Kings Arms

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59 France Street,

(09) 373 3240

The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byBrett Atkinson6/08/2007

4 out of 5

To quote Alanis Morrisette, "Isn't it ironic?" One of Auckland's oldest pubs is now a favourite haunt of the city's newest up and coming bands.

Originally opened in 1880, I've had a few great nights at the Kings Arms. Promoters like Mystery Girl book it for up and coming and cult international acts, and across recent years I've bounced up and down to bands like Calexico and Sleater-Kinney. When recent visitors The Shins first played Auckland a few years ago, the gig was at the Kings Arms. Back for a triumphant tour last week they'd graduated to the Power Station. It's a pretty simple equation really. There's every chance the virtually unknown international band you see at the Kings Arms will return as much bigger stars a couple of years later.

On a cold Friday there are no international acts on tonight, but the vibe is building nicely until local performers kick off around 9pm. (There's live music on five nights a week). My last time at the Kings Arms was for the annual celebration of Joe Strummer's birthday - there's a special Strummer Day gig happening on Saturday August 18 this year - and since I last relived my youth with raucous versions of Clash songs, the Kings Arms has had a mini makeover with a couple of chandeliers and plush velvet drapes. Despite the subtle pretensions to moving upmarket it's still the honest rock and roll pub it's been for almost a generation. Pints of Guinness flow to recreate hazy nights in London and Dublin, and there's also a spacious garden bar that allows you to celebrate your inner Kiwi on summer afternoons and spring evenings. From 3pm on Sundays the garden bar usually features acoustic gigs. Meals (the usual including nachos, fries and burgers) are available from Thursday to Sunday at prices (most items are under ten bucks) to gladden the fiscally stretched wallets of students.

The Kings Arms continues to be the city's premier rock and roll pub. It's loved by musicians and music fans across the board - the newly reformed Crowded House even played a secret gig there last month - and with the recent demise of the Schooner Tavern, Auckland's live music scene needs the Kings Arms' grungy splendour more than ever.

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