By Pauline Hunt
Date / Venue: Friday April 25th, Vector Arena, Auckland
With names like Joss Stone & India Arie to headline a concert, there was no doubt in my mind that this was going to be a show like no other. Having not one but two great soul artists to perform for us in our country with their beautiful voices was a true blessing in itself. Jocelyn Eve Stoker aka Joss Stone is an English soul singer-songwriter and actress. Her album ‘The Soul Sessions' which helped rise to fame topped the UK for one with her single on the album ‘You Had Me' in the top 10. India Arie is not an unfamiliar name in the music soul business. She is also a Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter, musician & record producer, & has sold over 3.3 million records worldwide. With these credits on their CV's, your guaranteed for a night of true soul music.
First to treat our ears with live music and exceptional vocals is the wonderful Ms Joss Stone. Walking onto the stage in true form with her bare feet and look comfortable in jeans and a singlet, she starts the night off with her record ‘The Chokin' Kind', and quickly made her point that she did not come to muck around but to treat the audience with her killer pipes. She would take time in between her records to interact with the audience, then would continue on to perform records like ‘Super Duper Love', ‘Right To Be Wrong' and ‘You Had Me', all while dancing around on stage and looking like she was having the time of her life, and the audience loved it. Before leaving us in the capable hands of India Arie, she performed her record ‘Music' as a dedication to her passion and love for the art.
Joss Stone is such a true artist and an amazing performer live. You would think that you were listening to her at home on your mp3, and vocals gave you chills. Her live band was also fantastic and grooving along with Ms Stone and the rest of audience. Her positive and fun energy had rubbed off on the audience as they were singing and dancing along with her as well as having a great start to an exciting night. She had us on a high and waiting in anticipation for what the next soul artist was about to bring on stage. India Arie.
Intercession time had come as the stage had to be rearranged and be ready for when India Arie entered came on, a bit of a longer intercession than planned as Ms Arie's flight was also delayed coming in from Australia. After much anticipation, it was finally time (and for the first time) for our ears to get treated by the beautiful talents of India Arie. Looking like a true African queen, wearing an all white dress made by her mother, she entered the stage and you could hear from the audiences' reaction that the night was now about to get even better. Like a woman who is true to her, she apologised for the delay on coming onto the stage and wanted to explain to us the reasons why she and her band were late. They had been awake since 5am Australian time and when they got to the airport, they had been told that their flight was delayed for 3 hours, and as well as that, she had received an email which did not have some great news for her. Sometimes I wonder how these artists do it. She then went on to say that she would try her best and to bear with her, as she does not know what will happen.
The first record she was starting her set with was from her latest album that was released in 2013 ‘I Am Light'. As she struggled to sing through it, near the end, she got upset and had to leave the stage. In the meantime, her keyboard player did his best to keep us entertained as India Arie was trying to re-gather herself so she could perform to the best of her ability. 5 minutes or so had passed, and she had made her presence aware again, and apologising also, but like a true artist, she continued with the rest of the record and she sounded beautiful. After taking a few deep breaths, she performed her version of ‘This Little Light of Mine' as well a version of the chorus for ‘Royals' from our very own ‘Lorde', she was back. On her record of‘Break The Shell', throughout her performance she asked the beautiful NZ artist ‘Maisey Rika' to join her on stage. She sung some of her verse in Maori and then together with India Arie. You wouldn't think that this was the first time that these 2 artists had met by they way their voices had blended so well. The rest of her set, she performed her hits such as ‘Video' and ‘There's Hope' then continuing on with records from her latest album such as ‘Flowers', and the theme for her album ‘Soulbird Rise' to which her mother had joined her on stage. Ending the night, she performed her well known hit record ‘Brown Skin' to which was a crowd pleaser.
Even though India Arie had arrived in tears on stage, she left with a full heart and an audience that were happy to have her seen her perform live. There's definitely no doubt that she hasn't lost her gift and talent, says she will continue to write and perform as an artist who is true to themselves. Auckland had been treated to a wonderful night of soul and live music, and from what I could hear from my fellow neighbours around me, they loved it, and was not disappointed