Aurora Stuns Rough Trade NYC with Gracious Talent

May 28th, 2015

Aurora – Rough Trade NYC – May 27, 2015

If one word were to come to mind upon seeing Aurora play her first headlining NYC show, it would be precocious. And if two words were to come to mind, they’d be Kate Bush. Four words: Florence and the Machine. The 18-year old wunderkind, Aurora Aksnes, who goes simply by her first name, brought all the trappings of youth beyond its years—her excellence both uncanny and inexplicable, begetting manifold musings of what the hell it was you were doing at that age, how little you knew or could do then, how little you know or do now. Of course, youthful talent does this to us all, reminds us of our irrelevance, our incompetence. The audience arrived at Rough Trade NYC last night to witness an event, surely, but also to experience the grave and exciting shame that it is to see an 18 year old peek from beneath her blonde hair at a room filled with strangers from across the world.

Opening the show with her arms crossed in front of her torso, Aurora cast the figure of a daunted farm girl, belying her intensity. Relying heavily on water imagery, the vagaries of symbolic suicides, Aurora and her band played “Runaway” and “Awakening,” the latter of which must hold a Kate Chopin reference point. But it wasn’t all fatalism. The singer looked out into the stage lights, expressing her gratitude, saying, “It’s quite weird to play in the States—having people come to your show—it’s quite nice.” The crowd hushed to the sound of Aurora’s dulcet and powerful vocals as she sang a cover of “Mr. Tambourine Man” accompanied only by an acoustic guitar.

The set’s closing movement contained her best songs, “Under Stars,” the stunning “Running with the Wolves” and an untitled one that sounded so much like first-album Florence and the Machine that it should warm the hearts of Aurora’s label, Glassnote. She closed her set with a shivering rendition of Bowie’s “Life on Mars,” and a member of the audience summed up what everyone else felt with an audible and breathless “Oh, shit” at the song’s conclusion. Aurora had suitably embarrassed us all, willingly, graciously. —Geoff Nelson | @32feet