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The Festival of Colour's first late-night spot on Tuesday kicked off with funky fun from Wellington soul singer Bella Kalolo, who belted out a wide variety of songs to a packed Crystal Palace.
Kalolo's big, bubbly personality and even bigger voice deserve the spotlight after years spent learning the trade, working up from chorus lines and providing backing vocals for many of New Zealand's finest artists.
Tight backing from her driving three-piece band provided Kalolo with solid support to get loose and show just what emotional range her voice could handle, from velvet cool to gospel scream.
Kalolo stamped her style on everything she sang, from classic covers such as Aretha Franklin's version of You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman to self-penned songs such as the deeply felt and moving Mama's Eyes.
Different songs appealed to different sections of the audience at different times, but there was no doubt that this girl could sing her heart out, and is one to watch for the future.
Another one to watch out for is experimental multi-instrumentalist Adam Page, who guested with Kalolo on sax and is now a definite to see later in this festival.
Changing gear last night, Between Darkness and Light paired Wellington soprano Jenny Wollerman with Michael Houstoun, in a captivating recital of spellbinding beauty and depth.
Tony Rabbit's inspired lighting and set design transformed the Lake Wanaka Centre's functional stage to a place of timeless style, a portal to another world where music and poetry could work their magic with seductive ease.
Wollerman and Houstoun kept the songs short, interspersed with sensitive Houstoun solos.
The performance explored emotions, sights, and feelings that are most likely to arise in the hours between evening and morning - times of stillness and reflection, of sadness and joy.
This was an exquisite theatrical recital, beautifully and expressively rendered with both power and restraint by performers at the top of their game.
Central Lakes Trust Crystal Palace
Tuesday, April 16
Between Darkness and Light
Lake Wanaka Centre
Wednesday, April 17
THURSDAY, APRIL 18
• 9.30am, 11am: Baby O, Crystal Palace, (music).
• 1pm: Lloyd Geering, Living this Life, Crystal Palace (conversation).
• 3pm: Seymour Hersh, Invitation to another war, Crystal Palace (conversation).
• 7pm: Black Grace, Lake Wanaka Centre (dance).
• 7pm: Beautiful Losers, Hawea Flat hall (theatre).
• 7pm, 8.30pm: Salon, Flair (theatre).
• 7pm: On the Upside Down of the World, Luggate (theatre).
• 7pm: Tracing Hamlet, Puzzling World (theatre).
• 8pm: Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells For Two, Queenstown Memorial Hall (music).
• 8.30pm: The Yoots, Crystal Palace (music).
- Nigel Zega