Rina Sawayama, Auckland New Zealand, 2023

Rina Sawayama

9th January 2023
Powerstation, Auckland, New Zealand

Photography by Doug Peters.

Rina Sawayama (リナ・サワヤマ) is a Japanese–British genre-bending singer-songwriter, actress and model. In 2017, she self-released her debut e.p. ‘Rina’. After signing to Dirty Hit in 2020, she released her debut studio album, ‘Sawayama’, to widespread critical acclaim.

Her second studio album ‘Hold the Girl’ was recently released towards the end of last year. ‘Hold The Girl’ showcases Rina’s talent for bending huge chart influences and blockbuster melodies to her will with precision-tuned songwriting and powerful vocals. The album features the previously released singles ‘This Hell’, (which debuted with a performance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon), along with ‘Catch Me In The Air’ and the title track ‘Hold The Girl’, which came with an Ali Kurr directed video and portrays Rina stuck in a time loop within the bounds of a 19th-century farmhouse until she finally breaks free.

‘Hold The Girl’ isn’t just a smorgasbord of monster hits – it’s also a bold and honest statement about the singer coming to terms with her own past and the jubilation of turning to the future.These are big songs in a big album, choreographing female emotion, despair and hope in a record that pulsates with the message that pop can be more complex, darker and so much more meaningful than your typical girl-meets-boy lyricism. “I’m still very much a maximal writer. I hate silences.” And that’s her down to a tee – in a world that wants women to be quieter, Rina Sawayama is finding new ways to speak up.

The last 18 months have seen Rina Sawayama achieve a magnitude of milestones including changing the Mercury Prize and BRITs eligibility rules which meant Non-British artists could apply if they have been a permanent resident in the UK for more than 5 years. In 2021 Elton John joined forces with the popstar to release a special rendition of “Chosen Family”, a powerful and emotional ode to her LGBTQ+ family. Elsewhere Rina injected new life into Lady Gaga’s instant club classic “Free Woman”.

This year will see Rina in her film acting debut as she stars in John Wick 4 alongside Keanu Reeves. Add to that a successful modelling career – including being chosen for Versus x Versace’s fall winter campaign and campaigns for Jourdan Dunn’s Missguided, she is certainly busy and very much in demand. So it was a very special treat for New Zealand fans to be able to witness Rina Sawayama in the flesh (alongside NZ support act Zeki) at the very intimate Powerstation last night. Ambient Light photographer Doug Peters was there to take a few photos of the performance, and has provided us with a gallery of images and a setlist from Rina’s set – check it all out below!

Rina Sawayama

Were you there at the Powerstation for this magnificent high energy genre-bending pop gig? Or have you seen Rina Sawayama perform live somewhere else before? Tell us about it in the comments below!

Rina Sawayama Setlist:
  1. Minor Feelings
  2. Hold the Girl
  3. Catch Me in the Air
  4. Hurricanes
  5. Your Age
  6. Imagining
  7. STFU!
  8. Frankenstein
  9. Holy (Til You Let Me Go)
  10. Bad Friend
  11. Send My Love to John
  12. Forgiveness
  13. Cherry
  14. LUCID / Beg for You
  15. Comme des garçons (Like the Boys)
  16. XS
  17. This Hell [encore]

Note: Ambient Light was provided a pass to photograph this concert. This post contains an affiliate link. If you purchase a product using an affiliate link, Ambient Light will automatically receive a small commission at no cost to you.

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