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  • Princess Chelsea - Gig Review: Princess Chelsea @ Neck Of The Woods, Auckland - 19/10/2023

Princess Chelsea - Gig Review: Princess Chelsea @ Neck Of The Woods, Auckland - 19/10/2023

20 Oct 2023 // A review by Lou Clement

Princess Chelsea began her international Everything Is Going To Be Alright tour, at Neck of the Woods in Auckland with a full house on Thursday 19 October. Bringing her 2022 album of the same title in its entirety to the stage, with her band Jasmine Balmer, Joshua Worthington-Church, David Harris, Joe Kaptein, Kate Tindall, and Simeon Kavanagh-Vincent. Support came from Louisa Nicklin.

Louisa Nicklin shared new songs as she prepared for release of her second album. The sampling of organ like droning was dark and matched by her disconcerting lullaby-like lyrics. I found myself thinking where was the centre of gravity in her music. By this I mean it is unsettling in its composition. She created a cinematic-like uneasiness, albeit in a vulnerable and personal way. She expressed a complexity of difficult feelings with influences of dirge-like hymns.


Dressed, in black with a delicate sheer embroidered cape and slicked backed hair, Princess Chelsea emerged through a crowd of musicians, on a tightly packed stage. She was like something from a gothic fairytale. Princess Chelsea called Everything Is Going To Be Alright her ‘nervous breakdown album’, Imogen Heap sang ‘there’s beauty in the breakdown’, and tonight was an evening of award-winning music. There was boldness, catharsis and freedom in the story, of this, her fifth album.


Highlights for me were real life percussion, gargantuan guitar solos and at one point a trumpet holding centre stage. If it was a painting it’d be a Fiona Rae. Princess Chelsea had said that it took her years to translate her vision of complex arrangements into live collaborative content. She makes every instrument work for its place in the song. Delicate percussion was given its moment, alongside brass instruments, and invariably with a drumbeat so exceptionally played, it just made me, and the audience, dance and applaud wildly. There was also a shower of petals and banter with the audience. The appreciation could not be contained in applause.

The crescendos of her album were rollercoaster like. It was crowd-pleasing for sure but up close the music was tightly played and fiercely delivered. When you hear something really good, you can’t help but lose yourself in it. My favourite was the defiant The Forest. I would liken it to a musical version of a firework display. "I run through the forest, I run through the hills" repeats, the drum beats like an indie classic, then the guitar shreds through a solo, nodding towards post rock influences.

I also loved the clock chiming inspired Time. Hearing this song live helps you understand the art of Princess Chelsea. It has the simplicity of a 60’s pop song and storytelling that makes this album not just about the breakdown but surefootedly about the new creations built from the ruins. Princess Chelsea continues her tour in North America and is back on home soil in January 2024 with performances taking place around the country.


Photo Credit: Jack Mensah
Louisa Nicklin Gallery

Princess Chelsea Gallery

 

About Princess Chelsea

The name Princess Chelsea started off as loving teasing almost 15 years ago. Her bandmates from Auckland’s Teen Wolf “were being sarcastic, because when we were on tour I was often looking really dishevelled, and they would joke that I was a princess.” Chelsea took on the princess title, and complicated it playfully. Hers is a partial yet whole-hearted embrace of femininity which emphasises the aesthetic labour of beauty, and unsettles it. In Teen Wolf she began working her classical training as a pianist into New Zealand’s underground music scene. Subsequently she lent this talent to indie pop outfit The Brunettes.

In 2011 Princess Chelsea’s full-length bedroom recorded debut, Lil' Golden Book, was released by local label Lil' Chief. A “musical fairy tale,” its songs follow her youth and coming of age in Aotearoa New Zealand. Baroque arrangements of nostalgic synthesisers and chamber pop instruments sometimes explode into psychedelia, layered over with innocent vocal melodies and lyrics. Chelsea’s debut defined her knowing poise and ornate synth-pop atmospherics and with its original release, Chelsea made a series of DIY videos which became YouTube hits. The Cigarette Duet video featured Chelsea in a pink wig and heart shaped sunglasses beside Jonathan Bree (The Brunettes) in a hot tub. Its viral popularity cemented her cult status and garnered attention in mainstream press. The Guardian named her “The new band of the day.” The video has made a resurgence on TikTok, pushing views over 75 million. But Princess Chelsea is more than an internet sensation. She has a steadily growing, loyal fan base spread around the world, to which she connects through touring and social media.

Lil' Golden Book was reissued for its 10th anniversary as a limited edition package in 2021. A golden vinyl was accompanied by a collectible A1 poster, reversible cover art, gatefold artwork with lyrics and a foiled golden spine. It is a love-letter from Chelsea to her dedicated fans. For some this will be nostalgic, for others a new chance to own the album.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Princess Chelsea

Releases

Everything Is Going To Be Alright
Year: 2022
Type: Album
The Loneliest Girl
Year: 2018
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
Aftertouch
Year: 2016
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
The Great Cybernetic Depression
Year: 2015
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
No Church On Sunday
Year: 2014
Type: EP
We're So Lost
Year: 2013
Type: EP
Overseas
Year: 2012
Type: EP
Too Fast To Live
Year: 2011
Type: EP
The Cigarette Duet
Year: 2011
Type: EP
Lil' Golden Book
Year: 2011
Type: Album

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