Photo - Nirrimi Hakanson
Heavy percussion announces the start of the show and New Zealand-born singer-songwriter, Brooke Fraser enters the stage looking like a long-haired Mary Quant. Smoke fills the boards but Fraser’s dark locks and long slim frame summon attention. The faithful – mainly adolescent females – whoop with joy when she bellows out the first words.
Alas, the sound is muddy, the song incomprehensible but this lady is a trouper and like her father, All Black Bernie Fraser, she ploughs through the mud, sidesteps the crackle and hiss of the PA system and scores. Despite being sick, full of antihistamines and that awful PA, she somehow makes the second song “Betty” recognisably lucid - her singing rests somewhere between Stephanie Dosen and Amy Macdonald. Subsequent melodic pop-tunes “Better” “Jack Kerouac” and “Undone” however drown in the sonic sludge. “I’ve been asked to talk until they can fix the PA” she says. But she suddenly bursts into the “C.S. Lewis Song,” and the resonance is glorious, the delivery is superb, and vocals are agile and lively. Then the show really kicks off as she releases vibrant story-songs like “Something in the Water” and “Deciphering Me.” They brim with confidence and soul as much as the songstress overflows with natural charm and humility.
Fraser’s wide-eyed energy dazzles for a few refrains that blur past and then she sits behind a keyboard and tells a heartrending tale of a lady she met in Melbourne that makes everyone want to rush off and create origami cranes. The devoted are enthralled and all stand up for the finale and then Fraser cleverly leaves the stage to a self-orchestrated standing ovation.
“Arithmetic,” a gorgeous ballad that most singers would like to have in their toolbox, is the encore and it’s a kind of self-affirmation that Fraser can hold her own with the likes of Sarah McLachlan. Everyone leaving the theatre is buzzing because despite the set-backs Fraser has exceeded expectations.
Venue: Her Majesty's Theatre | Adelaide Festival Centre, 58 Grote St, SA
Date: Tue, 25 Jan 2011
Bookings: www.bass.net.au | 131 246