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Kaylee Bell - Gig Review: Kaylee Bell @ James Hay Theatre, Christchurch - 7/05/2023

09 May 2023 // A review by Peter K Malthus

I had a fantastic seat for this show, smack bang in the middle and a few rows back from the front. Absolutely perfect spot for viewing and listening. Being a chap who's not only attended, but also played, plenty of rock/metal/punk shows, I was surprised and intrigued (and not a little bit miffed) by the lack of amplifiers and other accoutrements onstage (I'm a guitar nerd and love geeking out over that stuff). However the size of the PA system, the clouds languidly rolling over the stage from the smoke machine, and the well-positioned lights made it clear that this was going to be a show worth watching.

First up was rising star Cassie Henderson. This was my first experience of Cassie, and she was slick and professional from the get-go. Strong and confident onstage, utterly in her element, she swiftly had the capacity crowd hanging on every word. I'm someone who has physical and strong emotional reactions to music. Cassie's second song was a new one, and full of attitude. When she really opened up her superbly pitched voice, I had goosebumps, and was close to tears. I adore listening to excellent singers, and that's precisely what Cassie is. She had the whole crowd with her, as she covered the song Mean by her hero and inspiration Taylor Swift. A short but sweet set saw Cassie leaving the stage to well-deserved rapturous applause.

After a brief intermission, it was time for Kaylee Bell. She and her band (Corban Kuhtze (drums), Trevor Warman (bass) and Aaron Prictor (guitar) took to the stage adorned in all-white outfits with tiny splashes of colour, Kaylee herself in a custom made suit. My guitar nerd leanings were satiated, matching white Fender Telecasters and Precision bass making me unashamedly drool with envy. Kaylee ably displayed every bit of her consummate professionalism. Kaylee's band were tight and solid, tasty and subdued. The lead guitarist was an especially lovely player, I really dug his solos, and he also had an excellent singing voice. The bass player and drummer were all smiles and energy.

However it was Kaylee we were there to see. Man, I'm so glad I got to go to this show, it was a privilege and a treat. The entire crowd clearly adored her. Kaylee hails from the small Canterbury town of Waimate... and, so do I. I actually did nostalgically tear up a little when she spoke of, and then sung about my birthplace, and she won my heart forever in that moment. Every second of that show was delivered flawlessly, with passion and joy. Kaylee and her band are clearly very comfortable together, and they all seemed to be having a great old time. By the end of the show, I was up dancing with everyone else. However, I'm not sure what I was doing when Kaylee issued instructions for the dance moves to her hit song Boots 'n All, but I obviously wasn't listening. Everyone managed to quite happily follow along, apart from one black-clad tattooed dork who wasn't paying enough attention.

Kaylee, your show was top-notch, your band was superb, and it was fantastic to see a fellow Waimo doing so extremely well. I hope I get to see you play again, sometime. Thank you for having me.

Photo Credit: Alec Huisman
Photos are from Kaylee Bell's first Christchurch show on 6 May

Kaylee Bell Photo GalleryCassie Henderson Photo Gallery


About Kaylee Bell

Kaylee Bell is an artist who has already proven her international appeal having won over fans in her homeland of New Zealand and now doing likewise in Australia. Testament to this is her Gold Guitar - New Zealand’s highest accolade for country music - and her most recent crowning glory as Australia’s 2013 Toyota Star Maker.

Following her experience at the CMAA College of Country Music in 2009, 24-year-old Kaylee, from the little town of Waimate on New Zealand’s South Island, went home and set about making plans to “cross the Ditch” and carve out a career for herself.

In 2011, she did just that and, on completion of a Bachelor in Performing Arts majoring in musical theatre, in Christchurch, packed up her life and headed solo to Australia for the pursuit of success.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Kaylee Bell


Silver Linings
Year: 2021
Type: Album
Heart First
Year: 2013
Type: Album
Year: 2010
Type: Album

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