Music is about moments and when the music is authentic a musical moment will take your mind off. Musicologists will argue day and night about authenticity. Frankly I’m over authenticity as a debate (while we’re at, I’m also post ‘identity’ so it let’s put the ‘identity’ discussion to bed as well). So how do you know when music is authentic? For me it is simple. The musicians are sincere.

Last week I was invited to attend a performance by Mandy Pickering. She and husband Jason Pickering launched their Heart Strings tour on the lawn at Woollaston Estates, surely one of the most beautiful gigs in the country. The almost 360 degree sunset vista stretching across Nelson Bay was to die for.

I have to say I was prepared to be underwhelmed. Pickering made her name on television as the winner of Stars in Their Eyes a few years back. In the Kadashian Age of nek-minnit wanna-bes I get sceptical. But Pickering is more than a pretty face, she can really, really sing. She and her band delivered a show which was heart warming and touched the audience in very special ways. When she sang her calling card rendition of Sarah McLaughlin’s “In the Arms of an Angel” at the piano she held a silent audience breathless as a hawk swept low over the venue right above the band. A moment, right there.

 More than the music it was the story behind the Heart Strings tour that held everyone spell bound. Displayed across the front of the stage were seven beautiful guitars - all hand crafted using wood donated by historic buildings that fell in the Canterbury earthquakes. They will be auctioned at the end of the tour to raise money for the Canterbury arts community.

The detail and styling of the guitars was stunning. Each was named - I especially felt moved when the Chester guitar was played. I spent some of my child hood days living in Chester Street near the Avon River. In the hands of guitarist Brad Banks the Chester guitar sounded sublime. On the two final songs, written especially to commemorate Christchurch, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

There was no doubting Pickering’s authenticity when she spoke about losing her home, about hope, about courage and how Christchurch now had an opportunity to reinvent itself, make a new start with a clean slate. There was no doubting the passion driving the artists and the music.

It was a reminder that when we are in the audience we are primed. We like the stories around the music. If you are on stage we want to know who you are and what you are about.  Be mindful, be authentic, play some music and sing some songs that tell us you are for real, that you are playing for keeps. Give us some meaning. Soothe us. Give us some love.

It was the first night of the Heart Strings tour and like all first nights there were jitters. But all imperfections were forgiven. Redeemed by the moment. Which was perfect.