Concert Review: Kerryn Fields – Wine Cellar June 19, 2020

With overseas artists out of the equation, at least for the time being, this is a perfect opportunity to catch Kiwi acts that you might otherwise overlook. I took that opportunity this past Friday night when Kerryn Fields performed at The Wine Cellar.

I’d never heard Kerryn, although she came highly recommended by friends (thanks Kendall & Chris). I’m so happy that I had the pleasure of seeing this self-styled Kiwi folksinger perform.

A little background on Kerryn in case, like me, you are not up to speed.

She’s from Te Kuiti, growing up in the King Country being struck down at age eight by an aggressive form of bone disease resulting in hip replacement surgery at age 12. Needless to say, spending so much time as a child dealing with doctors and hospitals has had an effect on Kerryn and that comes out in her show.

I feel I should point out that Kerryn is 6 foot 3 inches and currently lives in Melbourne. She was visiting family in New Zealand when the Covid epidemic hit and we are lucky enough to have her back.

Oh yeah, she has released on album, Rascal, recorded in a “bunker” in Melbourne and has won the songwriting award at last year’s NZ Country Music Awards for her song, Mamma. By the sounds of it, album number two is on the way.

This is all well and good, but can she entertain an audience on her own?

The 40+ people who showed up at Auckland’s Wine Cellar know that question should be answered with a resounding “yes!”

I mention those personal details of Kerryn’s because they become very much part of her show. With guitar in hand, harmonica around neck and hat on head she took the stage and proceeded to introduce herself to these potential new-found fans. It became evident almost immediately that this was a funny, self-deprecating, charming artist with plenty to say. I think she was on stage for five minutes before she got around to her first song.

That song was Nowhere Faster, the opening track to her album, delivered in a strong clear voice.

Kerryn describes herself as a “folksinger” and that she is, in the most traditional way…telling stories, singing songs and creating an indelible connection with her audience.

It wasn’t long before she had the “crowd” singing along with her.

“That was beautiful!” exclaimed one woman in the seats after the lovely ballad, Until You.

Along with songs about love, lost and found, trains and hitting the road…typical folk song fodder…there is the tune, Canadian Folk Music…a song about her surgeon. After a “la la la” singalong, Fields noted that, “We’re all folk singers and you’re never going to be rich”.

I don’t know if her on stage banter was rehearsed, but to these ears, she came across as completely fresh and in the moment.

There were plenty of songs, and quips about New Zealand. We heard the award-winning Mamma (including another spontaneous singalong) and then there was Fifteen, a new tune written about growing up in a shed, sounding very much like a tribute to her father…”my Dad still drives the old pick-up truck”.

With no other act on the bill, the pressure was on Kerryn to deliver the goods and she handled that challenge with ease. The show closed with two more new songs, the poignant Out On The Porch, a song about death that she had played for her dying godfather earlier this year…name checking Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson along the way. And then Atlantis closed the show, although I dare say we would have all liked to have heard more.

Te Kuiti is currently world famous for its sheep-shearing. With any luck it will also be known for bringing us Kerryn Fields.

Marty Duda

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

Kerryn Fields set list:

  1. Nowhere Faster
  2. Until You
  3. Canadian Folk Music
  4. Queen Of The Road
  5. Should I See You Again
  6. The Letter
  7. Mamma
  8. Fifteen
  9. Trains & Whistles
  10. I Know Where I’ve Been
  11. Out On The Porch
  12. Atlantis