Hannah Playhouse, Cnr Courtenay Place & Cambridge Terrace, Wellington

28/02/2023 - 28/02/2023

NZ Fringe Festival 2023

Production Details

Visuals designed by Wallace


Wallace’s music has been described as a vibrant mosaic of soul, hip-hop and pop, her trademark jazz-influenced vocals and magnetic presence demonstrating her evolution as a songwriter to watch.

Her refreshing talent has granted her the opportunity to work in the studio with Dutch legends Kraak & Smaak, Australian hip-hop staples Thundamentals, Botswana-raised, Melbourne-based rapper Sampa The Great, laying vocals over beats by Godriguez, and working closely with producer Simon Cohen (behind Justin Bieber’s global #1 song “Love Yourself”).

Celebrated for her electric live show, Wallace has previously toured alongside the likes of Rag ‘N’Bone Man (UK), Morcheeba (UK), Little Simz (UK), Jordan Rakei (AU/UK), Gabriel Garzon Montano (USA) Masego (USA), Electric Wire Hustle (NZ), Winston Surfshirt (AU) + Sampa The Great (AU/ ZMB)

Consistently connecting the dots between genres and influences, Wallace’s artistic identity has become uniquely recognisable, with her jazz training and distinct harmonies captivating audiences around the globe.

This special Fringe premiere will feature dancers from Wellington’s own dance collective More Than Moves and visuals designed by Wallace herself.

Hannah Playhouse, 12 Cambridge Terrace, Te Aro, Wellington
Tuesday 28 February 2023

Featuring dance collective More Than Moves

Dance , Music ,

1 hr

Song, instrumentals and movement come together with joy

Review by Cordy Black 01st Mar 2023

The Hannah Playhouse is a fitting location for this tight, energetic show. Penned and pent up between the concrete slabs of the stage walls, Wallace, muse of the night, shares the compact space with a jazz-infused stage band and dancers from the More Than Moves dance collective. From the outset, the feeling is one of bottled lightning. This is a warm audience, embracing a performer who has returned home in a great migratory arc. Two of her songs, Ae Fond Kiss and Pantone Home, evoke that sense of adventure and longing, specifically calling for the motu that is Wellington. And the homecoming is all elation and community, buoying the audience and performers alike with triumphal energy.

Wallace is jazz-trained and has a delightful vocal instrument – she belts, croons and warbles with tūī-like flexibility to suit the shifting moods in her pieces. She also lends a touch of visual idiosyncrasy to the overall stage design with her artwork. Sabrina Lawson has crafted Wallace’s own imagery, song titles, lyric notes and psychedelic snippets into an impactful and very accessible visual backdrop. The visual elements are fantastic at conveying the meaning and literary hints behind each song. They also allow a new audience to glimpse more of Wallace’s character, which seems fitting given the content of her set is very much coming from the heart.

Wallace by herself has an almost maenad-like energy, emphasising the sensual or forceful turns of her lyrics with impactful hip movements or a plunge into a low-set stance. The visuals and costumes have a hip-hop aesthetic but there are additional sonic elements here, perhaps even a turn towards post-punk with something deeper, smokier and more emotive coming out for ‘Ae Fond Kiss’ and ‘Orchid Care’, some of the most vulnerable pieces in the lineup. Repeated phrases inform the jazzy instrumental motifs, which in turn emphasise the playful echolalia in the lyrics. It’s a catchy tactic.

More Than Moves is a local dance crew with excellent stage presence. The five wahine toa serve crackling, fierce energy right from their opening poses. The troupe embraces a sculptural, fluid style that lets each dancer show us their character, while still feeling cohesive both as a corps in movement and as an extension of Wallace’s own moveset. Wallace deploys a theatrical gestural cadence which neatly telegraphs musical and dance cues. Her body is a launching point that the More Than Moves dancers can expand upon. The dancers themselves share an egalitarian, collaborative energy that helps everyone to shine. The audience responds in kind with plenty of supportive cheering.

The instrumentals are incredibly tight, energetic and bring forth some of the very best aspects of modern jazz-fusion. Cory Champion joins Wallace’s usual, well-knit ensemble to absolutely shred the vibraphone. He adds a lovely extra timbre and sensibility to the soundscape. The drum work is equally splendid and varies from delicate tickles through to frenetic break-beat animalism, all of which is an utter delight to witness in a live setting. The sound mixing feels deft and natural, with room for vocalisations and musical delicacy. No part of the overall ensemble ever pulls undue focus. A lot is packed into this one tight hour, and it all comes together with joy.


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