Concert Review: Rachel Leo at Anthology Lounge, 25 June 2021

A leisurely walk through K-Road’s bustling Friday night happenings eventually led to the Anthology Lounge for Rachel Leo and her single release gig. Opening for her were Avya and Honeybee, both acts that have been travelling around the music-scene grapevine for a short while now.


Avya started the night off with a short and sweet set of only three songs. Sitting on a stool with an electric guitar, she confided that she was “So sick of playing the same songs that make her comfortable”, so she launched into some new tracks that she described as being “super fresh”.

Her clean jazzy, yet bluesy vocals just cut through the crowd chatter enough to hear her. Songs about love fit well into the pure pop niche. I can see why she did well on the TV show posters very recently.


HoneybeeTom Misch played over the speakers whilst Honeybee set up, setting the tone for some groovy tunes. All four members were rocking the indie look and didn’t fail to match it with their clean indie sound.

Ambient melodies with slow builds blended the first two songs together and man, do they look like they’re having fun! Delayed vocals bounce around the concrete room, and beautifully clean tom fills by Harrison Roper get the back-of-the-room-dwellers interested in creeping closer to the stage.

It only got groovier as the set went on, and they covered Señorita by Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello and American Boy by Estelle, amongst many well-crafted originals. Finishing with their song Fired Up, they sure left the crowd fired up and ready to boogie their way through Rachel’s set.

Rachel Leo

Rachel LeoIn matching flares and top that look like a tie-died ocean, the crowd cheers as Rachel introduces herself. She seems genuinely stoked to be on stage, and this is contagious. She starts small and slow with Jack Belton on electric guitar behind her before Harrison Roper on drums and Lizzy Kulasingham on bass enter with a groovy beat as the song picks up momentum.

Despite not being able to see much due to the immense amount of tall people in front of me, it still sounded good and her sassy second song Still Love Me got the whole audience swaying side to side.

For her next song The One Rachel switched to keys, changing up the feel of the set.

One of the speakers seemed to cut out halfway through the fourth song, but it was admirable how she continued at the same energy level regardless. The show must go on! About 30 seconds later, it came right back on, and there were many cheers of approval from the audience.

The last time I saw Rachel perform was during a university workshop where she seemed a little unsure of how to hold herself on stage, so to see her dancing so much and holding the crowd’s attention well was impressive.

I don’t think she has performed a show in a couple of years, which explains the energy and pure happiness that she bought to the stage and explains why so many people came out for this performance.

During Peaches, she switched up the feel with a 6/8 groove, we all love a bit of rhythmic variation.

A glass broke on the floor amongst the set, and nobody wanted to give up their spots on the dance floor, so they just kept dancing over it. That’s commitment if I’ve ever seen it.

Lots of vocal runs remind me of Ariana Grande, and they work well alongside her catchy choruses and songs about falling in and out of love.

“I’m so ridiculously thankful right now.”

She stops to take a moment to appreciate everyone who has supported her music, her band, the bassist who drives from Tauranga for practice and those who helped produce her music video.

“A moment to thank my parents, believed in me from day one and I definitely wouldn’t be doing music without them.”

“My dad forced me to write a song an audition for pop at UoA and that’s the only reason I’m Here.”

“Now to spice it up”, she jumps right into a cover of Chunky by Bruno Mars, a well-known tune by all. Pointing the mic at the audience, the crowd sings “all night” and “sunrise” in unison.

“One more song left any guesses” she intros into what we think is the final song for the night, her recently released single Conversation but doesn’t leave us hanging dry after the best song of the evening and whips up one more song as an encore for the road.

Jemilah Ross-Hayes

Click any image to view a full-size gallery from each artist.

Rachel Leo
Set list

Still Love Me
The One
Love Me Right
Missing Me
Just Friends


Missing Me