Nude Wrestling

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Nude Wrestling  —  resident at The Imperial Hotel
Gary Verberne (Guitar), Ross McDermott (Bass), Annie Davies (Saxophone/Vocals), Steve Clarkson (Drums) later replaced by Leon Kearns and Nancy Kiel (Vocals)


Nancy Kiel


Gary Verberne (Guitar)

Annie Davies (Saxophone/Vocals)

Leon Kearns (Drums)

Ross McDermott (Bass)


The following is a newspaper article written by Brent Hansen


I lurch into the Imperial flashing my "Spin Off Writer" card, dragging in two or three waifs and strays from the cut-price liquor store across the car-park, and head for the bar.  Armed with a handle full of Pinto Orange I seek refuge from the leather hot pants and fish-net stockings which appear to have commandered the dance floor.  The only seat available is behind a dirty great brick pillar — can't see a thing, but the band sounds great!

I sit and listen to Nude Wrestling play the delightful "Keep A Light In My Window" sung by Annie Davies, then a smoky, rich and raw-edged version of the Motel's standard Total Control this time sung by Nancy Kiel. So for so good ... The hot pants have cleared the floor; I rest easy and poke my head around the pillar.

God, how do they fit five musicians on such a small stage?  I recognize Steve Clarkson on drums, rock solid and steady, hemmed into the corner of the stage.  Ross McDermott, the bass player, bounces effervescently (reminds me of the manic guitarist in AC/DC), and Gary Verberne (l'm later told that he's called NOODLE, or is it Nudle?) is proving that he is a mean guitarist for one who appears so young.  Young Noodle!  But the two legendary ladies of Christchurch music are right up front an the stage.  Nancy Kiel resplendent in red tights and top, and fingerless black leather Gary Player golf gauntlets, plays keys (and flute}; Annie D-A-V-I-E-S (I'm Welsh you know) proudly displays her magnificent kaftan and lovingly blows her saxophone.  Impressive; and with a sound best described as "meaty, beaty, big and bouncy", to match.  The band takes a break, and I replenish my handle, visit ye Bogges, (I didn't see any); and collar Annie who promises a treat in the next bracket and then unsuccessfully attempts to sell me a ticket to the Jazz Cellar. I regain my aeat thinking that Annie has probably done more for Christchurch music than anyone since Ray "She's A Mod" Columbus "invaded" Auckland! lt’s then that I realise that just about everyone including some at the band is wearing jandals! I quickly hide my punched leather Angus Wesleys and effect a cigarette burn to the right foot of my Pierre Cardin half-hose.

The next bracket is a veritable feast musical styles.  Kinks, Superman, Bonnie Raitt’s version of the Del Shannon classic Runaway, a great version of the PretendersPrivate Lives (with an excellent Noodle/Nudle guitar break), some Beatles, ska reggae, (J.M. Williams’ swing standard That Cat Is High, and an S & M number called One More Knight In Black Leather utilising Annie's sax playinq, judging by the crowd response this must be a favourite).

The dance floor is packed, the band obviously enjoying their material interspersing it with slightly blue jokes about rabbits, tampax, and Smoky The Bear, none of which I wish to repeat. The highlight of the evening appears now in the form of what Annie describes as the SIX TITS! The ubiquitous Janis Gray joins Annie and Nancy to croon through a Maori number and In The Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening: Delightfully earthy renditions, breathy accapella and female—proud.

The last number is announced, and yours truly with brain addled from an attempt at categorizing this versatile ensemble takes to the dance floor, and after 3 or 4 refusals I settle down and boogie with the aforementioned brick pillar (no chat, no "thank you", and no embarrassed looks). Take Me To The River drives out in heavy metal tones, a late-night-stagger dance beat, with little or no resemblance to either Al Green's original, nor to the versions by Bryon Ferry or Talking Heads.  The tune climaxes in both Annie and Nancy screaming, (heavy metal kids), more convincingly than Ian Gillan after a slug of listerine. I thank the pillar (we weren't compatible) and head out into the rain.

As the Solex pulls out onto Barbadoes Street, I muse upon what an excellent pub band Nude Wrestling are.  They unashamedly cover tunes from almost every popular music form of the 20th Century (from swing to ska).  There are more than few rough edges, but Nude Wrestling put on a show —they exude personality.  I skid home on my bike feeling that I have mode some musical friends; why don't you come along with me next week, we could have a good time?  "All right driver pull over!"
Stop Press: As indicated last issue the Nudes have changed their drummer.  Steve Clarkson joining the Narcs.  The new edition is Leon Kearns (see pic), an excellent drummer and vocal chordist roturning from the U.S.A. and Britain.  Amongst good company.