This time last year Nadia Reid was making a name for herself with her acclaimed second album Preservation, touring the world and appearing on BBC show Later ... with Jools Holland.

Her rise puts the 26-year-old among the crop of young songwriters from this country, which includes Aldous Harding and Marlon Williams, gaining recognition on the world stage.

Reid is one of the bigger names to play Lucky Bar + Kitchen in the 18-months since it began hosting live music.

It opened on Sunday especially to for the gig.

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We are in a moment in space time, Anthonie Tonnon told the audience, his half-hour unadvertised opening set a treat for the 100 people who had chosen to spend a piece of that moment at a Nadia Reid show on a wet July night.

Tonnon primed an audience seated on chairs and candle-lit tables which at his instruction accompanied him with hand claps in Leave Love Out of This.

He's a must see live singer with transfixing physical performance, and does anything speak more gorgeously about environment and local politics than Tonnon in song?

Reid is one of the biggest name to play Lucky and, while she brought a brilliant three-piece band along with her, she began her set alone.

It's when the band join her on stage it becomes clear how much of a centrepiece her voice is to her music.

It remains the focus while her guitar playing and everything else tucks in neatly around it.

Only occasionally does the band erupt enough to grab the attention for a moment.

Reid describes her set as "an hour or so of sad songs" - songs from her first two albums and new ones she wants to road test before heading overseas to record this year.

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They're songs about love lost, loneliness and Levin, though a woman in Napier the night before told her they didn't make her feel sad.

Reid tells an Auckland joke which must be obligatory when playing in the provinces gives a birthday wish for Lucky owner Georgie Ormond and asks the Whanganui audience, "Are you happy or angry? It's hard to tell."

Maybe it's the same with her songs. Sad songs which left an applauding audience warm on a cold night.