28 Nov 2022

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Kendall Elise - Gig Review: Kendall Elise @ Kumeu Live, Kumeu - 19/02/2022

20 Feb 2022 // A review by Roger Bowie

It’s an easy drive out west on this balmy February evening because everyone must be somewhere else or dodging aerosol missiles at home or flinching at the news from Ukraine. Kumeu Live is a small venue fashioned out of the Arts Centre with seating for 40-50 inside and an open flow outside to benches on a concrete court. Intimate setting for a red-light night for the red earth girl from red earth. Which is Papakura.

The venue host quotes Picasso: ”Art washes away from the soul, the dust of everyday life.” Keep your mask on, unless seated, there’s a lot of everyday life dust around thirsting for music to wash it away.

Opening act invited to stage. Beth Torrance is 17 and goes to school in Thames and writes songs and plays guitar and codes collaboratively on Scratch. Her EP is just out, and tonight we get to hear it in the raw, clipped vocals almost whispered, probably more nerves than affectation, but just enough to whet the interest and a search for files on Bandcamp which aren’t yet there but spotty-fi is last resort. Sweet indie pop, anthems of teenage angst and the pain of new emotions; love and likes juxtaposed with boredom, ennui and hopelessness “nothing matters and then we die”. Songs like Let’s Move To The Seaside and Never Feel Lonely Again, I’m So Sorry (I Really Love You); Arson and Stars. Her music reminds me of a stripped back Yo La Tengo or Courtney Barnett and then she covers Phoebe Bridgers and makes Phoebe sound like Beth Torrance. Play It Strange are supporting Beth and they know how to pick ‘em. Assurance and confidence grow with the set and with a little more audience interaction and she will be on her way. Very interesting indeed. Really really really like you.

Dusk falling, it’s time to let the night in, let the music flow, let all our worries, including teenage angst, dissipate as Kendall Elise, with just maestro guitarist John behind her, opens her set with the album’s title song. Third Time Lucky, this album launch tour, and curtailed at that, red light rules, smaller audiences, but determination to play last year’s sophomore album live is admirably persistent, and so here we are, letting the night in. It's ok, it's more than ok, it’s just fab.

The full band take the stage, Chris Kemp on drums, Rob Scott on bass, Kevin Place on rhythm guitar and the aforementioned John Segovia on magical guitar. Between Hello and Goodbye a break up song with a whistle, Something’s Gotta Give, the first song written for the album, way back in 2019, how bad things were back then, yeah right, how good things actually were in the light of what was to come. Nothing actually gave, something took.

Appropriate then, and surprise of the night, that a song from the first record pops up next, one I haven’t heard before, and… wow! “When night falls, the cold creeps in, that’s when I’ll be waiting” Black Dog. Song builds, band cuts loose, Segovia shines, this is a great song, should be played always.

Two of the sweetest songs on the album next, well almost, on the setlist there’s a question mark which shouldn’t be there. Who Kissed Who? Is a long song to husband Chris, and Kingdom isn’t to be, as Kendall shies off a song which is recorded in three part harmony. I’m sad. She’s a little unsure of doing the song without support. She needn’t be. Instead she pops in a cover, Who Will Save Your Soul, by Jewel Kirchner. Great song; helps me through my pain.

First time live, Make You Shine, moaning steel, perfectly rendered, with its classic opening line, “are you drunk from the airport?” No song can fail after a line like that. New single and album opener, Honest Hand, classic country, and another reminder how easy Kendall’s songs are, straightforward and direct. No effort required to suss these songs out. What you hear is what you get, just let the songs wash over you like a warm bath. Sexy song next, Kendall’s voice going sultry and deep as the tempo climbs. What I Want.

And with that, we are off and running with a fast tempo yee hah of a song, the title track from Red Earth. And thus begins a romp to the finish as the band rockabillies out the fast songs from the album, including the classic Suzi Quatro cover, Your Mama Won’t Like Me, before encoring with the classic first hit, Heart Full of Dirt. Red haired red dirt girl from red earth.

The moon is an egg as I drive back east on an almost deserted motorway, strange times indeed, Humpty Dumpty has had a great fall, and yet, the dust of everyday life has been washed away for just a moment by the power of music played live, and my angst is suppressed by the elation of Kendall Elise.

Set List

1.Let The Night In
Between Hello and Goodbye
Something’s Gotta Give
Black Dog
Who Kissed Who
Who Will Save Your Soul
Make You Shine
Honest Hand
I Want
Red Earth
You Got To Be A Little Mad
Your Mama Won’t Like Me
Heart Full of Dirt

Photo Credit: Chris Zwaagdyk / Zed Pics


About Kendall Elise

Kendall Elise is an intriguing story teller with a hint of yesteryear. With trademark quirky touches and flawless vocal delivery she has been turning heads since the release of her EP in 2017 I Didn’t Stand A Chance . Fresh from touring with Kiwi born, LA based Gin Wigmore and supporting Larkin Poe at their sold out Auckland show.
Her Debut single Heart Full of Dirt was a finalist for the APRA Best Country Music Song 2017.

Kendall Elise has just released her debut album, of which singles The Clock Tower and Valentine Street feature. The album debuted at number 12 on the NZ Music Album Charts.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Kendall Elise


Let The Night In
Year: 2021
Type: Album
Red Earth
Year: 2019
Type: Album
I Didn't Stand A Chance
Year: 2017
Type: EP

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