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Hollie Smith - Gig Review: Hollie Smith @ One One Six, Whangarei - 4/11/2023

05 Nov 2023 // A review by Hannah Jane

Hollie Smith made a low-key entrance to the stage for her solo and intimate evening of music in Whangarei last night.

There was a relaxed and casual vibe to the sold-out show, and the crowd responded well to Hollie’s candid delivery. As promised, Hollie invited the audience into a behind-the-scenes look into her song writing process, sharing stories from one song to the next.

Hollie spoke of loss and longing, breakups and mid-life crisis along with the apocalypse and elections… she seems to have created a dozen songs of it, albeit raw and unfinished.

She joked about it being a breakup album – that it worked for Adele so why not.

She spoke of covid, and the subsequent shift in New Zealand music, wondering how viable it is anymore due to an artist still needing to eat - and of sacrifices made for art, saying "ambition is like chasing the dragon."

A great social commentary piece could be written on this alone.

Each song was introduced and explained in detail, which meant the evening didn’t flow as a concert, but it seems that wasn’t Hollie’s intention, rather that she was offering a rare insight into her craft.

Her first song Fine Lines – a song about familial ties, was about how people who know you so well can completely destroy you with one sentence. This was followed by Grass Is Greener, which was about fancy friends living ‘Instagram-worthy’ lives around the world and leave you wondering about your own life choices.

Warm and intimate, Hollie openly invites you into her thoughts, self-doubt and struggles – which feels both low-key and very Kiwi.

Nothing’s Spoken is a song written after the death of a friend was written on guitar and Hollie revealed as such may be lost in translation tonight. Whatever it was, her words are heartfelt.

There was a somewhat angry breakup song about boundaries, and lines in the sand broken, and deep regrets. "Leave me barren, while you drink my wine".

Poignant words followed by an explanation of how life happened, covid happened - grieving the fact she can’t have kids and musing on the sacrifice of ambition. Interesting discussion.

My favourite song of the evening was When Days Were Better – a song lamenting meth and all of its soul-destroying ills. The chorus melody was lovely.
"Wish we could go back to the start, when days were better".

Musically, these songs were all played by Hollie on piano tonight - just the bare bones as the tour title implied, so it will be really interesting to hear how Hollie’s band transform them into an album.

Fireworks cut through the show just before the finish, but that didn’t deter Hollie who simply weaved the loud explosions into her narrative.

The final songs of the evening Be A God, and Message In A Bullet were reflections on media and politics, with references of clickbait and sharks circling their prey - leaving Hollie wondering, "Can there be a quiet revolution".

Much of what she shared tonight felt like a therapy session, which isn’t for everyone, but it resonated well with the audience - some of whom gave Hollie a standing ovation at the end.

Folk I spoke with afterward expressed gratitude for the privilege of witnessing such a great artist at work, and joy in the fact one of our national favourites included Whangarei into her tour.

Whangarei will welcome Hollie Smith back anytime!

Photo Credit: Chris Zwaagdyk / Zed Pics
Photos are from Hollie's Leigh Sawmill show on 3 November.


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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