Solo debut a winner for Marlborough muso
A 17-year-old Blenheim musician put on a hauntingly beautiful performance to win Marlborough 2014 Stars in Your Eyes on Friday night.
Mitch Alderlieste scooped the $1000 prize as the charismatic Michael Hutchence from one of Australia's leading rock exports INXS.
Alderlieste, who is a performer on the Blenheim music scene, said it felt incredible to win the annual competition. "I was zoned out," Alderlieste said. "When I heard my name I thought ‘this is crazy', but it is very cool."
The guitarist said it was the first time he had sung solo.
"Two minutes before I went on stage I was freaking out but when those doors opened and I walked through the smoke it was all good. It was strange singing without a guitar, I didn't know what to do with my hands," he laughed.
The judges were overwhelmed with his rendition of the haunting By My Side. Alderlieste said he was confident he could pull off the late Hutchence.
"It look a lot of practice. I watched a lot of his performances, my main inspiration was a gig he played at Wembley Stadium in the early 90s.
"He was very expressive. There was a real lanky style to him but he was so smooth. When I chose to impersonate him I thought there will be people who knew him and for the others they would find out."
It is the first year Alderlieste has competed in the show. His win adds to his successful musical CV.
Earlier this year he played with The Exponents at the Classic Hits Winery Tour at Villa Maria in front of 1300 music fans.
As part of Blenheim rock band Arm the Reckless they won the Skinny Mobile People's Choice Award and played at the 2013 Smokefreerockquest in Auckland.
Alderlieste, who works at Ken Ham's MusicWorks, has been playing guitar for six years and is recording his debut solo album.
Stars in Your Eyes is the biggest annual fundraiser by Spring Creek Lions Club.
Alderlieste is donating his award money to Blenheim School's ICT department.
Manager of The Grapevine Backpackers Hayden Lawrence, 26, came second as Piano Man Billy Joel and Annabelle Lewis, 17, came third as British singer-songwriter Birdy. They donated their prize money of $750 and $500 to the Marlborough youth branch of the Asthma Foundation and Synergy Youth Mentoring.
The Marlborough Express