By: James Wilkinson
25 July, 2018, 19:21
Sometimes the old saying ‘less is more’ is apt and in the Trinity Centre tonight it could not be more so. The Naked and Famous gave us a concert that at times was spellbinding, uplifting and beguiling.
As befitting a night that was relaxed and chilled (we were seated) Scott Quinn strolled on in shorts and t-shirt. Later he posed the question if shorts were ok to wear on stage. (Jury still out.) Ignoring questionable sartorial choices, Quinn gave us a set of him, a keyboard and those songs.
Throughout he was as charming, open and self deprecating as his songs were subtle, heartfelt and enticing. Full of irresistible melodies, wrapped up in raw soul pop, it’s easy to see Quinn filling the airways. New single ‘Fallible Creatures’ a highlight alongside the impassioned ‘Youth’. With peers such as James Bay and Rag’n’Bone Man, Quinn could quickly become a bespectacled sensation.
Sensation is a word The Naked and Famous are used to hearing for around 10 years now. Tonight they had literally travelled for a day and a half from the otherside of the world. Not that you would know with such a spellbinding set. Only one of two UK dates supporting recent stripped back release, A Still Heart; expectations were very high.
Morphed from template of early Kate Bush, with a dash of Karen O, main vocalist Alisa Xayalith, shimmered in a kimono-esque crimson dress and a voice that would still Usain Bolt during one of his dashes. Tonight however was about the songs; no drums, just couple of guitars and a pair of synths. Alisa’s trusty foil Thom, all monochrome and one liners, brought out soundscapes from songs such as ‘Punching in a Dream’ and ‘ Young Blood’, that on record are buried deep. His playing throughout (bar a tuning moment) was a masterclass of finesse and style, oft recalling a restrained Edge.
A mid way break saw the two vocalists alone on the increasingly warm stage with just a trusted acoustic. We were told how they met at college, busked the streets of Auckland and Thom’s adolescent love for Nine Inch Nails and the Chili’s, influences that were long lost in TNAF music
Near impossible to pick a highlight as the set was simply one after another. Perhaps due to their unexpected nature, the two covers aired tonight, stood out for very different reasons. Introducing the first one, Thom almost blew it, but thankfully he did acknowledge that he was in Massive Attack’s hometown and ‘Teardrop’ was breathtaking. As pure and simply as the original, yet almost fuller due to Alisha’s jaw dropping vocals.
The second cover and evening’s closer originated from a drunken night of karaoke. Second keyboardist, Luna Shadows, stepped forward and took the a third mic for ‘I Wanna Dance with Somebody,’ yes the Whitney Houston classic. It was hard to tell who enjoyed it more – us, or the dancing band on stage. It was a perfect ending of a set that was full of grace, charm, a touch of magic and a whole lot of special.