostly by his own personal pool of musicians, but expanding into even overseas experimental and underground musicians).

Compilation Discography
Picks In Bold

  • Xpressway Pile Up [1988 XWAY5]
  • I Hate Pavel Tishy’s Guts [1989? promo issued in 2 versions XWAY6]
  • Xpressway Pile=up [reissue with extra tracks 1990]
  • Making Losers Happy [1991]
  • Whats That Noise? 7″ album [1992]
  • I Hear The Devil Calling Me 7″ album [distributed by drag city 1993]

Contact Details

Above Ground

Biography

One of Bill Direen‘s many groups from the early 1980’s, with a young Maryrose Crook (of the Renderers) on Bass, Stu Page (The Axemen) on Drums and Bill’s partner Carol on Keyboards.

Members

  • Bill Direen (Vocals/Guitar, 1983)
  • Stu Page (Drums/Vocals, 1983)
  • Carol Direen (Keyboards, 1983)
  • Maryrose Crook (Bass, 1983)

Discography

  • Gone Aiwa [1983 Prototype Publications Pp013]
  • Above Ground [1983 Independently Released]

Links

 

Brian Crook – Bible Black

2002, Arc Life, ARCLIFE019

As half of the writing force behind seminal Christchurch/Dunedin fuzz-country rockers The Renderers (with his wife Mary-Rose), Brian Crook [aka Bible Black] has been making dirty, downtrodden stories since the late 80’s.

In 1997 The Renderers released what is considered their archetypal (and best) album, the soaring ‘Dream of the Sea’, but its been slim-pickings since then with single releases and sporadic performances coming amidst line-up and label changes. This latest release is essentially a Brian Crook solo album, albeit with the occasional guest vocal from Mary-Rose – boiling The Renderers sound down to their most minimalist (and at times exceedingly effective).

The songs are generally dark and brooding. Crook lacks the climactic tendencies in his voice that Mary-Rose exudes so freely. But with songs like ‘Baby Doll’, crook’s voice paints strong character sketches – “You seem so agitated, and there’s liquor down your dress”, creating images of backwoods folk with chemical dependencies and tawdry relationships. He sounds so world-worn and forbidding, that his multi-layered guitar becomes the perfect backdrop to these songs.

Opener ‘Leaves upon the lawn’ sees Crook crooning gently over three guitar-lines and the faint drift of organ, very melancholy stuff. A rattly slide guitar forms the lead – quite a change from The Renderers theatrical sonic attack built upon walls of feedback. Slowly paced and careful, it’s the soundtrack for a dark and smoky room in the most tragic of movies.

Country slide guitar rears its head on ‘What were they thinking’, a campfire song in the Johnny Cash vein. Crook is a brilliant live guitarist, creating unorthodox shards of feedback, whilst still maintaining a southern-fried tone – but here things are brought down a few notches to glorious effect. Like his Dunedin compatriot Dave Mitchell (formerly of the 3D’s and now the man behind the brilliant Ghost Club project) his guitar playing is more about restraint than release. Though it seems calm and melodic, there is something down below ready to erupt at any moment, and it’s that tension that drives the songs.

The only possible problem with the album is that at times it feels like Crook is re-treading familiar territory, though the album is certainly charismatic and gritty in the inimitable crook style. Things make a rapid right turn with ‘hell of a woman’ though- a blast of guitar bursts out unexpectedly. A rising crescendo riff that invigorates the middle section of the album, it’s the kind of anarchistic moment you can generally expect from a Renderers performance.

It’s an inviting return from New Zealand’s own alt-country underground star, now back at home under the ever-popular (and for good reason) Arc Life label, after spending the last couple of albums with Philadelphia-based Siltbreeze records. Lastly, remember to keep an eye out for The Renderers fully-fledged return early next year – it promises to be a stunner.

Bible Black

Biography

Brian Crook spent 1997-2000 in Port Chalmers with his partner / Renderers band-mate Maryrose in a lovely house on the hills above Port Chalmers, creating a dark and brooding selection of songs in Crooks’ own home studio.

Though Bible Black would eventually be taken on the road as a full-band, the album is almost exclusively a solo recording, with only vocal and organ contributions from Maryrose and Terminals vocalist Stephen Cogle.

Members

  • Brian Crook (Guitar/Vocals/Drums, 1997 – 2002)
  • Maryrose Crook (Vocals/Organ, 1997 – 2002)
  • Stephen Cogle (Vocals, 1997 – 2002)

Discography

  • Bible Black (2002, Arc Life, ARCLIFE019)

Links

 

The Builders

Biography

The most recognized of Bill Direen’s many underground projects, The Builders recordings are as varied as they are numerous, and litter his discography (often with infuriating spelling variations –  The BildersBildirene, Die Bilder etc).

Check Direen’s Main Entry for more detail.

Members

  • Bill Direen (Guitar/Vocals, 1980 -)
  • Campbell McLay (Bass, 1982)
  • Malcolm Grant (Drums, 1982 – 1985)
  • Chris Knox (Vocals , 1982)
  • Mike Dooley (Drums, 1982)
  • Greg Bainbridge (Bass/Vocals/Percussion, 1985 – 1989)
  • Eddie Ohlson (Drums, 1985)
  • John McDermott (Drums, 1985 – 1989)
  • Stuart Page (Drums, 1985)
  • Tony Green (Drums, 1985)
  • Allen Meek (Guitar, 1985)
  • Karl Holdorf (Trombone/Vocals, 1985)
  • Chris Todd (Trumpet, 1985)
  • Jay Clarkson (Vocals, 1985)
  • John Christoffels (Bass, 1985)
  • Greg Bates (Drums, 1985)
  • Paul Logan (Guitar, 1985)
  • Paul Girl (Guitar, 1985)
  • Carol Direen (Vocals, 1985)
  • Maryrose Wilkinson (Vocals, 1985)
  • David Edmundson (Saxophone, 1989)
  • Tania Pekelharina (Vocals, 1989)
  • Rob Thorne (Guitar, 1994)
  • Steve Wolf (Saxophone, 1994)
  • Alastair Galbraith (Violin, 1994)
  • Victoria Singh (Vocals, 1994)
  • Stephen Kilroy (Piano, 1994)
  • Derek Champion (Drums, 1994)
  • Brett Cross (Bass, 2008 – 2010)
  • Andrew Maitai (Drums, 2008)
  • Andrew McCully (Keyboards, 2008)
  • Nikola Kapetanovic (Guitar/Loops, 2009 – 2010)
  • Richard Anderton (Percussion/Vocals, 2010)
  • Stu Porter (Drums, 2010)

Discography

  • Solomon’s Ball 7″ EP (1981, Self-Released)
  • High Thirties Piano 7″ EP (1982, Self-Released)
  • Schwimmin In Der See 7″ EP (1982 As Die Bilder, Flying Nun Records, FN006)
  • Beatin Hearts (1983, Flying Nun Records, JAN8)
  • Let’s Play (1985, South Indies, SINZ 11)
  • C0NCH3 (1985, South Indies, PRA2301)
  • Ginger Jar 7″ Single (1986, South Indies, SNGL001)
  • Cup 12″ Mini Album (1987, South Indies, SOIN5377)
  • Divina Comedia (1988 Compilation, South Indies, SOIN 477)
  • We Are The Coolest Cats in the World (1989, South Indies, SOIN BILT 5)
  • Alien 7″ Single (1991, Hecuba Records, HEX03)
  • Volume 1: Max Quitz (1993 Compilation, Flying Nun Records, FN274)
  • Cut (1994, IMD, IMDCD 10030)
  • Volume 2: Beatin Hearts (1993 Compilation, Flying Nun Records, FN275)
  • Volume 4: Pyx (1995 Compilation, Flying Nun Records, FN277)
  • Untitled 7″ Lathe (2012, OnceC Records, onec023)
  • The Utopians 7″ (2014, Smartguy Records, smart035)
  • Bilders Tour Europe (Live Tapes) (2017, Self-Released)

Links

Discogs Entry

 

Brown Velvet Couch

Biography

Essentially the group Trash with Paul Cahill, Bruce Blucher (Wreck Small Speakers on Expensive Stereos, Alpaca Brothers), Robbie Yeats (The Renderers, The Dead C, The Verlaines) performing under his Bo Martak alias, , but fronted by Viv Crowe (Fats Thompson).

Brown Velvet Couch released just a single 7″ on Roof Bolt, before Trash splintered and disappeared in the mid 90’s.

Members

  • Paul Cahill (Bass, 1994)
  • Robbie Yeats (Drums, 1994)
  • Bruce Blucher (Guitar, 1994)
  • Viv Crowe (Guitar/Vocals, 1994)

Discography

  • Once in a Very Blue Moon 7″ (1993, Roof Bolt, RB002)

Links

Brian Crook

brian crook has had a long and varied career in the new zealand underground scene. initially as a guitarist in seminal christchurch post-punk outfit scorched earth policy in the early to mid 1980s, then with the max block, and as a guitarist in the 2nd coming of the legendary terminals, along with various other appearance with many of peter stapleton‘s and kim pieters many improvisational outfits, though most know of crook (and his partner maryrose) for the band they formed together in late 1980s christchurch – the renderers.
the renderers found their voice (closest description would be something along the lines of gritty kiwi country with explosive noisy tendencies) in mid 1990s dunedin, and in between albums brian recorded the diverse and somewhat fractured solo debut bathysphere on stapleton/pieters excellent medication label. though the renderers reputation continued to rise outside of their home-country with the release of the critically acclaimed dream of the sea – they were still something of a cult act in new zealand, so crooks’ follow-up debut (released under the new bible black moniker) went unheard as an under-aknowledged jem.
discography
picks in bold

  • bathysphere [medication med003] rn