The art of live performance

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WHEN singer/songwriter Anthonie Tonnon organises a gig, he doesn’t just think about the music, he thinks about the whole experience.

Tonnon performed in Invercargill last year as the opening act to New Zealand music royalty The Chills and is now headlining his own gig at the Southland Masonic Centre on Friday, April 27, presented in association with Massav Productions.

Tonnon has developed a bit of a signature style on stage which combines electronic and traditional instrumentalism, theatricality and dance.

“On the music side at the moment I’m combining a traditional sense of instrumentalism in terms of playing a keyboard and playing a guitar… but in terms of the wider show I’m really trying to tell a story, and I try to use theatricality.”

He said he took influence from theatre and performance art.

“And a surreal sense of storytelling as well in terms of where the banter goes in between songs. It’s all trying to direct people into taking them out of the usual traditions in a gig.

“What I try to do is use surprises in the way that I move, or in the direction that the banter goes in or in the surprises in the music.”

Tonnon said he developed as a musician in Dunedin, then learned a lot about the aesthetics of a show while in Auckland and touring overseas.

“I just kind of developed a show that thinks a bit more widely, beyond the music and into what kind of experience I’m giving.

“I’m a big believer in the power of live shows.”

One of the good things about touring was creating a connection with the audience, he said.

“Having to connect with a different set of people every night forces you to learn more tools so that you can connect in some way and make the show something that can’t be replaced by anything.

“You shouldn’t really be able to replace [a live show] by sitting at home and watching it on the computer.”

Tonnon said he was trying to get away from the idea of a rock show as being an endurance act.

“If you do it well enough and carefully enough you can turn what looks like a normal gig into a piece of performance art, or a piece of immersive theatre.

“I try to have a show that’s a little shorter and snappier, but it really tries to engage the audience.

“It’s a very powerful thing and musicians are really lucky.”

Tonnon will play music from his recent EP Two Free Hands, and also preview new material.

Massav Productions music promoter Blair Savory said Tonnon was a world-class New Zealand performer and encouraged Southlanders to get out and about and enjoy the quality entertainment on their doorstep.

Anthonie Tonnon, Southland Masonic Centre, Forth St, Friday, April 27, 8pm. For tickets or to find out more, go to anthonietonnon.com

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