Concert Review with PHOTOS: Wallis Bird

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By Wal Reid

Artist: Wallis Bird

Date / Venue: Friday March 22nd, 2019 - The Tuning Fork, Auckland

Irish Musician Wallis Bird has one mandate: To try and not break a string during her performance. After witnessing her show last night, it’s a feat easily said than done. The petite Irish singer/songwriter plays with the power of a tight five scrum pack coupled with the vocals of an untapped Janis Joplin. At times her playing is subtle, giving way to melodic bliss and then is flipped on its back, a barrage of musical discord – it works of course. And, all this playing left-handed.

Now living in Berlin, it was Bird’s first time visiting our fair shores, and she was only too keen to chat with the animated audience. The lurid details of family holidays sleeping with her “Ma & Pa” was an endearing insight, as she strode the stage guitar in tow, a lonely keyboard and a pile of pedals angled towards the ceiling of the intimate dark venue hall.

Traipsing the stage in her platform “shit kickers” and lively patterned tights, her shaved platinum blonde coiffeur bobbing on stage, or as her Mum described it, “Fucking horrible”. She was a banshee unleashed upon an unsuspecting audience. Older songs like the energetic Control or The Circle cradled the audience in its hypnotic swing, as whoops flew from the crowd she pulled back the pace on Seasons adding, “John Mayer is next door practising, it’s true,” while snidely remarking “If you could keep up John that would be great, there’s a solo in the middle.”

Much to her credit, her energetic gait, endless grimacing (her friend Tracey had a job fixing those broken guitar strings) and interesting stories thrown in for good measure, saw Bird by the end of the night becoming an acquaintance to all in attendance. She got us to sing on That Leads The Way, the crowd also doing a solid job of providing finger clicks on one of her songs. Laurie Anderson styled vocals on her accapella Home provided much needed respite from the frenetic pace, while her two friends Tracey & Aidan joined her on the penultimate song, the hauntingly lucid In Dictum. The connection had been made. Happy to play on all night but The Tuning Fork curfew was kicking in, a Wallis Bird gig could only be finished with To My Bones - a roof raising ode to life.

Anyone who can passionately shred her guitar strings is a force to be reckoned with. Lucky for us Bird’s honesty, cheekiness and raw emotion shines through, cutting through to sinew & bone. She can wax lyrical with the best of them, but it’s her music and guitar playing I liken to a rebirthing experience but without the weird laughing bits. If you want a genuine connection with artist and music then you can look no further than Wallis Bird. Better still, if live.