Bic Runga - Shepherd's Bush Empire, London
New Zealand songstress Bic Runga has been neglecting her fans in the UK but finally returned to these shores after a six year absence to promote her fourth studio album Belle (released in the UK this month), playing a headline show at London's Shepherd's Bush Empire.
Bic's set was pulled from all stages of her career, with a solo run through of Beautiful Collision's 'When I See You Smile' opening proceedings, with the singer winning me over from the off as it's my favourite track in her repertoire, a love song that's simple in its delivery but always pulls at the heartstrings.
Although Bic showcased stunning renditions of tracks from her back catalogue, including a divine 'Drive' and a gorgeous 'Beautiful Collison' complete with harp accompaniment, the songs that really made an impression on me were all from current album Belle.
If truth be told I wasn't a big fan of Bic's previous release Birds and only investigated the new collection last year out of curiosity, only to find it was actually the singer's best album as a whole to date. The album is named after the 60s French children's TV series Belle And Sebastien. A dubbed version of the show appeared on a regular basis on BBC1 during school holidays in the early 70s and I viewed it on many occasions as a small child. I can't say I was glued to the screen, preferring other imports like Robinson Crusoe and The Flashing Blade but the theme tune was decent enough and Bic delivers a really nice version of it on the album!
The poppier tracks from the new collection like upbeat album opener 'Tiny Little Piece Of My Heart' and 'Hello Hello' went down well in the Shepherd's Bush arena but it was two atmospheric offerings that delivered goosebump moments, with both 'This Girl's Prepared For War' and 'Good Love' really impressing me, especially 'This Girl's...', with its trumpet flourishes bringing to mind a lost gem from a 60s Italian movie soundtrack.
Other set highlights included 'Listening For The Weather', with Bic playing keyboards and harmonica (putting on a harness to play it and not head brace as the person behind me initially suggested!) and big hit back home - set closer 'Sway', with the singer saying that the song has haunted her everwhere but it pays the rent! It's certainly still revered by her fans anyway as it went down a storm, guaranteeing Miss Runga inevitable cries for an encore and the audience were rewarded with the aforementioned 'Good Love' and a keyboard-led solo rendition of Beautiful Collision closer 'Gravity', ending the evening on a downbeat but exceptional note.