Bic Runga & Georgia Lines – Hamilton Gardens: March 2, 2024

Saturday night at Hamilton Gardens, the spectacular Rhododendron Garden served as the location for tonight’s festive performance featuring national treasure Bic Runga, with support from the multi-talented singer-songwriter Georgia Lines.

Here we are on the penultimate day of the Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival, a nine-day extravaganza of musical acts, public performances, theatre, and cabaret—the whole shebang. The Rhododendron Garden is packed with people who have settled in on picnic blankets and fold-out chairs for the evening. Tonight, I also had a special assistant—my 5 year old daughter Abby, a big lover of Bic Runga and a nightly fan of Bic’s “When I See You Smile,” waiting, watching, and anticipating that it makes the setlist tonight.

Georgia Lines

Georgia LinesFirst up tonight is Georgia Lines, winner of the Breakthrough Artist of the Year at the New Zealand Music Awards 2022. Georgia makes an entrance dressed in an outfit of pure psychedelia, and with a big smile, lights up the stage. Tonight, Georgia performs her latest song “Grow Old with You,” a bittersweet love song that draws in the listener, highlighting Georgia’s piano skills and dreamlike vocals. Georgia admits to being nervous, opening up about how terrifying it can be to put a song out into the world, saying, “When you give people your songs, they slot themselves into the song and find their journey.”

Georgia LinesBetween songs, Georgia happily chats with the crowd. She makes mention of being a teacher and invites the crowd in for a singalong, splitting the crowd in half to sing “I Was Made for Loving You.” I also loved Georgia’s cover of Bonnie Raitt’sI Can’t Make You Love Me,” where Georgia, a solitary figure on a giant stage, sings her heart out, with a smoke machine pumping mist into the night. Georgia personalizes her set by thanking the audience for coming to listen to her in her “giant living room.”

Georgia’s set begins at twilight, and with her final song , an amazing rendition of the Maori waiata “Hine e Hine,” the crowd now waits in darkness for Bic and band to enter the stage.

Bic Runga

Band members wait in the wings as Bic Runga enters the stage alone, dressed head to toe Bic Rungain white. With a quick greeting—”Look at you all tonight, this is fabulous!”—Bic, guitar in hand, launches into a solo performance of “When I See You Smile” to applause from the audience. Bic introduces her band, and it’s into everyone’s favorites: “Something Good,” “Precious Things.” Tonight, Bic jokes with the audience about how after ten years of folding laundry and filling the dishwasher, that she’s finally exploring new songs with a band and working up to a new album release.

Bic performs a new song, “Queen Street,” singing, “I’m walking on Queen Street; it whispers your name.” After the song, Bic laughs, “I’m just laughing because I don’t fold clothes; we live out of a basket that everyone fishes their stuff out of.” Bic performs new songs “She Left on a Monday” and “Listening to the Weather,” a song about a letter written to her dad while living in New York in the ’90s. Bic brings out a harmonica, punctuating the song throughout, with its sharpness.

Bic RungaThe mood darkens as the band begins “Beautiful Collision.” The deep bass bellows out into the darkness; the guitar solo draws out claps and whistles from the audience. Then it’s into “Bursting Through,” beginning with a drum solo, deep bass, and the soft slow keys from the keyboard, and Bic’s gentle plucking of strings as she sings, “All the lights have gone out, bursting through.”

The night draws to an end, Bic thanks the audience, “This is like a dream I had as a child, my middle-aged dream…white dress in the botanical gardens, an upright bass player…love it!” And it’s into “Sway,” which brings the house down.

Bic Runga and band crafted an incredible evenings performance, my favorite part, the best part in fact, was watching Abby watch Bic sing and play her favorite song.

Aaron Christiansen

Click on any image to view a photo gallery by Aaron Christiansen:

Bic Runga:

Georgia Lines: