Ashe – Powerstation: November 4, 2022 (Concert Review)

Ashe bounces on stage looking like a diminutive blondie Harley Quinn and packs in a masterclass of Golden Era pop. Almost twenty songs in just over an hour. You could say she was breathless after that. Hey, ghost of Jerry Lee.

Her first New Zealand show, and it’s true the room was packed with adoring teen girls who told her they loved her, frequently throughout the show. Genuine heartfelt emotion when she said Hey, just a girl from San Jose watching you sing all the words in faraway Noo Zealand!

Ashlynn Rae Willson said she grew up in Southern California listening to Christian music radio stations. Grandad pointed her to the Beatles, Dylan, and their peers. A graduate of Berklee College of Music, which of course is a mecca for the promulgation of American music in all its myriad manifestations.

At its heart, rock’n’roll is church music. From Pentecostal tent revival shows to the Black Southern Baptist preachers. The sinning bluesmen as well. Gonna be a preacher, so I don’t have to work.

It doesn’t take long to hear it. Me Without You opens with some drum thunder from Tim. But it has a violin putting in a little Eleanor Rigby. That is a female Morgan who also plays keyboards. A five-string bass is used, from Donny who switches throughout the night with electric and acoustic guitars as well. A super band behind her. They sound like the Beatles 1966 here.

Serial Monogamist is a real gem of a song. Saying bye-bye after you’re tired of lying to each other. It has a baroque pop complexity which is pure Brian Wilson Pet Sounds brilliance. Again from 1966.

Not Mad Anymore. A nice piano hook to begin and she sounds like a pop Stevie Nicks. The best songs never last for very long. Touche! That’s life, no one makes it out alive/ Not even Jesus Christ.

Riiki Reid

Riiki Reid is Raquel Aboline-Reid from Wellington. She has a confident stage presence and plays a style of indie pop which does remind me of an eighteen-year-old Benee, when I saw her for the first time.

She had a high school band called Retrospect, which was a finalist in the 2016 Smokefree Rockquest. She is also a dance choreographer and has a graceful fluidity of movement on stage.

High Heights is one highlight of her warm-up set. It has echoes of present-day Benee in style and vocal delivery. Smooth moves and glides like a Tesla. Tesla pop anybody?

Good Times is pleasant pop which builds up into a good dance workout.

One she calls Skin is a slower tempo ballad and she can sound like Ariana Grande. Just to show us her range.

At times the band manages the drone sound of Manchester Indie pop of the latter Eighties. Stone Roses and the guitar of Johnny Marr.

The City builds into a nice little raver driven by synth beats, to close her set.


She has talked about her love of Carole King’s music. The “e” on the end of her stage name is a little homage. Hope You’re Not Happy sounds like a classic Brill Building kiss-off song. Delivered in a nice hook-laden package. I hope you get angry about me/ I hope you’re not happy ever again.

At last, a riposte to the classic Goffin and King song, He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss).

Angry Woman goes after another classic, Lesley Gore’s You Don’t Own Me. Used to give a fuck, but I don’t now/ I’ll do whatever I like. It was an early feminist emancipation pop song. Ashe also ups the attitude.

There is a good version of Queen’s Somebody to Love. The bass guitar comes to the fore and leads it out.

Her own Save Myself is played in a grand bombastic Queen-style, complete with big drum rolls to begin the hostilities.

She takes a breather mid-show. Sits down and plays a medley of quieter songs, backed by acoustic guitar. They include Love is Letting Go and Love You Need.

San Jose is jazz influenced. Some soft pop rap lyrics and the keyboard and guitar interplay ends up in rhythm’n’blues to finish.

I loved it when she told us at the end that encores are bullshit. The last song is the last song. Secretly, many would agree.

Ashe closes her show with Fun While it Lasted. It’s a song of regret as it says goodbye. It was also a great way to end a night of masterful pop music. The Old Skool is still the New Skool. Let the church roll on!

Rev Orange Peel      

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