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Hollie Smith - Gig Review: Hollie Smith @ The Playhouse, Nelson - 22/09/2019

23 Aug 2019 // A review by jacquiew

Hollie Smith has a lovely voice and is a highly-regarded singer known to many for her work with TrinityRoots and Fly My Pretties, and for her vocals on the Don McGlashan penned hit Bathe In The River. Smith has also had significant success in her solo career to date.

The Playhouse was sold out for the final gig of her solo tour, billed as an Intimate Song Showcase of new and familiar material.

There is no doubt, judging from the crowd reaction, that Smith has ardent fans. There was a lot of love in the room for her as she shared her thoughts between songs and revealed the inspiration behind some of her new and as yet unrecorded material.

I have the feeling that the recording process will bring out the best in the new material, however last night’s concert, as much as I really wanted to love it, left me feeling distinctly underwhelmed.

From my vantage point in a seat two rows from the stage the vocal sound was really bad. Awash with reverb, the words were indistinguishable and the lack of sound clarity meant that the quality of Smith’s voice was not at all evident. With a singer of Smith's calibre that really takes some doing. A few songs in, I went and stood at the back of the room to see if the sound was any better there. It was somewhat improved, but you really shouldn’t have to shift around the room to get a good sound experience in such a small venue.

Smith herself seemed uncertain for most of the night. With some performers the solo setting lets you into their material in a new and powerful way but Smith seemed distinctly uncomfortable and fidgety.

It was also distracting that she seemingly didn’t know her own lyrics and even directly referred to not being able to read the lyrics of a bridge for one of the songs saying that we would notice that bit as she wouldn’t be singing any words. At $40 a ticket to attend the concert that just doesn’t seem very professional to me. It also surprised me that Smith was still so tentative given this was the final gig in her tour.

It was mid-way through the quite short 12-song set before things seemed to settle a bit with a slight improvement in the sound quality for What About. The Damage Done was also good with Smith referencing the #metoo and #blacklivesmatter movements in her introduction. Something Good, was the highlight of the set for me. It was a clearly heartfelt and soulful number and conveyed a beautiful depth of feeling.

The most entertaining part of the evening were Smith’s remarks between songs. She has an endearing and self-deprecating sense of humour, but also seemed immensely relieved that her tour was coming to an end.

She was also absolutely clear that there would be no encore, regardless of the audience’s wish for one. But I’m not sure the request would in fact have been made. It was a strange evening and I’m really not convinced that Smith did herself or her songs real justice.

Perhaps we just got an off night. I hope so, because Smith is a wonderful talent and truly deserves success.


About Hollie Smith

Hollie Smith is one of NZ's most predominant & celebrated New Zealand musicians. After working with numerous bands including TrinityRoots, Fat Freddy’s Drop and Detroit dance legend Recloose, she was approached by NZ royalty Don McGlashan to perform on a movie soundtrack single Bathe In The River that topped the NZ charts & became one of the biggest & iconic singles in NZ history.

This set the stage for her debut album Long Player which went straight to number one on the NZ charts, This multi platinum selling album had sold out national tours & saw her take away several NZ music awards which included ‘Best Producer’, ‘Best Female Solo Artist’ and ‘Breakthrough artist of the year’. Long Player also caught the attention of Bruce Lundvall, head of Blue Note records in New York, where she spent time working with Philidelphia heavyweight soul producer James Poyser. This also saw her tour Europe as part of the Blue Note Jazz Festival.

Her follow up album Humour and the Misfortune of Others also hit number one receiving rave review & again numerous award nominations & sell out tours, proving she was here to stay. During this time she also supported Bob Dylan, Coldplay and Simply Red in NZ.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Hollie Smith


Water Or Gold
Year: 2016
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
Band Of Brothers Vol 1
Year: 2011
Type: Album
Long Player - Deluxe Edition
Year: 2008
Type: Album
Long Player
Year: 2007
Type: Album
Year: 2006
Type: EP

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