PanAm “Cigars In The Suitcase”

2003-panam-cigars-in-the-suitcaseA horse walks into a music video. Animals aren’t the easiest things to have in music videos, but director Richard Bell uses plenty of footage of a horse in PanAm’s final NZOA-funded video.

The video opens with a close-up of a horse’s eye, but the whole video is shot in black and white, so it’s more artistic than veterinary. The horse shots provide the backdrop for PanAm performing the song in a studio. As well as the horse, we also see Paul from PanAm singing on the backdrop as he simultaneously performs in front of it. Meta. I will also note that by this stage Paul’s hair has grown out of the awkward in-between stage, as seen in the previous video, and is looking longer and more in control. Nice one.

It’s easily PanAm’s best video. It’s shot nicely (though the fake film scratches now look really dated) and the band are confident performers. Even the visual non sequitur of the horse fits right in with the song and the band’s energy.

Over on the Songlines Across New Zealand blog, Paul says this about the video:

“With this one we were tying to do a late 60’s psychedelic idea crossed with a bit of early 90’s (in black and white), we added shots of a big old horse into the mix I and I still think this video is by far the best example of a band performance as we were honed from lots of touring around that time. In fact that video probably represents the high-water mark in terms of the bands powers of entertainment. It was all downhill from there!”

It’s a reminder that making a good music video isn’t necessarily something that a band can do right off the bat. Performing on camera is a different thing to performing on stage. A good director can help, but it takes time to learn that skill. And it seems that PanAm got there in the end.

Best bit: extreme close-up horse nose.

Director: Richard Bell
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… robot smash.

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