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Arts Festival Review: Irya’s Playground

Arts Festival Review: Irya’s Playground

Review by Anna Sutherland

Irya’s Playground
Pacific Blue Festival Club
7 March


This Swedish pop band is here for the festival to play as part of ‘Inside Out’, the Cirkus Cirkör show. The group is popular in their homeland, and perhaps it seemed logical to extend the audience potential for this act by giving them their own show in a festival venue.

However, at times it felt like I was seeing just half a show, especially when they would introduce a song saying it accompanied a trapeze act in the circus. At times when the music started rocking, I felt that I would much rather be enjoying the music in a way typical of pop acts – at a venue such as the San Francisco Bathhouse, where you can dance, get up close to the band, and get an audience vibe going, or even stand at the back of the crowd, feeling the atmosphere.

As it was, we were stuck in our seats, listening intently to music that is pretty light pop. And not particularly quirky or interesting pop at that.

Irya Gmeyner is the singer/songwriter in the group. Her voice is velvety and relaxed, and also capable of conveying intense emotion. Her songs are mostly about yearning for lost love, and a certain resigned melancholy at the recognition one is getting older.

The vocal harmonies were at times beautiful, and the band is clearly made up of professional and accomplished musicians. The music varied from indie pop, to dub, with some 1960s country mixed in.

The band’s banter and tone made them seem quite wholesome and uncomplicated. I was looking for an edge, especially after we were handed ear plugs on the way in. I was prepared for something a bit darker, or if not dark, perhaps silly, or quirky. As it was, they seemed quite middle of the road, played very loudly.

********

Earlier: Arts Festival Review: Inside Out
Press releases: New NZIAF Nightclub on the Wellington Waterfront, High flying Swedish Circus
Arts Festival website: Irya's Playground
Scoop Full Coverage: Arts Festival 2010

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