Alice Phoebe Lou breezed into Auckland, had a good nap and then charmed a room full of attentive fans at The Tuning Fork into swaying and singing along to her songs.
It’s Tuesday night and apparently things start earlier at The Tuning Fork. Most of the fans got the memo… I did not, so when I arrived at 8:15, opening act Molly Peyton was well into her set. The London-based Kiwi was just starting her single, Handle, setting the mood for what would be a lovely evening of what’d I’d call ‘emo-folk’.
When Molly wraps, the vibe in the room….mostly full, not quite a sell-out… feels chilled and easy. Alice and her band shamble on stage, almost unnoticed, as they shuffle around.
“Give me a few moments”, asks Alice as she clutches a bouquet of flowers while strapping on her guitar.
Finally, everyone is ready and Alice tells us, “Let’s have a sweet, cosy evening together”.
And that’s just what we do.
Keyboard player Ziv Yamin lays down a jazzy groove and the 90 minute set begins with Only When I from 2021’s Glow album.
What becomes immediately obvious is that Alice Phoebe Lou possesses an exquisite voice, sounding to these ears like a cross between Darlene Love and Joni Mitchell, which is perfectly suited for the music she and her band make…a mix a folk and pop with a hint of jazz.
It’s Alice’s first time in New Zealand and she’s clearly thrilled to be here after a ‘gruelling’ string of dates in Australia. Her stage banter is easy-going and fun. She tells us, “you’re seeing the most laid-back version of me” as Alice had the rare pleasure of sleeping until 12:30pm, then strolling around Auckland, admiring the trees.
“Chilled” is indeed the watchword here.
The second selection is Touch, a very popular 2020 single backed with Witches which we’ll hear later. Touch features the most memorable lyric of the evening…’I wanna give you all I’ve got, til my body begins to rot’.
Speaking of Touch, there seems to be quite a bit of touching sprinkled throughout her most recent songs. Alice makes a point of telling us that she only wants to sing songs that mean something to her now, even if that means possibly disappointing fans. To be honest, that little spiel seems a bit self-serving, but I don’t think it was taken that way by most in the crowd.
If there is one aspect of tonight’s show to be critical about, it’s that pretty much all of the songs we hear deal with conflicted emotions and feelings of unattainable love and intimacy and these feeling all tend to occur late at night.
Mother’s Eyes finds our hero ‘getting stoned alone’…”I want you, but I don’t want you to be mine” Alice sings (quite beautifully).
On Glow she’s dancing with herself and on Me And The Moon she’s alone at night again, wondering ‘ Should I stay alone, or call you up?’
A little diversity in the subject matter would go a long way.
The band, led by producer David Parry on guitar, leaves the stage after eight songs and Alice holds down the fort alone, beginning with a new tune called Hammer, a wistful, delicate number that holds the audience spellbound.
“I could hear a pin drop, man!’ Alice exclaims.
The band, also featuring Kiwi drummer “Ben” (didn’t catch his surname) returns for a rousing final set beginning with a sultry Lover//Over The Moon and wrapping with Witches, which elicits screams from some in the crowd.
By this time Alice is positively glowing, clearly enjoying the audience, the venue, the vibe and that sleep-in.
Just before Dirty Mouth, Ziv drops into a Riders On The Storm groove and we get “our last song for real.”
For real, it’s been a lovely, chilled evening and it feels like everyone leaves as friends. No doubt there will be some touching going on later.
Click on any icon to view a gallery of photos of both artists. Photos by Veronica McLaughlin.
Alice Phoebe Lou
Alice Phoebe Lou set list:
- Only When I
- Mother’s Eyes
- Me And The Moon
- If You Were Here
- Something Holy
- Velvet Mood
- Lover//Over The Moon
- Heavy//Light As Air
- Child’s Play
- Dirty Mouth
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