[NEW ZEALAND ~ AUSTRALIAN PREMIERE]
Banquet Room, Sun 10 Jun.
There are rare moments in a live performance when I am reminded that modern theatre/performance had its roots in the spiritual heart of tribal and ancient cultures, where the stories told of the ethics and morals of the people, were a sharing of the values and beliefs that held that group of people together. Many cultures use voice and song to pass on their stories, their mythology, their heritage, and none more magnificently than the Māoris. Anyone who has ever seen and heard a Haka will know the electrifying effect of a group of men (and women) unified in voice, intent and spirit.
Now, what does this have to do with the Modern Māori Quartet, a polished quartet of fantastic singers, likened to a Māori Ratpack, showcasing show-band hits, Māori traditionals, pop songs and contemporary originals? Thank you for asking.
I had expectations when I booked this show, knowing the performers were Māori men. I expected them to sing extraordinarily well, I expected them to be powerful and funny, and I knew that they can be ferocious warriors and profound healers, magic weavers, and shamans, and also very down-to-earth people committed to family/whanau, to culture and to survival.
Modern Māori Quartet [Maaka Pohatu, Francis Kora, Matariki Whatarau and James Tito] is all of this and much more. You think you are just being entertained by four gorgeous men singing sensational four-part harmonies, in a delicious blend of Māori and English, while sending themselves, and everyone else up, in hilarious Kiwi-style humour. And so you are, immeasurably entertained and greedy for more. But more than that, these men are so openhearted and generous with their stories, their culture, their love – their aroha – that they become the energy-weaving shamans of their ancient and exceptionally powerful culture. They wrap it in modern, polished and personable performance, with their terrific humour and music, but the effect is palpable.
I can tell you about the songs they sang, their professional expertise peppered with daggy down-to-earth real-person humour, about their homage to the ANZACs, the shared war-force that bound our countries as neighbours and friends, their homage to the strong Kiwi women/wahini in their lives and culture, the sweetness of songs written to a young daughter, an absent lover or a bloke who is too stupid to know that he’s punching above his weight, but none of that will come close to the joy they spread, the wellbeing these men share in their total commitment to their performance. They love what they do and that love pours out of them into their audience, humbly, beautifully and probably imperceptibly to many, but I did not miss it.
My soul is enriched from their presence, their voices, their authenticity and their magic. My heart is singing and I thank you MMQ. Whakawhetai koe.
Modern Māori Quartet – That’s Us! continues at Banquet Room, Adelaide Festival Centre, from 3.30pm until Mon 11 Jun.
Book at BASS on 131 246 and bass.net.au. Click HERE to purchase your tickets.