Concert Review: Adele


Eight years since I was first mesmerised by Adele’s epic ballads, the night I was waiting for for so long, finally arrived. Last night I was one of the lucky ones who got to witness this superstar bring down the house at her final show at Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland. This morning I’m basking in the afterglow of one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to. Not even a traffic jam that meant I was at risk of missing my flight back to wellington can bring this gal down today.

I wish I could relive that concert over and over. Adele has the best voice I’ve ever heard. In two hours of music, all of which soars across low and high pitch and has key change upon key change, Adele did not miss one note. Each song was sung to perfection. I spent half the show with my mouth gaping open in amazement, tears rolled down my face in awe at least five times and I laughed wholeheartedly on numerous occasions.

A huge part of Adele’s appeal as a musician is that she’s real and relatable. As this was the last stadium show of her overseas tour we were treated as an audience to a raw version of her. She spoke with tears about what an accomplishment finishing this tour is for her, she never thought she’d make it through 50 shows let alone 219. She confirmed the rumours we’d all hoped weren’t true – “I don’t know if I’ll ever tour again” – and we all felt incredibly grateful in that moment that we got to witness her magnificence.

Despite it absolutely pissing down the entire show, this artist – with no trace of diva – continued to strut the stage in her waterlogged dress. She had make-up dripping down her face as she batted away wet and sticky bits of confetti but no complaints were made! Instead she just laughed about getting eyelash glue in her eyes and falling on her ass – a little bit of water wasn’t going to stop her giving us a show to remember. At one point she even donned a poncho handed to her by a helpful fan and the crowd erupted into giggles as she looked like a pink marshmallow while singing a heartfelt ballad.

All of the big hits were played, reminding us why they’re the favourites. Chasing Pavements, When We Were Young, Rolling in the Deep and Someone Like You certainly stood out. Hello was so powerful as an opener that I was completely overcome with emotion. It took me about a minute to shake off the tears. I realised then just what kind of concert I was in for and the anticipation was intense.

There were endless lovely moments but I was particularly taken by her performances of Don’t You Remember, Take It All and Make You Feel My Love – which she dedicated to her husband and son before struggling not to cry while delivering the most stunning rendition.

As we trudged home in the heavy rain, our faces plastered with grins, we knew this was a concert above the rest. “This will be the artist we rave to our kids about one day” we quipped. Thanks Adele, you’re going to be hard to beat.


The 2017 WOMAD Awards

IMG_9563Another year later and I’m once again nursing an epic hangover from a wonderful three days at WOMAD in New Plymouth. This year we had the most stunning weather imaginable, the mountain was out in full glory, the flags were glistening in the sunshine and the people were kicking off their shoes and embracing bare feet as a cool-down method. The Bowl of Brooklands was looking its finest, and the music, food and dance that filled it was certainly world class, here are my picks:

The crowd favourite award:

This has to go to UK ska superstars The Specials. Their energetic set to close out Friday night was just what the doctor ordered. They had the bowl stage packed in and everyone was up on their feet dancing away as they charged through a hit filled set. Songs like Message To You Rudy and Ghost Town were echoing in my head for hours after they left the stage, only complaint – an hour set wasn’t long enough!

The unforgettable award:


The Soil, an acapella trio from South Africa, blew me away. I am lost for words when I think back to their closing set on the Dell stage on Sunday night, it was the perfect performance to finish the festival on. This trio have voices like I’d never heard before and their ‘kasi soul’ sound is modern but traditional at the same time. It was simply magical to listen to under the trees and stars and beside a shimmering lake. I’ll never forget their show and that feeling.

The stage presence award:

Mali dance music hero Inna Modja had the most compelling stage presence. I couldn’t take my eyes of her! She moved with grace and funk, sang each note perfectly, told stories with pride and passion and generally just had me as putty in her hands.

The best dance party award:


New Orleans jazz-hip hoppers the Hot 8 Brass Band had the crowd at the Gables Stage on Sunday dancing like mad things with their funky blend of genres. They had a contagiousness to their performance and I had a stupid grin plastered on my face as me and friends bogeyed the set away. Their musicianship was outstanding, to have so much talent on one stage is pretty darn impressive. Special mention to the trumpet player who regularly gave me chills as he hit such high notes so effortlessly.

The wow factor award:

Marlon Williams, our kiwi folk prodigy, ditched the dingy bar concert venues to take on the mighty Bowl of Brooklands and he did it superbly. He and his talented band the Yarrabenders, had the huge crowd overwhelmed in various fashions throughout his show. I was close to tears numerous times and kept gushing over how long he could hold a note for. I loved being up stomping my feet in a mad dash to keep up with the fast moving guitar before sitting back by the lake front to sway side to side in a mesmerised daze.


The unexpected delight award:

Sitting down on a sunny Sunday afternoon to watch some of New Zealand’s best dancers on stage was a true privilege. The New Zealand Dance Company had the crowd captivated and were the talk of the festival for their stunning perfourmance of Brouhaha. I’m no dance expert but I loved it and didn’t want it to finish! Great to see the D put back in WOMAD.

Song of the Week – 3WW

3WW – alt-J

English indie group alt-J’s new track is dreamy. 3WW is a slow-building mesmeriser. Whatever you do upon first listen, don’t cut it off early, keep going right till the end and it won’t disappoint.

3WW features a more gentle melody than their previous works, it’s lullaby-like for much of the song. But don’t you worry -the alt-J trademarks still shine through loud and clear, they just have new twists. For example – a woman’s vocals (Wolf Alice’s Ellie Rowsell) adds a refreshing new element to the quirky male vocals we’ve come to love from lead singer Joe Newman.

I must say, I’m a big fan of all their old work, but I love being able to follow the lyrics in this song more clearly than in previous tunes. Captivating poetry shines through:

“There was a wayward lad
Stepped out one morning
The ground to be his bed
The sky his awning”

The song has mellow use of synth and soft drum beats throughout but cleverly inserts bursts of crescendo which take the song from being a cafe style easy-listener to a well-thought out and cleverly crafted single.

This is the first track off the bands upcoming album Relaxer. It reflects the album name as it is a more subdued style song for the group but I think it’s an interesting new direction and I can’t wait to hear more.

Song of the Week – Barcelona

Barcelona – Ed Sheeran

Ed is back with better material than ever with his new album Divide. He’s tried to take on a different sound in every track on this record and it sure makes for fun and surprising listening!

My favourite track from my first couple of listens is jazzy tune Barcelona. This song just makes me grin – right now I’m on the train listening to it and I’m having to work hard to stop my feet tapping and my shoulders jiggling in time with the bouncy and fun-loving track.

If you’re looking for a song to ensure you feel happy, make you want to dance and unable to not singalong then this is it! Pure happiness for three minutes!!

Song the Week – Big Picture

Big Picture – London Grammar

English alt-pop group London Grammar are back with a vengeance with new track Big Picture, an epic ballad with a modern electro sound. In shades of their previous works it is a true builder – with every line sung the melody layered beneath grows and grows to great effect.

It’s hard not to sit up and listen when you hear Hannah Reid’s insane voice! This woman has such a unique sound and can show off the most impressive range, but the control she has of her instrument is the icing on the cake. Throughout Big Picture she changes the tempo and the feeling of the track regularly, her voice holds the power. The best part – the rest of the band (Dan Rothman and Dominic Major), know this. For that reason the bases to the songs aren’t overpowering but instead shadow Reid and move in her direction. It works beautifully and helps to make their music so powerful.

Big Picture is just a small taste of what’s to come on London Grammar’s new album and now I’m bloody excited.