22 Jun 2018
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Gig Review: Stellar* @ The Tuning Fork, Auckland - 09/03/2018

13 Mar 2018 // A review by butch181

It was a mild Friday evening, and the plaza outside Spark Arena was bustling with a mix of people ready to see Stellar* and Mrs Brown's Boys. As Spark Arena’s doors opened, the crowds filed away, leaving the group of Stellar* fans to make the most of the outdoor seating as they waited for the Tuning Fork’s to follow suit and open doors. Doors opened on time and the patrons filed in, lining the edges of the venue after grabbing their order of ciders, wines, and craft beer.

Opening act for the night came from synth-pop duo Lexxa, a.k.a. twin sisters Maude and Julia Morris. Starting bang on time, bathed in red and blue lights, they greeted the gathering crowd with a simple “Hey”. With music largely based around their backing tracks, the duo adds accents to the style with vocals, guitar, keys, and an electronic drum kit. With piercing clean vocals, stunning highs, and beautiful harmonies, they present an intriguing vocal dynamic. Watching the two perform on stage, each sister has a different style to them, Maude portraying the controlled and purposeful personality, while Julia has the excitable and energetic flair to her performance. Their songs are lyrically basic, jovial, and very easy for the crowd to get into, bringing them closer to the stage with each track. Even their cover of Paramore’s Hard Times was well-received and fit in really well with their stable of songs. There is a clear amateur vibe to their show when you listen to their banter and knocking their instruments around, and the wobble in their voices as their set progressed, but the crowd loved it, and they created a positive uplifting atmosphere. Definitely a lot of potential, and a group to keep an eye out for.

It was ten minutes before schedule when Stellar* finally took to the stage. The focal point of the band, Boh Runga was dressed in a long glittery “tinsel” dress and sneakers as she was running late, and didn’t stop to change them, a piece of banter that made the crowd ever-cheerful knowing that Boh was as excited to be there and perform, as they were to attend. In what was their first set of shows in eight years, Stellar* churned through an hour-long set, cramming in 14 tracks, before an additional two tracks in the encore performance. Kicking the set off with Slow Burn, you can tell Boh has kept up with the singing as she exhibits great clarity in her voice, and the crowd can’t help but cheer distractingly loud mid-song. Carving out all the hits from All It Takes, to Every Girl, One More Day, and Part of Me, they also played a selection of tracks from their third album Something Like Strangers (the only one of their albums not to reach #1 on the RIANZ album charts; a fact that bassist Kurt Shanks joked about on a couple of occasions).

The crowd was incredibly impassioned during the performance taking every slight lull as an opportunity to yell out loud how much they love the band, and the band revelled in it, using it to their advantage when the gear started to fail (three attempts to get the acoustic guitar powered up to no avail), whether it was joking about not fitting into their outfits, chiding each other about the amount of money they spend on gear or being openly flippant about how they did nothing for eight years to force the fans to listen to their 3rd album. When they performed, however, it was on point. No issues with acoustic guitars could keep them down and Chris Van der Geer showed off his technical abilities and fancy gear as Boh moved about on stage trying not to be too affected by heat from the spotlights.

As the set moved towards the back end, they performed some of the less expected tracks, such the duet For A While, which was performed without the second vocalist Andy Lovegrove (of Breaks Co-Op. They also recreated a cover of Sharon O’Neill’s 1983 hit Maxine, a track that they performed at the New Zealand Music Awards in November last year. The strength of Boh’s vocals was nearly intimidating in its precision, and a thrill to finally get to see them perform live. After heading off stage, they popped back for an encore performance dedicating Nerve & Consequences to Tom Bailey (of Thompson Twins fame), before closing off the set with none other than Violent, a track that had the crowd outsinging Boh in volume. A brilliant end to the night. No aggressive moshing, but an energetic and grateful crowd nonetheless, with Stellar* leaving the stage with promises of a 20-year anniversary tour next year.


Photos courtesy of and review written by Alex Moulton

About Stellar*

Stellar* – the hits – 'Violent', 'Part Of Me', 'Every Girl', 'Undone', 'What You Do', 'All It Takes', 'One More Day' – the list goes on and on. Their 1999 debut album 'Mix' set New Zealand’s radio waves alight, and Stellar* quickly became Sony Music’s biggest selling kiwi band. The acclaim wasn’t just sales based, with Stellar* securing eight Tui Awards for 'Mix' and its 2001 follow up 'Magic Line'.

After 'Magic Line' the band took some time out for expansion – singer Boh Runga went to live in Los Angeles to hone her skills as a songwriter:

"The opportunity came up to base myself in LA. My publisher introduced me to working songwriters over there, people who were writing for artists like Christina Aguilera, Meatloaf and Ricky Martin."

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Stellar*

Releases

The Best Of Stellar*
Year: 2010
Type: Album
Something Like Strangers
Year: 2006
Type: Album
Magic Line
Year: 2001
Type: Album
Mix
Year: 1999
Type: Album

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