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Thursday, February 9, 2017

Aldous Harding - Blue Smoke - Christchurch 8th February 2017

Aldous is a young folk singer originally from Lyttelton, just over the hill from Christchurch. Her debut album came out in 2014 but I didn't come across it till last year. It is a solo acoustic record and Aldous(real name Hanna apparently) sings with a different sort of phrasing which makes her singing sound almost Irish. The Album is enjoyable but needs focused listening to appreciate it fully. I certainly had been enjoying her music to a certain extent but after watching some videos of her on YouTube I was starting to get a feel for how intense and committed to her art she is, so the opportunity to see her play live might prove to be a rewarding experience. This was the first night of a short New Zealand tour preceding her forthcoming second album and for the first time ever she was to have a band playing with her.
  Friend Bryce, who attended the Veils Concert with me the previous week, was back on board to check out this singer he had never heard of before, trusting my knowledge and tastes to lead him to something enjoyable. He was not disappointed.
  We arrived just minutes before the support act hit the stage to a mostly full venue. The support act, Oscar Dowling, was a young three piece playing fairly nondescript indie pop or something, they were not particularly tight and the sound was pretty muddy. I thought the guitarist did play some interesting stuff and some tempo/timing changes in a couple of songs impressed but overall they weren't particularly memorable.
  Aldous hit the stage around 10pm, dressed all in white, alone with her acoustic and proceeded to  play us three or four songs, some from her debut album and one I'm not sure. We were someway back in the room and she was sitting down so it was difficult to see her but the sound was really good and she sounded wonderful, her guitar picking is also impressive. The rest of the band soon joined her on stage and she introduced us to a bit of what was going to happen in the show. They played several new songs from the forthcoming album, all of which sounded impressive with her singing voice going to so many different places and sounding pretty powerful at times. Some of the stuff they had never played live in concert before so we were getting a real treat. She also did a Paul McCartney song and towards the end of the show, did something she said they she had never done before, rock out with her song "Hunter" and they pulled it of wonderfully. She was having a great time playing with the band and because they were playing in a subtle and intensely subdued way, the sound was very good.She came back on for an encore and played another solo song and said, as the band came back on, that they would play one more. I had been hoping like hell she would play "Horizon", A song not yet on record but I had seen a video of her performing it live last year, it was a powerful song and her performance of it in that video impressed me greatly. I was thrilled, along with many others in the audience, when she announced that that was the last song of the night, Bryce had no idea of the magic he was about to witness. With the band backing her quietly in the background her vocals on this powerful song erupted to a completely other level and just about blew us out of the room, it was far better even that the video version that I had seen, I had goosebumps and Bryce was just gobsmacked.  Her performance of it was just sublime and absolutely moved me to tears, one of the most outstanding live musical moments I have ever experienced. A gig never to be forgotten.

The video below is the original one i had seen before this gig just to give you an Idea how good this song is.

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