Vera Ellen – Whammy Bar: July 15, 2022 (Concert Review)

Vera Ellen finally got her It’s Your Birthday Tour to Auckland, after having the original date (Mar. 5) cancelled for the usual reasons.

Despite lockdown and postponements, Vera’s been busy. We last saw her opening for Cate Le Bon in June even as she was battling the flu then.

On this night, Vera and her band look and sound to be in top form.

The Whammy wasn’t packed…perhaps still limiting audience size for safely…but all the cool kids were there (various Mermaidens and Beths could be spotted in the crowd) along with friends and family. As Vera noted, “there’s a lot of sibling love!”

Speaking of siblings, Vera’s sister Tali reformed her band Human Resource for the occasion.

Human ResourceHuman Resource

There were no intros forthcoming from the 4-piece “post-hardcore” band, so I’m assuming that along with Tali on (larynx-shredding) vocals, we heard Liam Kiely on guitar, Stephen Parry on bass and Richard Dugdale on drums.

Their 30-minute set may have taken a few of Vera’s fans by surprise, but I’ll say one thing, if this is their last show, they did not go quietly.

Vera Ellen

Soon Vera and her band took the stage. Bassist Ben Lemi (Trinity Roots) was to her left, brother Albert River, (who records as A.U.R.A.) was behind Ben on keys.

Vera EllenDrummer Samuel Austin, also of A.U.R.A. was set up behind Vera and guitarist Audrey May (Sports Royal) was to Vera’s right and with backing vocalist Bella Guarrera.

Samuel Austin could be heard counting in the first song and we were off with I Want 2 B Boy, the first of 11 songs to be heard from the new album.

With a few shows already under their collective belt, the band was tight, without sounding over-rehearsed. Ben Lemi’s bassline got Crack The Whip underway  and after Yuppie Farm, Vera to a moment to breathe, have a drink of water and tell us how happy she was to be here!.

The feeling was mutual as the 50-minute set seemed to be over before it started, closing with a rousing It’s Your Birthday.

Of course there was an encore.

“Give the people what they want”, said Vera as she performed Stuck With Me (the only non-It’s Your Birthday tune) solo.

The band returned and we got treated to Where The Sun and It’s Good, It’s Simple during which we were encouraged to sing along as if this was a “highly enthused Irish pub”.

We did our best. Vera Ellen and her band did much better.

With the solo career taking off and her band Girl Friday waiting for her in LA, it’ll be interesting to see what Vera Ellen gets up to next.

Marty Duda

Click on any image to view a photo gallery:

Human Resource:

Vera Ellen:

Vera Ellen setlist:

  1. I Want 2 B Boy
  2. Crack The Whip
  3. Yuppie Farm
  4. Telegram 2
  5. You!
  6. The Language Of Flowers
  7. Joy
  8. Heart In Reaction
  9. It’s Your Birthday
  10. Stuck With Me (solo)
  11. Where The Sun
  12. It’s Good, It’s Simple

Human Resource setlist:

  1. Black Mould
  2. Dearth
  3. PC BV
  4. The Master’s Hand
  5. No Remedy
  6. Glory Glory
  7. Scab Army