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Arahi - Gig Review: Arahi: Te Tokotoru @ Big Fan, Auckland - 6/10/2023

08 Oct 2023 // A review by roger.bowie

My first visit to Big Fan, the new studio complex in Kingsland with a small gigging area out front. It’s the first gig on a brief NZ tour for Te Tokoturu, the latest project from Arahi, one of the most exciting new singer/songwriters to emerge out of lockdown. 

This is a special invite night, courtesy of Banished Music (thank you, Reuben) so I have my daughter Nicole with me, and it’s a bit of a wait for her as people drift in, and my reminiscing of back in the day when we always waited and waited and waited at concerts, and wanted to go home, until the music enraptured, falls on deaf ears, until Davidda steps up, and Nicole is all eyes and ears. Plus ca change…

Davidda Hikatangata comes from Paeroa, but has brought her worldview and her multi-instrumental talent to Tamaki Makaurau, and although clearly a little bit nervous without knowing why, she soon puts us at ease which in turn puts her at ease, and we are enchanted by another singer songwriter finding their way with refreshingly simple melodies and carefully crafted lyrics. Captivating. Nicole tells her she’s awesome., and she means it. It’s good to give back. Davidda has a few songs out on Bandcamp including a collaboration with Anna Coddington which is Slow Turn. Check it out. It’s not slow. A sweet set with closes with Eloquent, which is what she is. 

Davidda Setlist:

1. Song 1
2. 
Feel
3. 
Giving in Slowly
4. Days of Old
5. 
Child
6. 
James Must Have Picked Me
7. 
Changing Colours
8. Eloquent

I first heard about Arahi just over a year ago, but this is the first time I have seen him live, aside from his cameos at the Come Together show back in June honouring Dire Straits. At the time I thought him a little tentative, but I now understand better that he just projects understated and humble. Listen to his recent EP Revelator and the revelation will hit you. There’s a wealth of talent here, across many genres, and tonight he is presenting his latest project, born of an impromptu coming together earlier this year in support of cyclone Gabrielle relief efforts.

Te Tokotoru, unbreakable three of a kind, and the other two are no shrinking violets. Willie Devine is a drummer who also plays bass, as he does tonight, because on the sticks is one of our best, Iraia Whakamoe, known all over Poneke for his efforts in Fly My Pretties and The Nudge, another power trio with a psychedelic bent. Let me just say that Nicole has never seen such drumming, and, at 14, she’s been around! 

Ok, get the picture?

No you don’t, not yet, because this is power trio antics full of 60's/70’s vibe, yes, think Jimi, and think Rory, but think different, because this is music in a contemporary context, where rock meets waiata, where the emerging power of our bi-cultural reality translates into universality, and in this case it’s mostly sung in Te Reo. Think awesome.

Arahi songs which we know as more soulful and laid back, are re-cast as hard and psych rock anthems. Arahi can play guitar. No longer understated, very ‘eavy, but still ‘umble. The comparison with Hendrix only breaks down because he’s no southpaw. By the fourth song I’m completely shredded. Old covers, from Prince Tui Teka and the more recent Little Bushman, take their place alongside the new single Te Hekenga, produced by Troy Kingi. Te Hekenga, migration, symbolic of the confidence of today’s generation of Maori musicians proudly walking backwards into the future. The future is bright. Everything’s About to Change and the best is yet to come.

Waiata and Karakia, prayers and incantations, savage drumming, thumping bass, incandescent guitar, music for the soul, music for our spiritual health, when, to cap it all off, this unbreakable three card flush burn it up with an experience, and I rest my case…

Arahi Te Tokotoru Setlist:

1. Haere Ake Nei
2. Everything’s About to Change
3. 
Worst Is Yet to Come
4. 
E Ipo (Prince Tui Teka)
5. 
Te Oranga (Little Bushman)
6. 
Te Hekenga
7. 
Me He Wairua Hiamo Mau
8. 
Fire (Hendrix)

 

About Arahi

Arahi is a young, up and coming New Zealand singer songwriter rooted in folk and blues. His music comes with a heavy dose of nostalgia, inviting influence from Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Young and Dylan.

In a live context Arahi's music is delivered through intimate concert settings as a solo act, or with his band.

On their own the songs can still stand and once released can be heard through various music streaming platforms. (Spotify, Soundcloud, and YouTube etc.)

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Arahi

Releases

Revelator
Year: 2022
Type: EP

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