It was a home-coming of sorts for Kimbra as she topped the bill at the Vector Arena that also featured Ruby Frost, Mt. Eden and The Black Seeds. Kimbra last performed in Auckland in January for the Big Day Out, but since then she has become an international sensation thanks to her debut album Vows and her participation on Gotye’s huge hit, Somebody That I Used To Know.
When I arrived at the Vector shortly after 8pm, I was afraid that Kimbra had over-estimated her drawing power…there were few cars in the lot behind the venue. As it turned out, there was a healthy-sized crowd in attendance, but this being an AUSA (Auckland University Students’ Association) event, most of the fans either walked or were too young to drive after dark.
The Black Seeds were on stage as I entered the Vector and they seemed quite comfortable in the large room. Most of the crowd was standing on the main floor, although there were plenty of folks scattered throughout the seats.
After a very enthusiastic intro by the MC, who referred to Kimbra as a “super star”, the local-girl-made-good took the stage along with her four-piece band. They started with a frenetic version of Limbo. The song featured Kimbra live, looped vocals. She sounded in good voice and she was a ball of energy, arms and legs flailing about. Her multi-coloured “rah-rah” skirt looked like it had been designed by Jackson Pollock.
Next came the slinky Good Intent before Kimbra exclaimed to the adoring crowd, “This is crazy!”
The moody Two Way Street followed complete with mesmerizing tropical fish swimming along on the five video screens above the stage. The various films, graphics and visuals were a nice addition to the production and they helped set off the songs and complimented Kimbra’s own stage presence.
Marigold, a new song, followed, featuring an excellent solo from guitarist Timon Martin. This was the same band that backed her in January. The sounded tight, looked good but never distracted from Kimbra.
After Call Me came Warrior, her latest single, recently written with Foster The People’s Mark Foster who she has been touring with in the States until recently.
A revamped version of Settle Down was next, a song Kimbra said she had written when she was 16 years old.
The evening rounded out with pumping versions of Cameo Lover and another new tune, Come Into My Head, an urgent pop-rocker that served as a fitting closer.
Kimbra’s nine-song set clocked in at just under 45 minutes, with no encore, which was a little disappointing. While it was cool to see her able to play a venue the size of the Vector, I think she would have been better presented in someplace like the PowerStation. The sound was a bit boomy at the Vector which rendered some of her songs rather generic-sounding.
But Kimbra herself has developed into an excellent performer. She’s got plenty of charisma and energy and her new songs sounded promising. It will be interesting to see if she can build on the momentum afforded her by Somebody That I Used To Know. The pop market is very fickle these days and easily distracted by the next big thing. She’s got her work cut out for her.