Vorn Colgan is that rarest of things in this age of uber-hyped instant stardom and the reduction of pop music to another reality-show format point: an underground artist.
Since 1999, Colgan has been releasing albums to critical acclaim and building a small but fanatical following based on ceaseless touring with his phenomenal live band, all without the benefit of major label support or NZ on Air funding. Vorn provides the kind of needle-sharp lyrical wit the average songwriter would happily swap a kidney for.
His 2011 release ‘Down For It’ was a bona-fide masterpiece of pop songwriting, effortlessly switching between (and occasionally mashing together) seemingly disparate genres to create an entirely new vision of what pop music can be in the 21st century.
Simon Sweetman opined “Colgan is one of this country’s greatest songwriters, never cloying or faux-romantic; these are direct songs; honest, cynical, sincere, hilarious and in many cases ridiculously catchy.” Grant Smithies concurred – “Here’s a man capable of wringing great pop from the bleaker aspects of modern urban life… it’s the sharp eye for sadness that attracts me; his ability to use humour to expose pain, his affection for the underdogs.”
Since the release of his first solo album 20 years ago, Vorn has eked out a career as one of those artists who are widely acclaimed by critics and fellow musicians and largely ignored by the wider public.
This tendency to languish in obscurity certainly has nothing to do with output - Colgan has released 8 solo albums between stints working with avant pop savants Gold Medal Famous and providing accordion services for the Wellington Sea Shanty Society and is currently at work on his ninth album, tentatively titled How Much Do You People Want From Me??
But in this age of high-speed news cycles it is not enough for an artist to have a huge, high-quality back catalogue and crack live band to turn out punters for a gig. You need a marketing gimmick. Having noted the success of the Chills in parlaying a Hepatitis C diagnosis into a successful film career, Vorn decided to go one better and develop Stage 4 Melanoma. "This isn't a joke", he said in a recent interview. "I have cancer. Will you come to my damn gig now?"
For the Last Chance to See tour, Vorn will attempt to play as many gigs around the country as possible before his illness prevents him. If you haven't been to a Vorn gig before, we recommend it highly - Vorn gigs are always something special and now have the added value of scarcity.
Disclaimer: In the case of a miracle cure for melanoma preventing Vorn's death, no one gets their money back.
Quaint (from Polar Extremes)