James Cabaret

review - James Cabaret: sold out gigs & a new era of events... by JoFF Rae

The James Cabaret reopened it's doors 30th March 2013 - closing the doors on 31st March 2015 after exactly 2 years of the best gigs Wellington has experienced in some time...

An experiment in an event & venue model the venture demonstrated that Wellington City was capable of sustaining a venue - in fact needs a venue of the calibre & size.  The New Zealand Festival of the arts made the James Cabaret its home for the contemporary music program & several prominent promoters based tours of international acts around the ease & quality of production provided.  The venue quickly became renown for it's high level of production values (international standard & the largest house system in New Zealand) & sold out shows!  Nominated Venue of the Year the James Cabaret ended on an high note!

So why close the doors?  Our source tells us it was 3 issues:

  1. THE LANDLORDS... a committee with the reputation of being difficult to work with (a statement from a past tenant was "they're a pack of arseholes") having driven the doors closed on every other proprietor over the years.  The lease holder from the 90's when the James Cabaret earned it's reputation as a concert venue is not surprised that the Landlord was "impossible to work with - again".
  2. LICENSE ISSUES - sound & crowd issues from disgruntled neighbours with some complaints from a new neighbour (they provided photographs of rubbish including cans of beer - a brand not sold at the James Cabaret).  Sound was an ongoing issue.  "The issues are like mice... " our source says, "when you have one there's going to be more."
  3. END ON A HIGH NOTE!  The source says "we didn't want to end on a low or be forced out by the Council so we took an option provided by the Landlords with their unreasonable demands & walked" he says with no malice, "we felt better about leaving the building with a reputation of producing the best concert events in Wellington!"

The features of the 2 years?

  1. Neneh Cherry.  An icon & the best lady!  Amazing yet simple performance & show (especially the request for no front light until the very end leaving dramatic silhouettes through the performance).
  2. NAS.  EPIC event by Robin Fernando - an amazing effort!  HUGE!
  3. New Zealand Festival Of The Arts.  Best performance from Charles Bradley & Brel: The Words & Music of Jacques Brel featuring Jon Toogood - great to have him in the home of Shihad.
  4. School Boy Q... & the encore!  So huge they had to come back & another epic event from Robin Fernando!
  5. Sticky Fingers.  What an awesome show!  Wellington will wait a while to top this one that was held at 10 days notice & sold out!  Thanks to Rhythm Group!
  6. Run The Jewels, Danny Brown & Earl Sweatshirt.  Probably the closest we will get to Odd Future - let's hope Robin Fernando work that one out!
  7. Aloe Blacc - all style & a great band!
  8. 6 local/domestic acts feature: Brownhill - "resident band"; Devilskin - awesome band & a great bunch to host; Tunes Of I - on their way up & best support; Shapeshifter & Upbeats - a great duo; Phoenix Foundation at their best are the best local; Katchafire - every time!
  9. The better promoters - Robin Fernando, Rhythm Group, 40 Days, Plus1, Mystery Girl & the others who kept bringing great acts; Brotha D for taking the  first risk & bringing the first act to the reopening.
  10. THE AUDIENCE!  The promoters & the venue pay big respect to the people who came to the shows!

& What now?

Watch this space - more to follow...