(sorry, it's very long)
On my review of Odyssey, Roger praised me for writing a balanced review to “counteract my ever-rapturous praise of everything Hayley does.” Well, Roger, I’m afraid I’ll disappoint you here, because this DVD is as close to perfection as a piece of music can get. There is nothing I would change on it; no critisism. From the technical details -- costume, lighting, filming -- to the magical voice, this is probably the best thing Hayley has ever released.
The DVD begins with a Maori dance and choral performance that gives meaning to the title Live From New Zealand
. Hayley has travelled far and wide, but she hasn’t forgotten her roots; and the dance group adds a nice touch of “home” to the concert. After 3 minutes, Hayley enters in a beautiful beige gown and sings her signature song Pokarekare Ana
, with a new depth to her voice that I didn’t find in Pure. She goes on to perform River of Dreams
, looking very fairy-like in the dreamland her singing creates. Next, with minimal accompaniment and perfect control over her voice, she presents the audience with a strong version of In Trutina
Hayley returns to the stage in a lovely dress of pale green and delivers a very mystical Across the Universe of Time
, handling the metaphorical lyrics with lots of feeling. Sophie joins her sister in the choruses, which I think is a very sweet thing for Hayley to do, and one of the most special moments on the DVD.
I’ve gushed over May it Be
on Odyssey, and I’m going to praise it even more here. Wonderfully sylph-like against a video of lovely landscape scenery, she does indeed ‘find her way’ into the hearts of her listeners
As the orchestra plays the opening notes of Beat of Your Heart
, Hayley emerges from a cloud of stage smoke in a very elegant blue-green dress. This section of the show is, in my opinion, the strongest, with her voice sounding fuller and more intense than ever. She goes on to sing Aria
with wonderful poise, and adds a lot more feeling to Who Painted the Moon Black
than the album version had.
Halfway through the DVD comes one of its highest points -- How Many Stars
. Teddy Tahu Rhodes’s deep, soulful voice does not overpower Hayley as she sings the Oriental melody with almost a sense of desperation, in a “belty” vocal style I never knew she could do.
Hayley comes back on stage in a nice black dress and sings three Christian pieces -- an English version Ave Maria
, with which she seems to have a better connection than the traditional Latin lyrics; an uplifting, slightly bluesy Down to the River
; and skilfully blends these two unique pieces into a rendition of the traditional Amazing Grace
. Singing these with the choirs establishes a wonderful spiritual atmosphere in the theatre, where Hayley looks very much at ease.
In a lovely dark blue gown, Hayley sings the powerful, victorious Benedictus; and, changing into a stylish black dress, a jazzy version of the Christmas carol, Mary Did You Know
. I would have slowed down the tempo a bit on it, but it’s one of my favourites. She performs Both Sides Now
with a lot of feeling, in particular, making the last verse very believable. Regretful to be leaving soon, she treats the audience to the wistful but hopeful Never Say Goodbye
, much more dimensional than the rather plain album version. I was feeling rather sad by this time, but Hayley lifted my spirits with the awesome Wuthering Heights
. I wasn’t sure how well she would do this one live, as the album version undergoes much processing to make it what it is. However, she energized the audience with a perfect rendition of the piece, that fit the mood of the novel better than the track on Pure.
To end the show, Hayley come onstage with Teddy and sang a moving duet of the lullaby Hine E Hine
. Her voice soared powerfully but gently, bidding farewell to the hundreds of loyal Kiwi followers that were so proud of their young songbird.
And, with some lovely music set to NZ scenery, the credits rolled across the screen, leaving me sad, but very satisfied with the world’s finest voice. Everything about this DVD was perfect -- emotion, stage presence, costumes, and the voice
The bonus features include a wonderful documentary on Hayley with some really insightful interviews from her, her family, and her teacher (and includes a nice clip of her busking); a 10-mintue video on New Zealand featuring some absolutely gorgeous scenery; a music video for Pokarekare Ana, which I love; a very moving video of I Dreamed a Dream from Russell Watson’s DVD; and two picture galleries which I really enjoyed watching.
It’s absolutely perfect.