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Live Photos: Aldous Harding - The Opera House, Wellington (+ Review)

Live Photos: Aldous Harding - The Opera House, Wellington (+ Review)

Oliver Gaskell / Monday 4th December, 2017 12:19PM

Celebrated local folk singer Aldous Harding brought her entrancing stage show to Wellington last Friday, with support from national treasure and The Chill’s frontman Martin Phillips.

The show coincided with the arrival of summer, on an uncharacteristically gorgeous warm evening in the capital – showing the love for one of New Zealand’s most talked about and internationally recognized singer/songwriters.

Harding’s current local tour is her biggest yet – encompassing sold out shows in large theatres all across the country, returning home from well received performances and press exposure around the world in the wake of her internationally lauded second record ‘Party’.

Having been a crucial part of the New Zealand music scene for almost 40 years, legendary Chill’s bandleader Martin Phillips proved once again why he deserves to be seen as one of the greatest songwriters this country has ever produced. Phillips mixed 80’s classics such as the eternal ‘Pink Frost’ and ‘Wet Blanket’ with newer tunes like 'Eazy Peazy' (a song Phillips said is about New Zealand’s appallingly high suicide rate) slated to appear on the upcoming Chill’s record.

Phillips was on fine form throughout, the stripped down renditions of his songs showcasing his gift for crafting beautiful melodies and sublime storytelling ability. Phillips set was well received by all – especially those old enough to know his past, but also bringing a much needed history lesson to those unaware of his extraordinary talent.

Excitement reached fever pitch once Aldous hit the stage, with whoops and cheers from the packed opera house showing how far Harding has come from her humble beginnings in the burgeoning Lyttelton folk scene.

Harding’s entrancing set mostly drew from her current record Party, as well as tracks from her self-titled debut – performed both solo and with a talented backing band featuring drums, piano, keys and woodwind instruments. Harding performed on a relatively unadorned stage, with her eerie gothic folk tunes perfectly fitting the atmosphere and aesthetic within the 100 year old opera house.

‘Party’ singles ‘Horizon’ and ‘Imagining My Man’ were highlights – intense and powerful, greeted with deafening applause from the hypnotized audience as the first notes were struck. Harding’s stage banter was kept to a minimum apart from a few thanks; she acknowledged this stating that she was “trying this new thing where she doesn’t talk.”

The lack of audience interaction arguably added to the show, letting the crowd get lost in the theatrical and cinematic nature of Harding’s song writing and stage performance. Colourful mood lighting embellished Harding’s dramatic stage presence, allowing listeners to get lost in her melancholic storytelling and unbelievably powerful and unique voice.

Softer tunes such as ‘What if Birds Aren’t Singing They’re Screaming’ and ‘Swell Does The Skull’ took on new levels of intensity live, with Harding’s powerful performance thrilling an already fanatical crowd. The show, clocking in at just over an hour, left a captivated audience breathless, gushing as they walked down the aisles as if they had just taken part in some sort of religious experience.

Check out Alexander Hallag's snaps of the occasion below...

Aldous Harding
Aldous Harding
Aldous Harding
Aldous Harding
Aldous Harding
Aldous Harding

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