Review: Acoustic Church Tour

Last updated 10:28 15/10/2012
Anika, Hollie and Boh

Anika Moa, Boh Runga and Hollie Smith are touring the country's churches.

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Auckland's Holy Trinity proved the perfect environment for the harmonious voices of Anika, Boh and Hollie - but it was a bit quieter than what the singers are used to.

"In bar tours everyone talks over us. In the church tour no-one talks at all. Please say something!" Boh Runga cried moments into the 90-minute set.

The 700-strong audience wolf whistled and cheered but soon fell back into the hush of an awe-inspired congregation.

The trio's emotionally charged, haunting melodies soared over the strum of acoustic guitars right from the opening number, Anika Moa's Running Through the Fire.

"Thank God that's over," she quipped afterwards, relaxing the crowd and her band.

"I hate wearing heels," Moa continued. "I didn't wear them the first night and it was like this," she demonstrated, squatting. "Hey, hey guys."

If Moa, on acoustic, is the group joker then Runga, on electric and bass guitar, is the ring leader.

The former frontwoman for pop/rock band Stellar took centre stage, energy pulsing through her voice, a no-nonsense attitude in her speech.

The antics of the group's youngest member, soul singer Hollie Smith, on bass, guitar and keys, made her the perfect goofy little sister.

"Was I born then?" she joked when Runga introduced a song from her Stellar days.

The girls' first released combined single Be Mine was a highlight, the high-energy pop tune sent soaring.

Runga's voice is perfect in powering out the catchy melodies of the trio's songs. Moa's sweet, soft soprano harmonies blend well and are rounded out with Smith's husky rich vocals. A sign of good things to come.

Yet to be released Like I Love You was a pretty example, charming the audience yet again into silence.

Accomplished drummer Tom Broome and keyboardist Godfrey de Grut added to the mix in the show's second half.

Smith, Moa and Runga are talents in their own right with 16 Tui Music Awards between them, but Wellington based 30-year-old Smith stole the show.

"I'm really nervous, she said before launching into a new song. "This is one we wrote together, we all did 'dibs, I'm not singing this one', but somehow I lost. It's quite difficult."

Her thick, sultry voice filled the cathedral and nerves or not, her notes sounded beautifully effortless.

Her rendition of I Will Do while seated at the keyboard, and encore number Bathe in the River which she dedicated to her newborn niece, were spine chillingly brilliant, with the latter receiving a standing ovation.

As with any group of talented, independent women, antics there were a plenty - from an impromptu version of The Bangles' Eternal Flame, to a 'tongue in cheek' group creation called Alone.

Gypsy, Sissy and Rehab they called themselves - "we wanted to have a really cool name like Kings of Leon". But indecision means that, for now, the girls will remain Anika, Boh and Hollie.


WHERE: Holy Trinity Cathedral, Parnell  

WHEN: October 12

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