By Christina Croucher
Artist: Kina Grannis
Date / Venue: Saturday July 12th - Wintergarden, Auckland
Not many Aucklander's know of the Wintergarden; the humble but just as elegant venue downstairs of the main stage at the Civic Theatre. It was a perfect location for an intimate performance from two complimentary singer songwriters; Lydia Cole from our home shores and Kina Grannis from the USA.
Lydia Cole charmed the audience with her quirky demeanour and personable stage presence. Her organic nature is heard through her natural tone and the way she speaks to you as she sings. Accompanied purely by her guitar she never competes for volume but sways to and from the microphone creating a steady stream of sound. She has a Bodhran drum like humming beneath her soft voice. Lydia's singing and song writing represents New Zealand music beautifully.
Kina Grannis made her way back to New Zealand with her husband and accompanist Jesse Epstein to play us some songs from her newly released album Elements. Kina Grannis spent some time in Dunedin studying 8 years ago, which she explained to the crowd was a completely different time of life for her. She enjoyed her student days busking in Dunedin's crevices singing for her lunch money down tight alleyways and in front of supermarkets. Kina said if it wasn't for the internet she would have never been able to build the audience beyond her small gigs and busking days and is thankful for the worldwide connection it has enabled for her music. Her New Zealand fan base were ecstatic to see her; between every song were conversations swayed between Kina and the audience; words of admiration screamed toward Kina and a lot of generous conversation back.
She opened with Oh Father off her new album, portraying the country, folk and rock influences you hear through her music. Kina's passion stirs through her vocals; her sweet, country toned voice washed over the audience faultlessly throughout the set. Her set was very organic, simply executed by her and her acoustic guitar, Jesse doing very soft backing harmonies and playing electric guitar. She predominantly led the majority of the songs, apart from a duet cover of Team (Lorde). They did it stunning justice and after hearing I think he should have a bit more microphone time during their live performances as they created a beautiful depth together.
Though depth Kina is definitely not lacking; Forever Blue written of her Grandfathers passing was powerful. I found it the standout performance of the night in terms of raw emotion. She went from whispers to belt within the song, dynamically carrying the listener through an intimate story.
She would often explain the story behind her songs; Winter was one she wrote while looking at Death Flowers at a writing retreat, the song came to her while she was watching them and made her cry. This story shows a glimpse of how in touch she is with her creativity and music; this is heard by the truthful way her songs flow from her on stage.
Her songs are directed by her emotion, the way she floats into softly placed falsetto always comes at the right time, and then the depth comes where needed. She seems to travel back into the place her songs are from and because of this her audience gets an honest performance; isn't that what makes a great musician? I think so.
She is an inspiring artist who has worked hard to be able to do what she loves to a worldwide audience; her humble gratitude for her fans is great to see. It was a show that left you feeling uplifted and genuinely happy for the singer songwriter that has created a great life for herself.