Like many of the audience at Sunday’s Paekakariki concert, I hadn’t heard of Ali Harper and wasn’t sure what was in store. However, for just $25, with $10 going to the Aquatic Centre, we would hopefully get a good show and be supporting an important community cause. There were approximately 60 people in the Memorial Hall, but it merited 600 at Southwards.
Christchurch’s Ali Harper is an outstanding singer by any standards and would not be out of place on Broadway or in the Albert Hall. From the opening medley from My Fair Lady to the final duet with the equally talented Matthew Pike, she thrilled the enthusiastic audience and received a standing ovation at the finish.
A fantastic talent
Ali has a wonderful voice with a superb vocal range and skilful modulation. She showed her remarkable versatility in singing songs by Eva Cassidy, Edith Piaf, Doris Day, Shirley Bassey and Barbra Streisand in the style of those artists. However, she has her own very distinctive voice, and in singing a variety of show songs from Guys and Dolls to The Pyjama Game, Ali played to the audience with great flair and panache. There was plenty of humour too. Barbie’s Got it All was sung in a delightfully spiteful tone with exaggerated gestures and a romantic number was delivered on the knee of a surprised, but appreciative, elderly member of the audience!
Three accomplished performers
All of Ali’s vocals were brilliantly delivered and skilfully complemented by her accompanist Max Tocker, who provided sensitive backing on keyboard. A particular highlight was a moving rendition of I dreamed a dream: Fantine’s lost love lament from Les Miserables. There were also a number of other emotional songs, from her tribute to Christchurch It’s Wonderful World, to Led Zeppelin’s Babe I’m Gonna Leave You, which she sang in a moving duet with guitarist Matthew Pike. All their duets were enthusiastically received, and the audience appreciated the wonderful harmony and rapport of these two gifted singers. Another highlight of the concert was Matthew’s superb solo rendition of a French Canadian song The Age of the Cathedrals.
A star entertainer to remember
Ali has excellent stage presence and looked stunning in a glamorous, floral frock purchased a few days earlier from a Raumati boutique. She is a polished, professional singer and a talented actress, as well as being a highly gifted entertainer. A mother of three, she has run a half a marathon and loves staying on the Kapiti Coast. There will definitely another Ali Harper concert on the Coast and it will be an experience not to miss.