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Troy Kingi - Gig Review: Troy Kingi @ The Tuning Fork, Auckland - 26/09/2019

04 Oct 2019 // A review by Lou Clement

Troy Kingi delivered a mash up of reggae, funk and soul as he debuted an album of politically laced tracks and performed for an enthusiastic crowd at the Tuning Fork in Auckland. This was the first of a three date New Zealand tour, following the release of his latest album Holy Colony Burning Acres and tonight he played to a sold out crowd.We were thoroughly warmed up by support act Ed Waaka who was joined on stage by Kerry Garland for part of his set. Waaka had an attractive R&B voice, but with a distinctive rasp, which lent itself to the indie genre. Somewhere in between the two genres was where I would locate Waaka’s work; his tracks were infused with beautiful acoustic guitar, and it was often central, alongside his vocals. The highlight for me was War On The Street. When Waaka discussed this track recently he explained how his work had emerged from thinking about identity, humility and social disconnect, as well as wider social issues in New Zealand. He was certainly addressing serious and difficult subjects and with aplomb; partly through the simplicity of the arrangements, and most obviously because of his vocal talent. A joy to hear live, Waaka was humble and heartfelt on stage.

For the most part, Kingi was fairly serious and focused throughout an evening of, what was, an impeccable performance. Kingi was theatrical in dress, decked out in a keffiyeh; a cloak with dark glasses and with backup singers who wore khaki army wear and stood up front. The message through this appropriation remained clear – a referencing of defiance; music and performance as a platform for international protest. Some of my favourite music was written to document and highlight issues; whether early REM; Tom Morrello’s on stage messages written on his guitar or Alynda Lee Segarr whose lyrical references and insights have made her politically-led music so powerful.

But musicians and bands can find themselves side-lined in the press when expressing strong political motives and this can make a difference to their fan base. I’m really interested to see where Kingi takes the music in the coming years.

For me, as an artist, his work had conviction. The performances from his 2017 album Shake That Skinny Ass All The Way To Zygertron, had a hip and convivial crowd hyped up and dancing with their drinks in hand. It was dripping with funk and with the smoothest vocals I’ve heard in a long time. I’ll be honest I was hanging out the whole night to hear Grandma’s Rocket Poem, those lyrics ‘you’re nothing but an electron, child. Waiting for release’. The best.

When they played Ethiopia, the second track on the new album, the crowd were captivated; it is an exceptional song. Kingi is cracking genres open like coconuts and if what he has planned comes off, we can expect more music to challenge our perception of the musician.

So many of the songs have beautiful composition with vocals to match; the interplay of instruments and voice is well-balanced and skillful. For the crowd, the music was like honey to the bees. There was a pleasing 17-track set including a three-song encore. Visuals throughout the night helped with the genre transition; the bright colours suited the funkier songs. Standout performances included Aztecknowledgey and We Were Once Kings. I was sad not to hear the balled True Love. Next time, maybe!

Photos courtesy of Ginny C Photography


About Troy Kingi

Bay of Islands-based musician/actor Troy Kingi has embarked on an eventful few years with major acting roles in Hunt For The Wilderpeople, Pa Boys, Mt Zion and The Kick, while also enjoying a successful music career. Troy Kingi was nominated for an APRA Silver Scroll last year and earned Vodafone Music Awards for Best NZ Soul Artist and Best Maori Artist in 2018. His side project, collaborative soul band L(())VE & HOPE also received rave reviews but Troy's most recent offering is his politically charged roots/reggae record, Holy Colony Burning Acres.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Troy Kingi


The Ghost of Freddie Cesar
Year: 2020
Type: Album
Holy Colony Burning Acres
Year: 2019
Type: Album

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