24 Feb 2018
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Gig Review: Modern Maori Quartet @ Powerstation, Auckland - 14/10/2017

23 Oct 2017 // A review by butch181

The weather was timid as I wandered towards the Powerstation. For the first time since I’d ever been to the venue, the doors opened well before 8 pm allowing the crowd to casually enter without the need to queue. The crowd was well mixed, though the initial crowd was certainly skewed away from the youths. The bar was practically empty allowing for instant service, but most interesting part of the first impressions was the venue set up; the floor, which normally houses 1500+ standing patrons has been converted into seating for maybe 300 people. This would be a much different evening to the usual rock concerts and international acts that the Powerstation usually provides.

With little fanfare or introduction, Annie Crummer took to the stage with two other backing vocalists and an unknown number of musicians behind them. The lighting was not the best, with piercing spotlights on the singers, but leaving the musicians completely in the dark, we ended up with a stark contrast of white and black that took away a lot of the colour from Annie Crummer’s attire for the evening. Crummer started her set with See What Love Can Do, and showed off those powerful lungs. A friendly performer, she loves to provide banter for the crowd and talks a lot about her experiences in life, and where the inspiration for her songs came from. Inserted into her set list were a couple of cover songs; Melting Pot by Blue Mink, and What's The Time Mr Wolf? by Southside Of Bombay. It was during the latter of the cover songs that the crowd started to warm up with a small number emerging from their seats to start dancing on the floor area. Annie Crummer even brought her father on stage to perform a duet that they used to sing throughout her childhood. A wholesome start to the night and Annie provided brilliant clarity and power in her voice amongst some emotive and animated dancing moves.

One of the noticeable differences in this evenings performance compared to other Powerstation shows is the general volume of the music and vocals. Everything is toned down and provides a gentler, easy-going atmosphere. One of the downsides to it, however, is that chatter from the crowd will easily start to overpower the performance, and after Annie’s 3rd song, as more youths began to enter the venue, the bar area started to fill, and the chatter drowned out much of the sound, putting a damper on the ambience of the evening to the rear end of the audience, that had two competing sounds to listen to. A problem that only worsened as the night went on and the bar crowd got rowdier.

Finally, the Modern Maori Quartet come out in full force, lining themselves along the front of the stage. Starting with a cover of Till, a song previously performed by the likes of Roger Williams, Shirley Bassey, The Vogues and Tom Jones. Dressed dapperly in their suits, they introduce themselves individually with some witty jokes, and even a political joke regarding them being the only Maori Party remaining, before getting into their own music with the appropriately named track Who We Are. The quartet performs confidently, sharing the responsibilities of lead vocals and backing harmonies, as well as taking turns multitasking with guitars and bass. There is no question that they are all talented, there is no weak link in the group, whether it is in their performance, or the overall vibe that they give off on stage.

You get a sense of whānau when you watch them sing together. Everybody gets drawn into the music; bringing a daughter out to introduce Shine, a song “for all the kids in the world”, or bringing Annie Crummer back on stage to sing a cover of Netherworld Dancing Toys’ 1985 hit, For Today. The night showcased a wide variety of song types, from the love-related tracks Don’t Fall in Love, Come to Me, and Upon A Star, to the more jovial and lighted-hearted fun tracks like Punching and Kai Song (in which the lyrics are available for purchase printed on tea towels). Each song was well executed, and every cover was well chosen and a hit with the crowd. The highlight of the night would have to be Awhimai being brought up on stage to assist in singing a song dedicated to the wāhine, followed by a duet with James of Gwyneth Paltrow and Huey Lewis’ Cruisin’. A beautifully performed song interrupted by nothing other than a proposal.

How does one carry on after a proposal from the people performing? It’s incredibly hard to, so the night inevitably came towards an end. Annie Crummer came back again for Māreikura and a rendition of Poi E that got the whole house singing along. Their set consisted of 16 tracks (most of which were from their debut album That's Us!), but still finished short of 10:30 pm; a respectable hour to conclude the evening.


Photo and review by Alex Moulton

About Modern Maori Quartet

The award-winning Modern Māori Quartet are a good looking, suave contemporary Māori showband in the vein of forebears such as the Hi-Marks, Māori Volcanics Showband, Dalvanius and the Fascinations, Māori Troubadours, Māori Hi Five, Quin Tikis and The Howard Morrison Quartet.

Their debut album That's Us! is set for release 15th September 2017. The album highlights their voices in epic harmony as they share Māori traditions and tell New Zealand stories through original waiata with humour, charm and class. Growing up performing in garage parties, this is a story of rags to flash rags.

That's Us! features all original waiata, as showband member Matariki Whatarau explains, "We've been singing covers for years and you know, we thought... why not?! The spirit of this album comes from the Māori garage party, reminiscent of the parties of years gone by when someone would pick up a guitar and the music would flow. We strongly believe that real stories told with truth and conviction should be at the forefront of who we are - and that's exactly what we set out to do with the creation of our first album".

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Modern Maori Quartet

Releases

That's Us!
Year: 2017
Type: Album

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