Hawke’s Bay music fans are about to receive a heavy dose of nostalgia. 

It’s been twenty years since Bic Runga released Beautiful Collision, her second solo studio album and, by the artist’s own admission, her favourite. Back in 2002 it entered the New Zealand charts at number one, was recognised internationally, and went eleven times platinum. Tracks such as Get Some SleepSomething Good and Listening for the Weather got mass airplay, providing the soundtrack to many a youthful escapade, conjuring rose tinted memories of simpler times.

With this in mind, Runga is celebrating her success with a tour of Aotearoa and Australia, kicking off at Toitoi on July 15. For Runga, who also toured to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of her debut album, Drive, “if the music still resonates after that long then it’s meaningful. A lot of things are cyclical. People enjoy listening to music that was close to them early on.”

It’s certainly proving popular, with less than two hundred tickets left at the over nine hundred seater venue, fans are eager to spend an evening of reminiscence, to lose themselves in the beautiful music of their youth. Runga will not only play the album in its entirety from start to finish, but will throw in a few favourites from other records and maybe even some new tracks if time and the mood allows her.

Support comes from Georgia Lines, an emerging New Zealand artist with similar soulful dream pop vibes too, and shared management with Runga. Local live music enthusiasts might remember Lines from her set at Black Barn in January 2022 in support of Dave Dobbyn, an artist for which Runga has previously opened and considers as a mentor and hero. 

Bic Runga is no stranger to the Toitoi stage, having closed out the 2020 Hawke’s Bay Arts Festival with a show celebrating her Kahungunu/Rongomaiwaihine heritage. She’s got a whanau connection to this region – her father hails from, and is buried in Māhia. Though the pace of her touring schedule won’t allow her the time to brave the perilous coast road this visit, it’s a place she remembers fondly. She workshopped there with champion of te reo, Sir Tīmoti Kāretu, to translate her big hit, Sway, to become Haere Mai Rā for the 2019 compilation album Waiata/Anthems, featuring a variety of Aotearoa’s legends,.

As in her last Toitoi show, Runga’s husband and longtime collaborator, Kody Nielson, forms part of her band. The tour represents a rare treat for the couple to spend time together. Nielson’s own band, Unknown Mortal Orchestra have a gruelling touring schedule of their own, having recently played Glastonbury. “It’s a tough job being touring musicians,” Runga reflects, “there’s no way around it. It’s just what we do.” 

Musical excellence and the dedicated professionalism required for more than two decades at the pinnacle of the industry is a way of life for Bic Runga. Her many accolades attest to this fact – practically all of Aotearoa’s musical honours, twenty Tui Awards, a Silver Scroll, membership of the New Zealand Order of Merit, the New Zealand Music Legacy Award, and induction to the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame. 

But more than the prestige of her famous name, Runga’s concert offers fans a feeling, an auditory and experiential connection to who they once were, and how far they have come.

Bic Runga plays Toitoi on Saturday 15 July. Last tickets on sale now.

Photo: Aileen Chen


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