Phoenix Foundation in long overdue return to Leigh

In between making albums, band members have also written movie scores for films including Boy, Eagle vs Shark and Hunt for the Wilderpeople.

Indie favourites The Phoenix Foundation are returning to the Leigh Sawmill Café after a long absence this month as part of a national tour to promote Friend Ship, their first new album in five years.

Band founder, musician and singer Samuel Scott says the 10-date tour will take in venues from community halls to city theatres, and the Leigh café venue was a must.

“We haven’t been to the Sawmill for years, but always used to play there because we love it and love the vibe up there, and we always get such an appreciative crowd. That was somewhere we wanted to go back to,” he says.

“The last full tour was five years ago, so it feels really fresh and exciting to be putting on a completely new show with new sound and a full lighting rig. We’ve got some big changes.”

One of the most noticeable is the addition to the six-man line-up of some of New Zealand’s top female vocalists and musicians, both on the album and the tour. In Leigh, The Phoenix Foundation will be joined by Anita Clark, who performs as Motte, on violin, keyboards, percussion and vocals. As well as her own input, she will be singing the parts sung by Nadia Reid and Hollie Fulbrook (Tiny Ruins) on several album tracks

“It’s nice to have a bit more female energy after 20 years of just being a bunch of blokes. It feels like it’s a good time to be lifting that energy up,” Samuel says. “I’m listening to a lot of music by NZ female artists, and it made a lot of sense to move in that direction, without distracting from what the Phoenix Foundation is – it enhances the whole package.”

He says the five-year break between albums has resulted in a stronger final product, one created to stand for the power of genuine friendship and community in a time of high anxiety.

“Five years ago, there was a decision that we shouldn’t rush back into it – it wasn’t a break-up, but we needed to take a breath. We’d done so many records and you don’t get as much back from album releases now as you used to, so the next one had to be special,” he says. “And once we took a break it took a while to get back into it, but I think it really benefited from it, because we were focused and everyone had great material – it’s one we really wanted to make.”

The Phoenix Foundation are at the Leigh Sawmill Café, with Motte as support, on Friday, November 20 at 8.30pm Tickets $42 plus booking fee from

Ticket Giveaway

We have one double pass to see The Phoenix Foundation at Leigh Sawmill Cafe on November 20. To enter, please email with Phoenix Foundation in the subject line and your name and contact details. Entry deadline November 18.

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