Aldous Harding – Auckland Town Hall: October 26, 2022

Aldous Harding took over the Auckland Town Hall last night putting on a show that was equal parts brilliant and awkward. The 13th Floor’s Michael Grunfeld files this report.

(Photos by Chris Zwaagdyk)

Hōro ā-Tāone o Tāmaki Makaurau | Auckland Town Hall and in particular the huge pipe organ, lit in pink and blue, was the stunning backdrop for the Aldous Harding show. It was a cold Wednesday night outside but that didn’t stop her die-hard fans from turning up in droves.

Aldous is promoting her 4th album entitled Warm Chris released in March 2022.

H. Hawkline

H. HawklineThe crowd were warmed up by support act H. Hawkline, a young chap with a warm Welsh accent. He immediately started bantering with the audience as he switched on his impressive real-to-real tape recorder, pointing out that once the tape starts, he can’t stop it. He sat cross legged on his stool and played guitar to sing us his stories. His voice and the songs reminded me of The Devine Comedy. For his last song he went full karaoke, putting down his guitar as he started with the line “It don’t matter to me what passes me by”, and finishing with “I don’t want to be the last thing on your mind”. Nice!

Aldous Harding

Then Aldous Harding, wearing plain black with her hair pulled tightly back, and her four musicians (drums, bass, and two on keyboards) strode onto the stage. No chat and straight into Ennui, the first track on the Warm Chris album. Like an automaton with deliberate robotic small movements she appears to fix her gaze on individuals in the audience. Aldous Harding appears mournful and with a story to tell.

Aldous HardingShe continued to play all the rest of the songs from Warm Chris. I love the way she comes over as this slightly awkward but charming girl next door, looking for approval from her adoring audience. Her performance would be perfect set in a late night dive of a jazz bar in a David Lynch movie. It is impossible to take your eyes off her lest you miss one of her intense facial expressions or awkward movements. The reproduction of her delicate songs was perfectly executed down to the last “Hey!”. Sometimes being too perfect can seem sterile but Aldous is an artist painting pictures in music and song. Her stage show literally gave life to her songs.

Her musicians are clearly very accomplished and grab different instruments during the set. In Fever the drummer plays trumpet.

Aldous HardingFor Aldous it’s all about the show and her stage presence. You begin to realize that every move is deliberate and probably choreographed. Eventually she spoke to her fans “I can be fun, I can be loose” as she launched the seventh song of her set, the album title track Warm Chris. -A quiet acoustic guitar track interspersed with brief shocking power chords which were much more intense than on the recorded album version. Before starting song ten she announced “I’d like to do my hit now”. She sat at her piano and started playing a bar of Für Elise before launching into the very minimalistic Bubbles.

She did play a few tracks from her back catalogue. A particular highlight for me was her thirteenth song. She had just finished her cup of tea so she picked up the cup and started hitting it with a drum stick throughout the up-tempo Old Peel, which was released as a stand alone single last year.

The set finished with the last song on the new album. In Leathery Whip she plays with delicious accents and different voices. She was of course obliged to play two further tracks for her encore, Designer and Coming Round The Mountain.

Michael Grunfeld

Click on any image to view a photo gallery by Chris Zwaagdyk

Aldous Harding:

H. Hawkline:

Aldous Harding Setlist: