Aurora – The Powerstation: March 3, 2023 (Concert Review)

Aurora

Aurora – Norwegian pop sensation, performed at Auckland’s Powerstation. The 13th Floor’s Robin Kearns and David Watson were on the scene!

Arriving in to the sold-out Powerstation the youthfulness of the crowd is palpable. A Norwegian flag hangs from the upstairs railing. And a long line for the merch desk stretches the width of the venue.

Blusher

First up is Blusher. The band’s three members bounce on stage with songs of love and its denouements performed with gusto and an astonishing synchronicity of movement.” We’re Blusher like the make-up and we’re wearing it”.

How would you describe their style, I ask a young woman near me  ‘Girlpop’ was the instant reply. Haim-like, perhaps, but something else with impressive dance moves and comedic affectation. Fast beats, electric synths, theatrical gestures (hip-shakes, arms in the air, fingers run through hair).

The crowd loves it. A lockdown band, apparently. They formed via zoom.  Intense screaming at corny gestures like donning sunnies or fist-punching the air. Clear and unsubtle talent. Crowd-pleasing openers.

Aurora  

The screams and cheers as Aurora walks on stage following her band (drummer, guitarist, keyboardist, backing singer) feel a few decibels louder than the music ever gets. She seems visibly moved at the reception.

Aurora Aurora (full name Aurora Aksnes) from Stavenger, Norway) occupies a large disc of projected light, at first as silhouette. She’s touring The Gods We Can Touch, her third studio album. Her mix of mannered and spontaneous stage presence is on display from the outset.

Aurora’s style has been variously described as electro-pop, folk-pop, art-pop, synth-pop, and electro-folk.  Always a hyphen, it seems. She is a connector of styles, creating something new.

A friend tells me she’s been influenced by Enya. Maybe a little of Kate Bush and Bjork too. But speculations are superfluous tonight as this charismatic 26 year old dynamically fills the stage. She channels no one but herself and the gods we all can touch.

Her voice is simply astonishing for its range and power. Were it not for the at-times loudly  appreciative crowd one could be transported to the silence of the Norwegian fiords or coniferous forests by her octave dancing vocals.

She sings with a rare clarity. For a moment I was reminded of the crispness of fellow Norwegian Jan Gabarek’s saxophone playing, at another, I heard snatches of Gregorian chant.  Her songs simply soar.

And in between the banter delights. She went to Waiheke, we are told, and “it’s a long time since I walked and got lost and felt safe. My soul felt wonderful there”.

She introduces the beautiful Blood is in the Wine with “This is a song about our capability of saving each other and making the world a place we deserve”. A redeeming message particularly apt on the day of a School Climate Strike.

She sings “I was given a heart before I was given a mind”. Believable. She began writing songs at six. And probably started dancing even younger. She moves at times with grace, at others in a frenzy; always in a way that complement the feel of a song.

This is no concert in the sense of audience just watching performer. This is a love-in with no hippies in sight. The warmth between stage and floor is palpable. “I need to take a breather”, she says. “Please say hello to each other”. The house lights go up a little. The faithful comply. She activates currents of power connecting people at the Powerstation tonight.

“I’m getting better at telling my friends my pain” she says before singing Infections of a Different Kind, a song replete with rhetorical questions (“if there is a God, would we even know his name?”). There may be doubts within especially her generation, but there is reassurance in the solidarity of song.

And there’s love for New Zealand. She holds two soft-toy kiwis, saying this is her first ever show here. “Its good to lose my virginity with you all”. Screams of delight. Exist for Your Love, she sings, beautifully in synch with her vocalists.

Her most best-known song, Runaway has the crowd on her side, singing along “take me home where I belong”. And a clearly moved Aurora seems have found something of a home away from home here. “You have made a great impression on my heart” she says. Easily said glibly, perhaps, but this young woman exuded sincerity.

A stunning show of song, dance and tightness of delivery, from a gentle soul whose smile seemed as wide as the line to the merch desk. As in the title to her final song, Aurora seemed to genuinely be Giving in to the Love.

Robin Kearns

Click on any image to view a photo gallery by David Watson

Aurora:

Blusher:

 Blusher setlist

Dead End
Limelight
Time to Pretend
About You
Softly Spoken
Hurricane Chaser
Backbone

 

Aurora setlist

Forbidden Intro
Heathens
The Blood is in the Wine
Infections of a different kind
The River
All is Soft Inside
Daydreamer
Exist for Love
A Potion for Love
Runaway
Churchyard Intro
The Seed
Queendom
Running with the Wolves
Cure for Me
Giving in to the Love

 

Robin Kearns