2 Dec 2022

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Mel Parsons - Gig Review: Mel Parsons @ Hollywood Avondale, Auckland - 15/10/2022

16 Oct 2022 // A review by Roger Bowie

I’m slow on the lesson, I’m slow on the learn, getting into Mel Parsons has been a slow burn. Painting the fence got me started last November before her solo gig at Tuning Fork. There we got the promise of the new album and a tour with her band. Stepping up as we go. The album, as I have written, warrants five big stars. And now, finally Mel Parsons and her band are live on stage at the Hollywood Avondale, a magnificent venue arising from phoenix ashes, with acoustics to die for.

Where is everybody?

A modest but enthusiastic audience is all the lady needs to step up and launch into a most ironic song, because Failure is everything she is not, and it’s also the best seller off the album so far. It only takes two songs for the Lights to go on as we realise we are in for immaculate renditions of immaculate songs. Songs and renditions which deserve a full house, but Auckland has gone to sleep tonight. It’s a shame, but those of us who are here feel strangely special and privileged and that’s the way it shall stay.

All but one song from Slow Burn, a deep dive into Drylands and a sampling from Glass Heart comprise the 19 song set delivered in two parts. Oh, and a new song, opening the second set, a rare reference to things private and a reveal that there are four, not three tiny souls at home living Tiny Days. Makes a tour seem like a holiday.

Mel Parsons writes and sings and doesn’t explain. She doesn’t need to. We can work it out. Except when she goes back to toxic days and advises us Don’t Wait, don’t waste our time on blue, tonight with Cousin Jed on harmony during the few songs she is alone on stage. But that was then, this is now, and be in no doubt, despite a Slow Burn, Mel has never had joy like this before. And it shows, in her smile, in her light-hearted banter, in her Beyonce inspired half-time change of attire, in her very essence. Mel Parsons is in a state of grace, and we are the beneficiaries.

A state of grace, except when it’s not. Except when the band kicks in, and out and cuts loose. When there’s a spark which we can’t deny. With producer Josh Logan on eclectic electric and melodic and sometimes moody, jazzy piano (Headland) and a rhythm section comprising two established recording artists in Thomas Isbister on bass and aforementioned Jed Parsons on drums, this unit is tight and hot, and Mel moves from Lucinda Williams to Ryan Adams and just rocks and the Hollywood becomes a stadium.

Which sings along to Far, Far Away and roars in delight in the Darkness before the false ending and the obligatory return to a stripped back Just Because You Don’t Want Me which is rubbish because we do! And then the band are back on for a rousing Tired of Being You which is all Courtney Barnett, or maybe it’s the other way round, but it’s also not true because we are certainly not going to get tired of Mel Parsons being Mel.

Rikki Morris comes out of hibernation to man the sound deck and it shows. Immaculate songs played immaculately, creating immaculate, absolute sound.

Mel Parsons and her band are world class. Where the fuck are you, Auckland?

Set List:

1. Failure

2. Lights    

3. Slow Burn 

4. I Got the Lonely

5. Still Got Time

6. Non Communicado

7. Carry On

8. Going Under

9. Get Out Alive

10. Tiny Days

11. Don’t Wait

12. Driving Man

13. Headland

14. Come Over Lover

15. Already Gone

16. Far Far Away

17. Darkness

18. Just Because You Don’t Want Me

19. Tired of Being You

Photo Credit: Chris Zwaagdyk / ZED Pics
View the full gallery here


About Mel Parsons

Well recognised as one of New Zealand’s established songwriting stars, indie-folk singer songwriter Mel Parsons’ star is on the rise. Following the success of both her debut album Over My Shoulder in 2009, and sophomore offering Red Grey Blue in 2011, Parsons released her third full length record Drylands in 2015.

The Kiwi singer/songwriter and two time NZ Music Award (VNZMA) finalist for Folk Album of the Year, has released the first single from Drylands – the gutsy & rhythmic audience favourite originally performed with Fly My Pretties, Far Away. With a dynamite live show, solo or with her band, Parsons is an engaging performer with a natural emotive voice that allows the listener to become part of the story.

With home as a hotel room and a suitcase, Parsons has built up her fan base the old fashioned way – winning over audiences on the live circuit. The only New Zealand artist invited to showcase at Folk Alliance International in Kansas City, USA in 2014 & 2015, Parsons has also had recent tours in Australia, UK, Ireland, and Germany. She is also a cast member of Kiwi musical collective Fly My Pretties, with tours and festival performances including the prestigious Byron Bay Bluesfest at Easter 2015.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Mel Parsons


Slow Burn
Year: 2022
Type: Album
Year: 2015
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
Red Grey Blue
Year: 2011
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
Over My Shoulder
Year: 2009
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape

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