Reviewed by Phillip Marshall
Hera graced the stage with a quiet confidence and surety in her performance. Her extensive touring and recording was evident in the strong delivery of her songs.
Hera’s Taylor 314CE cutaway guitar sounded bright and warm throughout the evening. Her playing was always solid, never detracting from the beauty of her lyrics or the subtlety in her vocal delivery. Most of Hera’s songs were accompanied with various plucking accompaniments on her guitar but she also showed great ompetency when using a driving strumming rhythm to support her more up-tempo songs.
Hera began the first set with a fun song called Sound Check before singing a song titled Sorry. This song displayed the beauty of her lilting voice and her ability to communicate emotions on a personal and universal level.
Angel By Her Side -– her brother’s favourite song – was another beautifully crafted tune and Fog Town (a Michelle Shocked cover) was well received by the audience. When singing traditional Icelandic tunes like Dalokofinn two things were immediately evident: first, Hera’s love and respect for her homeland and second, the simplicity and power of these songs to communicate with people of every race. Hera’s voice seemed to acquire a richer, mournful, wise quality when singing the traditional songs learned from childhood.
The first set was filled with other high quality songs including Adrian, Make-believe, Where is your Baby? and Nothing to Say. “Nothing to Say” was a great slap in your face break up song sung with a raw edge and brutal honesty.
The second set was full of highlights. Don’t Play This, according to Hera, the nastiest song she has written, was superb. Hera’s crystal clear lyrics were supported by a driving rock rhythm. Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now was delivered in a straightforward, unaffected manner.
A personal highlight for me was the song Here We Are. Hera’s voice was pure beauty and the bird sounds at the end of the song were beautifully entwined.
The songs Wings, Feathers in the Bag and Chameleon Girl showcased Hera’s ability to tell stories of personal experience and change through music. Itchy Palms is a great song. I thought Hera was at her absolute best during this song, relaxed, confident and with the audience in the palm of her hand.
Old Fashioned Girl and Dirty Old Town were both sung with a great sense of fun and enjoyment and it was good to see a performer not afraid to stop and change the key when it wasn’t working.
The Snowman is the only love song written by Hera, from the perspective of a broken hearted fifteen-year old. It was another example of her ability to communicate personal experience in song.
Hera finished the set with another traditional Icelandic tune and then The Devil in Me was requested as an encore. Hera let her voice go, showing real power and energy and this, combined with the driving rhythm of the Taylor guitar was pure magic. No one would have left the performance disappointed. Hera’s great enunciation and diction meant that the audience heard every word. Her repertoire of traditional, self penned songs and the occasional cover meant that there was something for everyone to enjoy and connect with. Thanks for a fantabulous evening. We are all pleased to have you living and performing in New Zealand.