When I was a kid I went with some family friends to church.

It was my first church experience and I don't remember all that much. What I do remember is this one image of everyone leaping to their feet at once, hands in the air, singing at the top of their lungs.

I'm not religious, I never have been. So I never understood that level of reverence until last night when I saw Parson James perform.

It wasn't that James was such a spectacular performer that I saw God or found faith or the light or whatever it is that happens to people in these moments of clarity.


It was that we had all gathered in the beautiful St Mary's Cathedral to watch an LGBT choir sing backup, while a pop singer sang gospel - not about God or faith. It was his story - the story of a mixed-race, gay man from South Carolina, who faced racism and homophobia his entire life.

It was that, for the first time in my life, I found myself surrounded by like-minded people who all believed in the same thing and who had gone through the same struggles.

The show started with a brief documentary-style video clip in which James talked about his story, and also what he was aiming to do: provide a voice for people like him, to make people feel less alone and more comfortable in being who they are.

Collection buckets were in place to raise money for the victims of the Orlando Pulse shootings, in which 49 people were killed at the popular gay club.

We sat in the church pews while James and Auckland's LGBT choir Gals stood framed by stained glass and wooden arches.

And when James sang, we got on our feet and we raised our hands and suddenly I was that kid again, captured in that moment of pure togetherness.

The show itself was short - James played through his five-song EP Temple and threw in a Broods cover (Mother and Father) and that was about it.

But he is a great talent with a clear style, a soulful voice, a tonne of impressive runs and belts, and beautiful control.

But for the first time in a long time, I was at a show which wasn't about the hit songs or celebrity or even nostalgia.

It was just a moment in time where we all came together around some great music and after all the awful news we've dealt with in recent weeks, it was what we needed.