Regardless of the venue and despite her humble disposition, Nadia Reid casts an enormous presence every time she sets foot on stage. Usually, she’s on stage as the concert begins, but she was nowhere to be found at the start of her March 12th New Zealand Festival performance, which was held at the 1200-plus capacity Shed 6 on Wellington’s waterfront. Instead, her five-piece backing back opened the concert with the jam. From the larger building to the bigger backing band, everything felt different; felt grander. The scale was indicative of Reid’s growing popularity within her native land and abroad as well as representative of the stunning quality of her third full-length album, Out of My Province.
For an hour, she played songs from her celebrated record, which was astonishing in its beauty and intimacy but much bolder in its approach. Songs such as “Oh Canada”, “The Future”, “Best Thing”, and “Richard” from her excellent Preservation LP were fuller and bordering cinematic with the larger band behind her. More intimate tracks, including “High & Lonely” and the rapturous “Who Is Protecting Me”, were elevated to the point the music stirred one’s emotions as much as Reid’s arresting vocals and honest and poignant lyrics. Watching Reid perform in front of the capacity crowd and with the accompaniment of musicians not named Sam Taylor, who has been playing with Reid for years, seemed like second nature for the young woman from Port Chalmers.
For those who have met Reid and gotten to know her, however, will understand that the quiet and sometimes bashful artist can find it difficult to engage with the audience. On this night, she got outside of her shell and showed off her wry sense of humour, as she thanked the audience for being trapped inside “this big, rectangular box”. She, too, was conscientious of the moment, remarking how strange it was to be performing given the surreal times. For the audience, though, this was a moment to escape reality, and Reid and her band delivered with a stunning cover of Mazzy Starr’s classic, “Fade Into You” and concluding the evening with a remarkable rendition of “Get the Devil Out of Me” from her most-recent LP.
Whether she’s standing alone on a stage in the most intimate settings or a large, oblong box, Reid is the image upon which all eyes are fixated. Whereas pop and rock stars may hear raucous cheers and shouts during their concerts, Reid hears only silence because every person is gazing at her and lost in her stories. This is a power that few artists posses, and March 12th was no different.
Images from Reid’s New Zealand Festival performance were taken by Matt Grace. We would like to extend our gratitude to the Festival for once again accommodating us and delivering another great three weeks of art, music, and theatre.
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