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Julia Deans - Julia Deans @ Tuning Fork, Auckland

03 Sep 2018 // A review by hailtree

It’s a quiet Saturday evening down in Auckland, and I’m a little worried I’ve come to the wrong venue – as there isn’t a single soul outside. I make my way up to the door and am greeted by a couple of friendly security guards, who quickly usher me in as the show is about to start.

Tuning Fork is packed, no wonder there’s no one on the streets! Lexxa are just taking to the stage as I enter, and I quickly make my way towards the front of the venue. I had seen Julia and Maude Morris a few weeks earlier and was captivated by their stage presence. Their sibling bond is evident instantly, as they are perfectly in sync with each other – including some perfectly timed simultaneous knee slaps, which adds an adorable little touch to their performance.

Julia moves away from the keyboard after a few songs to pick up her bass but is quickly pulled up by Maude – "We’re not doing that yet! But one more, and then Julia’s going to play the bass!" They whip through their set list, and I can’t help but have a little dance and sing – their music is just so catchy! Maude takes a moment during a song break to introduce She Loves You’s drummer Katie, whom they’ve kidnapped to play with them for the first time.

Their performance is heartfelt, and it feels like I’m witnessing two sisters telling secrets and stories in private, rather than a live show. But I think that’s what makes them so loveable, plus it’s evident how comfortable they are with being on stage, with Maude continuing to dance around the stage singing along without her microphone during Julia’s solo’s.

As their set draws to a close, they introduce to us a "brand new song no one has ever heard before… except Katie". I’m instantly captivated by it, the highlight of it being where Julia sings, and Maude simultaneously recites the words – it’s a beautiful combination of music and spoken word poetry, and really tugs at the heartstrings, as the lyrics are thick with pain, yet portrayed in the most beautiful way.

Before they leave the stage, they thank Julia Deans once again for having them along, and Julia Morris comments that “it’s been a confusing day” having two Julia’s around.

Julia Deans takes the stage, draped in a luminescent white blouse, and with the way that the spotlights are shining on her – she looks like the human embodiment of an angel. She thanks Lexxa for opening and introduces her first song as being inspired by "that moment when you realise you’ve been behaving like a total dick!"

The audience hush instantly, captivated by Julia's presence. Everyone is hanging on to every word she sings – which is beautifully framed with a stunning backing band. Having Tali and Reb Fountain adds a beautiful touch, as it creates a trio of females at the forefront of the stage – Julia had mentioned that the majority of her tour was women based, including the booking agents, promoters, and publicists – as well as specifically choosing only female musicians to take the opening spots in each city! It’s a beautiful way to showcase the incredible talent we have in this country – even my uber driver to the venue had held an interesting conversation with me about how brilliantly talented a lot of New Zealand is.

Pausing for a quick drink of water, Julia jokes "it's thirsty work this!", as she reaches for her re-usable water bottle. They’re all obviously very aware of the plastic crisis, as Tali also has a re-usable water bottle, and takes a moment to advise us that they’re selling ‘bags for life’ (tote bags) at the merch desk – plus Julia also has some beautiful silk scarves with her album artwork printed on it for sale, which my friend informed me is a very sustainable fabric, that helps prevent wrinkles, and helps keep hair shiny and strong – so a purchase of one of these scarves is definitely a worthwhile investment both in yourself, and in Julia.

"I’ve been wanting to play here for aaaaaages, so thank you Tuning Fork!... I’m very lucky to have this marvellous group of humans to play shows with and bummed out this is the last one," Julia exclaims, as she lets out some exaggerated bawling, and wipes away fake tears from her eyes. As she moves away from her guitar, and towards the empty keyboard at the front of the stage, she takes a moment to thank "invisible Elvis." A joke which is met with silence from the audience – Julia quickly explains her joke to us "It’s an invisible Elvis jokeThere’s an empty keyboard, and Elvis played keyboard…"

Each song that Julia introduces includes a loving little anecdote – "Life is fucking short, we’re only here on this planet with these people for a short moment, and it’s important to remember that!" It’s easy to relate to her, she’s honest and refreshing, and a constant reminder to "do better".

Towards the end of the set, Julia’s band quietly and quickly exit the stage, and Julia takes the chance to thank them again, referring to them as "The Great Exitters! Because they’re great at exiting!" And just like that, the stage is adorned by only Julia and her guitar, as she introduces the title track of her album We Light Fire – a song inspired by all the milestones in life, where we light fire as a tradition – something that she explains is universal across the whole human race. Julia gives us a decent spiel about what inspired this song, and the audience is silent, watching on in awe of this beautifully present being onstage, "yeah so this song is that great big spiel summed up in about 3 minutes!"

As Julia welcomes her band back onstage, the crowd cheer, and a punter calls out “Beautiful song!” which is quickly met with a sincere thank you from Julia – all night she had remarked that the crowd was incredibly silent, even shouting "SHHH" into the microphone during a song’s intermission – though if only she knew that down on the crowd floor, there were definitely murmurs of appreciation all throughout the night. Perhaps the sound just doesn’t travel up to the stage at Tuning Fork?

"All too fast it’s the last song of the set, it always creeps up on me way too fast," Julia thanks her band yet again – honestly it’s beautiful to see a musician so appreciative of the talent that is joining her on stage, and introduces her last song Walking In The Sun – "It’s about doing better, so let’s get out and do better!" she exclaims, before hitting the wrong notes to start the song off – "Oops! Wrong sound! I will do better!" she laughs, as she launches into it.

All too fast it’s over, and the stage is empty. The crowd start to talk among themselves, and I hear people exclaiming about what a beautiful show it was, and how they loved listening to her album – and then the classic encore chant began to start, however it almost immediately stopped before it started, as Tali takes to the stage again, encouraging the crowd to make some noise if they wanted to hear more music. The crowd is quick to cheer, and the rest of the band join Tali up on stage.

Introducing her last song for the night, Julia left us with one final last piece of encouragement, "I like to think of this song as a big warm hug… and anyone who’s feeling fucking fantastic, this is also for you."

Review written by Mandie Hailwood

About Julia Deans

From honey-sweet falsetto to menacing growl, the voice of Julia Deans has offered light and shade to a variety of musical endeavours over the years. From fronting Fur Patrol’s muscular pop-rock to her electro-pop stylings with Tiki Taane; from co-conspirator with renowned supergroup The Adults to sultry chanteuse with the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra; Deans has never shied from adding new strings to her bow. After slipping off her shoes as the charismatic front woman for Fur Patrol, Julia has left her Melbourne home of ten years and returned to NZ to step effortlessly into the role of solo artist – delivering some of her most exquisite songs yet in the beautiful debut album Modern Fables.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Julia Deans


We Light Fire
Year: 2018
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
Modern Fables
Year: 2010
Type: Album
A New Dialogue
Year: 2009
Type: EP

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