Kendall Elise – Wine Cellar March 25, 2017


With her newly-minted EP on display at the merch table, Kendall Elise and her band celebrated the release of I Didn’t Stand A Chance with a show at Auckland’s Wine Cellar.

Also on hand were Tom Cunliffe and Will Saunders, both of whom turned in excellent opening sets.

Will Saunders started things off with his sharp pop songs and rapid-fire between-song patter. Will’s style is something like a cross between Chris Knox and mid-60s Ray Davies. He looks like he was born to be a rock star and his songs certainly held up their end of the deal.

Tom Cunliffe was up next. No stranger to the Wine Cellar, his Celtic-tinged tunes were mesmerizing as always.

You may have seen Kendall Elise performing with Thee Rum Coves or The Situations. Now she’s out on her own with her debut EP, I Didn’t Stand A Chance, just out this past Friday.

Dressed in a red dress, sporting red hair and a red guitar and bathed in red light and singing her 50s-style noir songs, Kendall looks and sounds like she might have stepped out of a scene from Twin Peaks.

She began her set solo, performing a plaintive ballad she wrote when she was just fifteen, accompanied by her own electric guitar.

She then invited her band to join her. They are:

Steve Roach – guitar

Balazs Sebesteny – double bass

Chris Kemp – drums

Chrissie Hart – keyboard & backing vocals

Sarah Jay – backing vocals & percussion

They then launched in to the old spiritual, Wade In The Water, with the three women’s voices blending beautifully.

Next was an original tune from the EP, Rose Red, a song clearly influenced by 1950’s doo wop with the backing singers chiming in with “shoop shoop shooda wops” behind Kendall and Chrissie laying down a stirring organ part.

Then things got a little emotional as Kendall dedicated her performance of Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here to her late father. Kendall and Steve Roach’s guitars combined to recreate the famous opening riffs.

After wiping away a few tears, Kendall then sang the title track from the EP, featuring a bit of haunting whistling.

They then lightened the mood with The Ronettes’ Be My Baby, driven by Chris Kemp’s drums, playing that iconic beat.

Then it was back to darker territory for Black Dog.

The show ended on a high not with a sassy cover of Suzi Quatro’s Your Mama Won’t Like Me and Kendall’s own rocker, Heart Full Of Dirt, by which time everyone in the room was singing along.

I should point out that there was an appearance by burlesque dancer “Amorous Ava” at one point to add to the slightly surreal nature of the evening.

Despite calls for an encore, there were no more songs to be sung. So, audience and artists all repaired to the bar to continue to enjoy a Saturday night out on K Road.

Marty Duda

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

Kendall Elise set list:

  1. You
  2. Wade In The Water
  3. Rose Red
  4. Wish You Were Here
  5. I Didn’t Stand A Chance
  6. Be My Baby
  7. Black Dog
  8. Your Mama Won’t Like Me
  9. Heart Full Of Dirt