Tina Harrod Jazz Band

505, September 24


Tina Harrod. Photo supplied.

Drop a glass and there’s a moment when it seems to hang in the air before it shatters. The first set of this concert was like that. Tina Harrod’s singing was all tension and edge, but you sensed the show could explode to another level. When she and her band returned for the second set the glass did shatter – and kept shattering. Suddenly shards of raw emotion were spearing through the air and, if you didn’t quite duck, you found yourself gripping the person beside you a little more tightly than was necessary.

Now Harrod didn’t occupy the stage, she prowled it, staring her audience in the eyes. Where that edginess had made her seem somewhat ill-at-ease before, now it was fully harnessed, and line after line, song after song, crackled with electricity.

You could gripe and say that her voice could be harsh, or that she did not use the lower half of her range nearly enough, but if she dutifully addressed those issues would she still achieve the same urgency? Besides, even in the first half that urgency was tempered by a quality that too few singers have the courage or capacity to bring to the table: vulnerability. Sometimes it was as though she were holding a magnifying glass above her lyrics and turning heat into fire, whether on the sadness and drama of Blue On the Inside, the searing intensity of Holding On, or the gripping theatricality of Dear Henry.

The instrumental sections were just as intense. Pianist Matt McMahon’s ability to combine ravishing melodic invention with turbocharged propulsion made for thrilling solos on a reinvented Here Comes the Sun, the cleverly constructed Hurry, and Big Brother, among others. Bassist Jonathan Zwartz and drummer Hamish Stuart, already the local benchmark for deepening grooves or making the music fly, continue to raise their own bar, and sometimes left behind merely being exceptional to touch upon profundity (including on I Shall Be Released). Meanwhile new percussionist Vincent Sebastian added buoyancy rather than weight to the grooves.