Grace Cummings – The Wine Cellar: March 29, 2023

Grace Cummings

Grace Cummings transfixed fans at Auckland’s Wine Cellar with a solo show that was both intimate and explosive.

Grace CummingsIt was a Wednesday night on K Rd and winter was in the air as those in the know made their way down the steps to The Wine Cellar to catch Australian artist Grace Cummings solo…headlining her own show while preparing to open for The Veils later this week at The Powerstation.

Grace’s latest album, Storm Queen, is one of those records that stays with you. Click here to watch the 13th Floor interview with Grace discussing the record.  To hear those songs in the close quarters of The Wine Cellar is a real treat.

Tom Cunliffe

There are a few seats available around the perimeter of the Wine Cellar tonight, otherwise it’s either stand or sit on the floor. Doors were to opening at 7, but things were slightly delayed and by 7:45 a crowd was starting to form as Auckland’s Tom Cunliffe warmed us Tom Cunliffeup with a lovely 30 minute set featuring tunes from his latest album, Secret Exhibition, and more.  In fact, you can watch this 13th Floor interview with Tom to gain a few insights in that record.

“This is a protest song”, announced Tom before playing Loser’s Saloon from his 2018 album, Template For Love.

The crowd, gaining in number throughout the set, was with him all the way. You could have heard a pin drop after he performed We Had It All. And so Tom followed it with a song called Colour Wheel which is about listening.

Moving from guitar to keyboards, Tom closed out his part of the show with Refusing The Wave and the title track from Secret Exhibition leaving the, now almost full, venue warm and ready for Grace.

Grace Cummings

It wasn’t too long until Grace Cummings, rather casually, made her way to the stage, plugged in her guitar and got right into it, beginning with The Look You Gave, a tune from her 2019 debut album, Refuge Cove.

Grace CummingsExperiencing Grace Cummings for the first time live, one can’t help but be taken by her voice, it is a formidable instrument capable of tender beauty one minute, then snarling rage the next.

“I wrote this feeling like Isabella Rossellini in a world full of Dennis Hoppers” Cummings shared as she prepared us for the Blue Velvet-inspired There Flies A Seagull.

Grace then acknowledged Tom Cunliffe’s opening set…doing much more than just paying lip service to the local opener, but proving that she was there, listening, quoting a lyric from his song Loser’s Saloon and then getting to her own song Paisley by way of Tom’s Wild Mountain Thyme.

We heard old songs, new songs and covers during the first half of Grace’ 70-minute set but nothing from Storm Queen…yet.

The new one is titled I’m Getting Married To The War and the cover was a version of The White Stripes’ I’m Lonely (But I Ain’t That Lonely Yet) with Cummings having moved over to the keyboard.

The keyboard section finished with another new composition, A Precious Thing.

Then, back with her guitar, we heard Here Is The Rose, the first of five tunes from Storm Queen.

Grace’s between-song manner is engaging and entertaining.

“This is a love song…to me”, she tells us before playing Freak. “Now it’s a love song to anyone who needs one”.

Meanwhile Up In Flames is a song ‘about a lot of things’.

As we get closer to the end a request goes out for Raglan, but we get a strident version of Heaven….”There is no God , There is no King” as she snarls the words, Ave Maria. That seques seamlessly into Neil Young’s Pochontas from Rust Never Sleeps.

Talk about ending on a high note!

But waiting, the crowd demands more and , yes, we do get to hear Raglan before we are back on K’Rd, making our way home on this blistery Wednesday Night In Auckland.

Marty Duda

Click on any image to view a photo gallery by Brenna Jo Gotje:

Grace Cummings:

Tom Cunliffe:

Grace Cummings Setlist:
  1. The Look You Gave
  2. There Flies A Seagull
  3. Paisley
  4. I’m Getting Married To The War
  5. I’m Lonely (But I Ain’t That Lonely Yet)
  6. Sweet Matilda
  7. A Precious Thing
  8. Here Is The Rose
  9. Freak
  10. Fly A Kite
  11. Up In Flames
  12. Heaven/Pocahontas
  13. Raglan
Tom Cunliffe Setlist:
  1. Don’t Make A Sound
  2. Loser’s Saloon
  3. We Had It All
  4. Colour Wheel
  5. Wild Mountain Thyme
  6. Nobody Too
  7. Refusing The Wave
  8. Secret Exhibition


Marty Duda
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