Image by: Ginny C
Concert Reviews

Concert Review: Molly & The Chromatics Bring Magic Wonder To Auckland

Where: The Great South Pacific Tuning Fork, Auckland NZ
When: 11 Jan 2019
Clare Martin
Straight Lines

Molly & The Chromatics delivered a happy party groove at the Tuning Fork in Auckland last night as part of their Magic Wonder Tour along with an opener from Auckland band SKILAA.

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The support act played to a small but interested audience that gathered slowly for the main headline act. With polyrhythmic sounds and vocal harmonies reminiscent of Haiatus Kaiyote, SKILAA warmed up the evening with some excellent sounds. Lead singer Chelsea Prastiti has a versatile vocal style and their opening song, But I Do, caught our attention with beautifully delivered jazz-style vocal riffs up into Prastiti’s fantastic high range.

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SKILAA’s other band members were drawn together for the gig by Prastiti and guitarist Michael Howell. And they had a great line-up of musicians last night. The trio of instrumentalists were Howell on guitar and the very excellent Hannah Elise on bass (ex-Hipstomatics, NZ X Factor live sessions), and the experienced jazz-based sounds of Adam Tobeck on percussion. Together they made a really tight trio with a fantastic funk ‘push’ from Elise on the bass... what a pleasure to hear her play again.

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The band's recently released single Bluffin' gave scope for some hip hop sounds from Prastiti and a very sweet and fluid guitar riff from Howell. Slightly less settled was the hip hop style in Whore For Hip Hop. But one of the pleasures in hearing SKILAA was the nicely matched vocals between Prastiti and her backing vocalist, Crystal Choi. Together they weaved and swooped over the range, adding some very tangy vocal moments to the songs.

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Finishing their warm-up set was SKILAA’s upcoming single Way Of The World and by now they had an audience who warmly received their sound. I hope to hear more of this fairly new Auckland band.

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Molly & The Chromatics had gathered a super excited local fan-base to hear them and there was a real buzz in anticipation of their arrival. As they bounded onto the stage to perform, a huge response went up from the audience and we were off on a wave to party!

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Vocalist Molly Rowlandson was a sparkler on stage and along with guitarist George Edgar, their enjoyment in particular was infectious. And you can see that this group were very much in groove with each other based on a tight friendship. They were all having a great time on stage and the audience was more than happy to take up their party invitation.

The band have been on their Magic Wonder Tour since the 2nd January and this was their penultimate gig. Their opening number Waiting sparkled with life and fun. Further into the set maybe the touring showed a little with an easing of energy. This was despite the guitarist raising the energy and whoops from the audience by removing his shirt.

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Molly & The Chromatics deliver slick neo-soul/R&B sound with a side order of jazz - a perfect fusion of styles for a chilled out vibe

Notable in the set was their second song Anubis which settled into a comfortable groove featuring a nice Middle Eastern-scale sax and trumpet bridge. Their next song Personal began acoustically with Rowlandson vocally and Edgar on guitar and I relished the opportunity to hear this duet, would love to hear an even more pared down moments from this band. They certainly bring out a great vibrant blast in full band sound but great to hear the vocals more intimately too.

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Whether it was the sound set up or the balance, it wasn’t always easy to hear any of the lyrics. But it was so worth hearing the gorgeous Rowlandson and her smooth honey of a voice.

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By mid set the band were funking along with a new song Bionic with an upbeat energy. Great to hear some excellent sounds from saxophonist Matt Bizzle and trumpeter Guy Harrison.

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One of the clear stand outs for the night was Straight Lines, title track from their recently released EP which gave a nice space for vocals. Also worth noting was the skill from Tom Taylor on keys who maintained a bass line throughout the night as well as chord interest. And some nice percussion flourishes from drummer Sam Horgan.

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The band finished their set with In This World and Wash Over Me. The audience was with them all the way... an encore was demanded enthusiastically. To end the night, Molly & The Chromatics delivered an encore that raised the rafters for the already amped audience, giving us another shot of energy to get us home on a really hot summer’s night.

Radio 13 thanks and credits Ginelle from Ginny C Photography for all the images featured in this article. A special thanks to Shane Hickmore for his hand on stage lighting during the show. 

SKILAA’s Set List

  • But I Do
  • Fantasy Life
  • Bluffin’
  • Whore For Hip Hop
  • Traveling
  • Way Of The World

Molly & The Chromatics Set List

  • Waiting
  • Pick Your Potion
  • Anubis
  • Magic Wonder
  • Bionic
  • Straight Lines
  • In This World
  • The Middle
  • Can’t Keep Checking my Phone
  • Wash Over Me


Written By: Clare Martin Clare has performed as an opera, recital and oratorio artist in UK most notably the Queen Elizabeth Hall, South Bank, London. In NZ she has performed with NZ Opera and with the NZ Symphony Orchestra but more recently she has moved into a wider range of contemporary genres including jazz and even Leonard Cohen. Since 2008 Clare has been teaching from her own music studio working with professional and beginner singers. In 2017 she was a mentor on TVNZ’s The Naked Choir working with a cappella choirs and she currently coaches barbershop and a woman’s ensemble.