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  • Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra - Gig Review: WIUO @ James Cabaret, Wellington 05/12/14

Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra - Gig Review: WIUO @ James Cabaret, Wellington 05/12/14

06 Dec 2014 // A review by Tony McDonald

After touring New Zealand, the Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra finished off their trip in the best possible place - Wellington. The venue was James Cabaret, which if you haven’t already been, must be described as; unglamorous, dark, terrible bar selection of food and drinks, and out of town. On the positive side it has the best atmosphere, fantastic sound, brings the audience close together, and is what every small venue should strive for.

The band came on at 8:30pm without any support or warm up act and one of the band members did the introductions before walking on herself. They really seem like a down to earth, good bunch of people that love playing their instruments. Did I mention that most of them had Ukulele’s? Now there’s a surprise!!! If they weren’t holding a ukulele they had a double bass, electric bass, percussion, drums, shakers, you name it.

The costumes were quite outrageous and one thing I really enjoyed was that every member, at some point of the show, was shot onto centre stage to either sing, do a solo, or just dance. Brilliant.

The show started with Love of the Common People, originally a folk ballad written by John Hurley and Ronnie Wilkins. Most people may remember the Paul Young version. Anyway, it was upbeat and changed to suit Ukulele’s and the crowd really got going.

Now if they had stuck to this formula it would have been epic and everyone would have danced the night away, but for me there were too many slow songs thrown in which broke up the tempo. I don’t mind a break from the adrenaline rush of fast paced songs, but too much talking and slowness would be my only criticism.

I watched the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain at the Opera House some years ago, and this takes some beating with more popular songs and polish, so I suppose I was expecting the same.

Apart from that the audiences were clapping (out of time, as usual), joining in with the singing and generally having a great time. Guests were also brought onto the stage such as the Scottish born drummer John Rae from the Jazz band Troubles.

The first half set included:

Raylene (very funny, written based on a message someone had written on a road side).
Team by Lorde (could have been sung better, and was a little boring).
Jezebel – Brilliantly sung with a husky deep voice.
Afternoon Delight – Another highlight for me, very upbeat and amazing vocals from everyone.
Some Hawaiian song (dragged on, one to avoid).
Happy by Pharrell Williams (Fantastically done and got the audience going).
A Tahiti style song - upbeat & lively and suited Ukulele’s well unsurprisingly.
Wake Up by Aaradhna (James Hill from Nova Scotia took to the stage. What a great ukulele player. He actually recorded a riff in a bathroom in Montreal for this song to go on the album. Another great highlight for me).

That was just the first half, I suggest you get down to see them next time they play to see what you're missing and you can catch the second half.

To meet the band click here:



About Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra

The dozen-strong strummers of the WIUO faithfully reproduce hit songs from across the musical spectrum. They are a consistent sell-out act in their home country, where the ukulele has been a beloved instrument since its appearance on the first official New Zealand pop single.

The orchestra provides harmonious and hilarious renditions of classics, rock hits and folk tunes as well as songs in their country’s native tongue. The comedy comes from the witty banter, but when the WIUO bursts into song it could go several ways: the sweet sounds can silence a room in a nanosecond, or bring a crowd of thousands to their feet.

At their gigs, you can expect inviting sing-a-longs, outstanding instrumentals, well-dressed individuals, sparkling harmonies and comic banter. The WIUO has rocked rock venues, botanic gardens and vineyards, and they've also been known to rock libraries, museums, art galleries and the inter-island ferry.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra


Be Mine Tonight
Year: 2014
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
Blue Smoke
Year: 2012
Type: EP
The Dreaming EP
Year: 2009
Type: EP
A Little Bit Wonderful
Year: 2008
Type: EP
The Heartache
Year: 2008
Type: EP

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