Marlon Williams with Melody & Aldous Harding

By Poppy Tohill

Artist:  Marlon Williams with Melody Pool & Aldous Harding

Date / Venue:  Saturday July 12th - Tuning Fork, Auckland

Auckland's Tuning Fork was filled to brim with people last night, all of whom were awaiting the magical presence and music of what proved an exceptional line up of fantastic musical acts, which includedLyttleton's recent striking stars Aldous Harding and Marlon Williams, and Australian powerhouse Melody Pool.

Aldous Harding was first to take the stage and spotlight. Perched on a stool with guitar in hand, she not only went on to warm up the crowd perfectly with her cheeky banter, but also managed to blow the entire audience away with her mesmerising vocals. Performing a selection of songs from her recently released self-titled debut album, including her popular hit song ‘Hunter,' which she went on to explain, "is my only song worth something-ish," (although I'm sure the audience would completely disagree with that) before she half serious and jokingly went on to state that, "you can see my ex-boyfriend looking devastatingly beautiful in the music video." Concluding her set, Harding put aside the guitar for a moment and belted out what was the most powerful and awe-inspiring version of Edith Piaf's ‘Non Je Ne Regrette Rien,' I have ever heard. Pronouncing and projecting every word with pure gusto, the audience were blown off their feet and I among many others were left speechless as she concluded and quietly departed from the stage.

Melody Pool was next to blow the audience away with her talent. Similar to Harding, Pool too was armed with a guitar in hand, performing a selection of beautiful alternative folk tunes from her 2013 debut album,‘The Hurting Scene.' Telling the audience of her experiences in New Zealand thus far, after admitting this is only her second show in the country and her first time visiting, the audience truly welcomed her with well deserved open arms. Songs, ‘Henry' and ‘Xavier' seemed to reign favourites amongst all as she joked "a lot my songs are people's names, but they're actually all about the same person. We don't like Henry very much." Headliner, Marlon Williams then joint Pool on stage to sing a duet of her tune ‘On The Morrow,' with their beautiful vocals merging together exceptionally.

With Williams waving through the crowd, making his way to the stage to sing duets with both Harding and Pool throughout the night, it soon came time for him to takeover the stage himself. Having been warmed up nicely by both opening acts, the audience proved more ready than ever for the raw, unique and exceptional sound that belongs to the country, bluegrass artist. His charming stage present as he chatted away to the audience, repeatedly thanking both Harding and Pool was heart-warming and kind as he kicked things off with a tune titled ‘That's All I Can Remember,' which he humorously described as "a great murder ballad." Quickening the pace of rhythm and bringing a touch of energy to the room with his next song, ‘I'm A Travelling Creature,' which he went on to tell the crowd he adapted from an old folk magazine. Again adorned with just a guitar in hand like those before him, his vocals remained the ultimate focal point throughout the much softer and slower, ‘The Lonely Side Of Her.'

With an impressive and unique vocal style that ranged from folk to country and bluegrass, his vocals throughout the countrified popular crowd favourite, ‘Single Girl Married Girl,' even contained a slight touch of opera style singing, as Williams went on to blow the crowd away with an incredibly strange but immensely intriguing sound, evolving from the longer notes.

Aldous Harding taking to the stage once more, joined Williams in singing, ‘Silent Passage,' a very old folk song from the 30's written by Bob Parker. Their vocals together merged beautifully, as Harding's sweet, melodic vocals stunningly echoed over the top of Williams, smooth, clean guitar and raw, emotive vocals.

Announcing he was going to play a bunch of old blues songs, Williams began with a remarkable cover of the classic ‘Cocaine Blues,' mid way through the song humorously reassuring everyone, "For what it's worth, I've never actually had cocaine," before continuing on.  Slowing the pace and volume once again, displaying his extraordinary vocal range and musical talent, finger picking a smooth, clear rhythm on guitar, Williams went on to perform, ‘When I Was A Young Girl.'

Before welcoming Harding and Pool back on stage for his final two songs, Pool joined Williams for an exquisitely emotional performance, which I noticed two girls at the back had begun slow dancing to. 

Then for his popular hit and undoubted crowd favourite and highlight for many, Harding and Pool both joined Williams on stage to help him out with the beautifully melodic and harmonious, ‘Strange Things.' With Harding and Pool remaining on stage, Williams drew his set to an end with a phenomenal version of The Everly Brothers, ‘Take A Message To Mary,' where the three of them huddled around the one microphone with Pool in the middle playing guitar, once again blew the entire audience of their feet.

Then departing from the stage, Williams soon returned giving in, in response to the audiences claps and cheers for an encore. Performing just two more songs, he again ended the night huddled around one microphone with both Harding and Pool delivering an immensely striking performance of the Kingston Trio's tune, ‘Allentown Jail,' with Pool's deep, haunting vocals leaving everyone in the room with goosebumps.

Obviously proving an immensely successful night filled with outstanding talent, the exceptionally attentive and appreciative audience and fantastic relationship visible between Williams, Pool and Harding also proved highlights of the night, as it was fairly clear the audience were not the only ones enjoying themselves.

My hat truly goes off to each performer of the night as they undoubtedly made the stage their own, delivering to immensely high standards, they should all be proud of.