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It is almost 22 years since Massey Hall was ‘revived’. But has the venue – the last of the West Auckland rock and roll venues from the 1960s – been successfully rejuvenated? Sadly no, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be repositioned for the next level of music, pop and the arts. With Colin Munro, s. Courtney McLoughlin, vocalist for southern indie rockers The Tets – who played a couple of shows there a couple of years ago – aka the Tooks, joining forces with Massey Hall experts Barrick Gregan and Phil Batey of The Dandy Warhols to promote the reopening of Massey Hall, its future should be the focus of concert-goers’ attention when The Tets step in this weekend, Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th July. Earlier this week Neil Mitchell of the 3AW drive show in Melbourne described this as ‘Australia’s best concert happening in Melbourne’. It does feel like something very different has happened in the greater New Zealand cities, and we’re talking about Massey Hall, which – until its cancellation after two storms last year – was well known internationally as a central venue for music and concert goers. To step into Massey Hall is to take on a connection to the 1960s. The glass bandshell was just opened, and stands in a natural amphitheatre, formed by a series of lakes and waterfalls. The reverberations of the huge organ that dominates the stage were enough to shock a young Vera Lynn, who played there in 1962. Her eerie voice, coupled with the piercing blue lights, created a mesmerising experience. The organ was dismantled when the hall was reopened. And its regrown. (Though he also took to referring to it as ‘a well fed monster’ and making some apt comments, in short order, about how ‘female musicians’ can come in and ‘cut up’ the instrument.) Far from an ‘Okie’ kind of place, the hall opened a month after Woodstock, and first played host to hip-hop acts, a time when music was still tied to street theatre, prose, poetry and art, as seen at the launch of The Doors’ latest album. In these early days the hall drew just as many rock, pop and pop/jazz acts as traditional venues. Rock on, Massey! McLoughlin has certainly found music and art space on the hall’s west wing and bar/kitchen space, known as The Triumph Bar. While many of the spaces are equal in importance to the whole, it’s the rest of the stage area, with its fading grandeur, where concerts have been held through the years, such as the Band Of Horses and The Dirty Three with Paul Weller in 2015, and The Tets with Neneh Cherry on the site’s 17th anniversary in March this year. In music-wise the hall re-opened with Pet Shop Boys, who played a gig in 1988, and Guy Barker from NZ’s Powerhouse Symphony Orchestra played there in 1993. The song for the re-opening, which McLoughlin has included in his new single, is Radio Radio. Interestingly, there is also a song called Massey Hall in the Swinging Sixties in Tooker’s solo album Worry, as well as The Tensions, from the Swinging Sixties album. And there is one more song, Wolf, on the folky Kevin Chamberlain’s Ancheris, recorded with Rolling Stones guitarist Ron Wood’s band the Wailers last year. But these are only two examples of the scores of music being played at Massey Hall, and there are many others, it being one of only a few venues anywhere in the world where you can sing into a microphone, surrounded by four to seven alto saxophone players and 27-piece band of musicians. It still has so much to offer. Whether it can have any more to offer is another question.