St James shuts doors indefinitely


Less than one year ago, Auckland's iconic St James theatre re-opened its doors.

Since then it has put on a slew of phenomenal performances, including Jamie XX, Death Cab for Cutie and Kurt Vile.

Last night the Milwaukee alternative rock band Violent Femmes had the special honour of farewelling the theatre indefinitely.

Brian Ritchie, one of the founding members, said: "It feels like déjà vu, that every time we play here there's something closing. But this time it's going to have a happy ending 'cause they'll be renovating the theatre".

The band was one of the last to play before the theatre closed in 2007.

The St James was opened in 1928 and is one of Auckland's most iconic theatres. However an electrical fire in 2007 next door in the Regent Theatre forced both theatres to shut down as they were deemed unsafe.

It only reopened in April last year, but just for a sneak peak before being totally renovated hopefully reopening for good in late 2017 or 2018.

Tina Plunkett, from the group Save the St James Theatre said: "It's not closing down completely. The doors are closing and there's a lot of work to be done for the hopeful restoration of the St James.

"Most people have been really surprised when they heard, as they thought it was opening for good, but it's just a temporary measure.

"Hopefully with the National Government coming through with the national heritage fund it'll only be for as long as it takes to restore her," Ms Plunkett said.

"It was never going to be a permanent solution. And there were a few times that we were like 'oh no this isn't going to happen', but we're really hopeful that it is going to re-open [after this closure]."

The Femmes have a fan base in New Zealand that stretches back to the early days.

Ritchie said: "We came here first in 1984 and received our first gold record anywhere in the world here in 1986 so we've always thought of New Zealand as a strong Femmes territory. To the point where we'd be on the TV or radio and people would say, 'from New Zealand, the Violent Femmes,' and we would be like what? Okay!"

Watch the full interview with the Violent Femmes here.