24 Feb 2018
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Gig Review: Ardijah @ The Oxford Hotel, Levin - 22/10/2017

03 Nov 2017 // A review by Reef


Ardijah are an iconic New Zealand band from Auckland who in the 1980's were popular in the club/pub scene. Their debut single Give Me Your Numba was released in 1986 and since then a string of hits followed. Ardijah's unique Poly-Fonk Polynesian sound is derived from instruments such as log drums and ukuleles and combined with Funk and R&B.

I lived in Auckland as a teenager in the 80's, also a bass player and when it came to "slap" style bass, Ryan "Captain Fonk" Monga was one of the bass players to emulate. I hadn't seen them live in over 25 years so I was looking forward to catching their show in Levin on this tour. Since then though, I often refer back to a live performance they did back in 2005 at the Civic Theatre in Auckland from their Timeless Tour where they ripped out a huge set of classics and had the foresight to record it to DVD for all to enjoy.

Their current 20 date tour "Midnight Train to Georgia" begins in New Zealand in October (now), travels to Australia in November, heads back to New Zealand late in November, a quick hop to Rarotonga on December 1st and then returns to complete the remaining New Zealand dates mid December. The Ardijah line-up over the years has consisted of around 50 members (if not more) and the current line up on this tour are

- Betty-Anne (vocals, ukulele & percussion)
- Ryan Monga (producer, musical director, drums, bass & vocals)
- Rico Tali (saxophone, flute, ukulele, guitar & vocals)
- (Ryan) Kaitapu Monga (bass, drums & vocals)
 - Kolo TukuaFu Hansen (keyboards)

Ardijah were supported on this night in Levin by Nofo Lameko and Lomez Brown.


So, I jumped in my car and headed off from Wellington to Levin, arrived around 7:15pm at the Oxford Hotel and already the crowd was building in the public bar. Doors weren't scheduled until 7:45pm.  As I was also photographing the show, I got setup and before long bang on time, the crowd starts literally pouring in, including a large contingent of fans subscribed to the VIP experience for the show.

As expected the crowd was largely mature in age but also with a healthy contingent of younger patrons, all of whom were looking forward to the night's entertainment. Normally a crowd is in 'development' during the opening artists, but before the first act hits the stage the venue is already nearing capacity! They didn't have to wait long before Nofo Lameko hit the stage. Nofo (X Factor NZ 2015 contestant), warmed up the crowd with an acoustic/electric set. His vocal capability is amazing and he performs with an incredible amount of "feeling" or "soul". His selection of songs along with his engagement of the crowd were a winner and assured him good vocal feedback in return.

Lomez Brown followed soon after. Lomez is Auckland born and bred and his style is a mixture of Reggae, R&B and Hip-Hop, although somewhat more unique than that labelled style. He released his self made album Just So Fyne in 2012 and since then has quite a following on You Tube, various stations and iTunes.  Lomez has a great stage presence and coupled with his vocal range and incredibly catchy tunes, brought the crowd to the next level.

Nofo and Lomez were a great choice for opening acts and a great fit to support Ardijah. They both performed their roles well and by this time the crowd was in full swing awaiting the arrival of Ardijah! With seemingly minimal changeover, Ardijah hit the stage, initially the band kick off on their own before they are joined by Betty-Anne. 



The first part of the set has Captain Fonk playing bass (with Kaitapu on drums) and the tracks are almost entirely from their early album Take a Chance which has most of my favourite Ardijah numbers! The venue was PACKED OUT before the start of their set and the crowd gave it up when they heard the unmistakable bass and synth intro to Give Me Your Numba, where for a period of time in Levin, it was the 80's all over again!

The hits keep rolling and before long a crowd favourite Time Makes A Wine is played much to the delight of the audience. Immediately following and the pace is brought right back for When The Feeling Is Gone where the vocal harmonies kick in and it's around this time in the show where I realise they sound as good today as the last time I heard them, in particular, Betty-Anne's voice.

At this point Captain Fonk heads to the drum kit and swaps places with Kaitapu who comes down to complete the set on bass. The hits keep rolling, Somewhere Over The Rainbow, Way Around U, and before long another crowd favourite, their rendition of the Paul McCartney number Silly Love Songs that again features the awesome harmonies.

Toward the end of the set I was glad to see they performed E Ipo a song written by Prince Tui Teka in 1982 based on an Indonesian melody and on this night sung by Rico Tali. The last song of the set was Watchin' U where once again the crowd went nuts! The crowd's vocal were in fine form on this song and this was noted and acknowledged in thanks by Betty-Anne. In conclusion of the set, Nofo returns to the stage who with the crowd works up applause which sees the band return for the encore.

Ardijah performed two encores, Do To You and Moonlighting where they are joined on stage by Nofo and Lomez to the end. Ardijah thank all in attendance with some additional responsible messages around ensuring people get safely home and food at the bar. At this stage I am standing on a chair in the VIP area and as I look around the packed room, all I see are smiles, high fives and general satisfaction.

Ardijah are at the start of their tour. I would highly recommend you catch one of their shows on this tour, whether you are in New Zealand, Australia or Rarotonga! I myself will be looking to getting along to their Wellington show in December.     


 Setlist 

1. To Be Fonky! (Time)
2. Take A Chance (Take a Chance)
3. Give Me Your Numba (Take a Chance)
4. Jammin' (Take a Chance)
5. That's The Way (Take a Chance)
6. Time Makes A Wine (Take a Chance)
7. When The Feeling Is Gone (Take a Chance)
8. Somewhere Over The Rainbow (The Best Polyfonk)
9. Way Around U (Time)
10. Desire (Journey)
11. Silly Love Songs (Time)
12. Natural High
13. Midnight Train To Georgia (The Best Polyfonk)
14. E Ipo (The Best Polyfonk)
15. Love So Right (Time)
16. Watchin' U (Take a Chance) 

Encore:
1. Do To You (Take a Chance)
2. Moonlighting (Journey) 

Review written by Reef Reid

About Ardijah

Ardijah were a Maori outfit formed in 1980 out of South Auckland. They specialised in soul and funk and were very successful on the Auckland club scene.

It was in the late eighties when they were at their most popular. They released their first single in 1986 Give Me Your Number on Pagan and this was followed in 1987 with Your Love Is Blind.

In 1987 their first self-titled album was released on WEA. From this came the singles That's The Way/Give Me Time and Time Makes A Wine/Jammin'.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Ardijah

Releases

The Best Poly Fonk
Year: 2010
Type: Album
Journey (Aere'anga)
Year: 2004
Type: Album
Time
Year: 1999
Type: Album
Take A Chance
Year: 1988
Type: Album

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