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Live Review: Ngaiire, Lanks, Jack Grace

24 June 2016 | 1:52 pm | Joey Davy

"...a guy in the crowd leans to his friend and says, 'It sounds like Beyonce!' He's spot on."

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The night begins with the sweet acoustic sounds of Jack Grace, who serenades us from the Northcote Social Club stage as if slow jamming in his bedroom after a long night out.

It's not often you see someone ripping through a guitar solo while working a laptop on stage, layering the loops before breaking out a flute solo! The instrumentalism and songwriting of Lanks' indie roots, then borrowing from electro, are not only outstandingly skillful but also refreshing. The whole set is heart-warming, the room so entranced as he finishes Hold Me Closer that the crowd looks around as if waking from an enjoyable daydream.

Ngaiire and her band arrive on stage donning rapper-style chains with oversized "Blast" pendants and an infectiously cheeky sass. The set opens with the one lone, low, distorted note of Novacaine, which goes on to showcase Ngaiire's rich, soulful voice as she moves between golden and raspy, majestic throughout.

The first few songs build the vibe of the room up quickly and Ngaiire's happiness to be here (that smile!) is as overwhelming as her sheer charisma. Christian Hemara and Billie McCarthy, Ngaiire's backup singers, share a special experience on stage — it can be heard in their perfect harmonies and seen in their love of every subtle, synchronised finger click and shake. Their presence is as captivating as Ngaiire's. As they begin Many Things, a guy in the crowd leans to his friend and says, "It sounds like Beyonce!" He's spot on, but before long we're shaken back to the true Ngaiire, with a downward key change and a simple, lyrically raw revelation of self.

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The show is taken up a notch yet again with the serious, grandiose Around before Ngaiire jokes with the crowd and then takes the microphone to sing directly to the front row. After announcing, "We're gonna do what we want," Ngaiire puts on a vocal show like few we've ever seen before on I Can't Hear God Anymore. House On A Rock pulls the crowd forward and all of a sudden we're dancing and belting out the lyrics as hard as Ngaiire herself. The show closes with the two songs that "changed everything" for the singer, Once and Diggin.

She encores with Fall Into My Arms, closing the night on the harmonic ballad that seems to be the singer's true love. An absolute delight.