Harper Finn celebrated his double single release of Conversations (With The Moon) and Teenage Queen with a sold-out gig at Ding Dong Lounge in Auckland on Thursday, July 25. Postponed for a week due to a last-minute sickness, the place was nevertheless packed with a lively, cross-generational audience.
The singles have only been out for a week but people in the audience are avidly singing along to Teenage Queen, an upbeat pop number that has everyone dancing — no mean feat this early in a gig. His stage presence is striking, with an easy energy and confidence in how he holds himself. There’s a mistake in the track order that he breezily laughs off (“too early, we’ll save that one for last”) before launching into Look Who’s Sorry Now, his first single released in 2018 with a healthy dash of angst and a good beat to dance to.
With a powerful, mellow voice, Finn proves he can do it all with a yet to be released slow and soulful song. When he sits down at the keyboard the audience is rapt, receiving the slow ballad with the same enthusiasm as his upbeat numbers.
Finn is a man of many talents, vocally and otherwise, which becomes apparent when he covers the Smiths’ Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want — his raspy tone evoking Morrissey himself — but his originals are where his stage persona truly shines. He plays a few unreleased songs on the night, leaving the audience with a taste of what is to come (hint: it’s more bassy synth-pop featuring haunting guitar lines and a driving drum beat), and finishes with Waiting in Line and Conversations (With The Moon).
The darker undertones that run through the melodies and lyrics lend unexpected depth to his music but the twinkle in his eye — especially when he brings rapper Dende the Sensei on stage — gives the impression of a bunch of friends just having a great jam.