It's not often you get to see three striking women lined up on stage together with their guitars slung low. It's even more rare to find three women with such individually powerful voices singing together in concert.
But when Anika Moa, Boh Runga, and Hollie Smith launched into a beautiful acoustic version of Moa's song Running Through The Fire, at the start of their show at the Holy Trinity Cathedral last night, it was clear that despite their talents as solo artists, they're just as strong singing in harmony, the cathedral reverberating beautifully with their voices.
It was quite a sombre opening, but the mood was soon lightened by the quick-tongued comedic banter of the three, which lasted throughout the evening.
The extra band members were then invited on stage (Godfrey De Grut on keys, Tom Broome on drums) for the first new collaborative song of the evening. Like I Love You was pretty, but dark, with a slightly 70s Fleetwood Mac vibe, with all three women on guitars (Moa on acoustic, Runga on bass and Smith on electric).
They swapped instruments throughout the evening (Moa simply turning hers upside down to accommodate her left-handedness), all three demonstrating they're not just great singers, but also mighty fine on any kind of axe.
They worked their way through a selection of each other's tracks, which had been rearranged for the tour - For A While which Runga wrote while in Stellar, In The Morning by Moa, and Clarity, a song which Smith wrote for Fly My Pretties.
They're all very respectful of each other's vocal powers, and know how to let their voices rise or fall back appropriately, in a way that suits each song.\
The second half kicked off with Moa's sweet 'stalker song' Dreams In My Head, and Runga's Evelyn, both of which were lovely, if a little unassuming.
It was new, almost-RnB style track Slipping Away, on which Smith took lead vocals, which had the crowd whooping and cheering. With it's classic pop structure and almost Christmassy feel it seems likely to be their next single.
That started a run of strong, emotional numbers, including Runga's This Old Heart ("about loving somebody in spite of everything"), Moa's ode to her father My Old Man, and Smith's goosebump inducing I Will Do.
They finished up with half a cover of The Bangles Eternal Flame (as a joke), and latest single Be Mine with it's classic country-esque rock vibe, before starting the encore with tongue in cheek, break-up song Alone, and finishing with a rare performance of Bathe In The River. Dedicated to Smith's newly born niece, it was a privilege to hear in such a lovely setting, and performed with such emotional integrity, with De Grut giving a nuanced performance on keys, and Runga and Moa channelling a southern gospel choir in their backing vocals.
It was a concert that proved their new songs are as good as their hits, and that a collaborative album from these three Kiwi songbirds is something to look forward to.
What: Anika, Boh & Hollie Acoustic Church Tour
Where: Holy Trinity Cathedral, Auckland
When: Friday, October 12
* What did you think of the show? Post your comments below.