Image Above: Tom Wilkinson
The penultimate show for Aussie songstress Ngaiire’s acclaimed Blastoma tour was a spectacle. Neo-soul grooves drove the night, and vocal virtuosity brought the house down. The audience at Sydney’s Oxford Arts Factory were wowed with a ferocious display of female musical power. ‘Badass’ and ‘tenacious’ are two words that spring to mind. And while this is fantastic, the show also managed to balance this with a number of fun and upbeat dance tunes. Us in the audience never stopped bopping. The venue is a Sydney classic as well, although smaller than Enmore and Metro, and proved great for Ngaiire and her band. And hey, who can say no to a meat pie and tinny combo!
One thing that can surely be said about Ngaiire is that she is an outstanding vocalist. Her timbre, musicality, and virtuosity is always a marvel to behold. She could carry a show even if it was distilled to just her and her mic. What should also be said, however, is that she is also a fantastic performer. Too often, musicians that are technically incredible use their ability as a crux, and don’t engage the crowd as well as they should. This is not Ngaiire. A memorable moment from the evening was an instrumental breakdown where the singer exited the stage, only to emerge a few minutes later donning a new costume made of fairy lights. The crowd cheered loudly for this, to which she gave a shrug and said “Yeah I made a costume change so what! ”Songs like ‘Diggin' and ‘Around’ were obvious highlights. And the crowd got down. But the lesser known tunes also struck a chord. They performed an excellent version of the track ‘Dirty Hercules’ which normally features neo-soul peer Nai Palm from Melbourne’s Hiatus Kaiyote. The Aussie music scene is pretty great for contemporary R&B, huh?
Oh, and shoutouts to the two backup singers, who grooved the night away and absolutely killed the crowd with their vocal technicality. Each complemented the lead singer perfectly, providing rich undertones for Ngaiire’s soaring vocals. What was even more exciting was the solos each of the singers delivered. Never have I seen a crowd cheer so loudly for band member who isn’t the frontman. The other musicians delivered as well. Jack Grace (who was the first support act) provided lush textures and jazzy rhythms on the keys, and the drummer used electronic beats to cut through the bass. All of these elements came together in a soulful package. Ngaiire stole the show, but credit to the band!
Even though her Blastoma Tour (which lives up to the name) is coming to an end, be sure to catch Ngaiire’s great vibes if you get the chance.
Reviewer: Cameron MacLeod