Saturday, 18 March (10:00am)
Anika Moa’s Songs For Bubbas (now albums 1 and 2) have been a fantastic success. They’re hummable, repeat-playable, thoroughly enjoyable…and I’ve heard the kids quite like them too. She’s performed a few shows in libraries, schools, record stores and other ‘non-venues’ around the release of both albums and here she branched out with a full show – a week-long stay at the Opera House in Wellington was part of the Capital E National Arts Festival. I caught the final show, a Saturday morning gig with kids and parents both eager to see – and hear – what might happen.
Moa is joined by musicians Priya Sami (Trip Pony, The Sami Sisters) and Iraia Whakamoe (The Nudge, Fly My Pretties) and all three are dressed as characters from the songs – Moa is the ninja rat from the show’s title – Chop Chop Hiyaa! – Sami is the Witch from The Witch of Maketu and Whakamoe is the taniwha (Taniwha, Taniwha). These songs are all from the second album Moa has made for kids, and already there are so many enduring staples. She does add in a few favourites from the first album too – particularly Animals In My Room, Colours Are Beautiful and The Nigh Nighs Song.
There’s wit and candour and all of the great banter you might know from seeing Moa singing her adult-oriented material in the pubs. She’s gifted as an improviser, sharp without being barbed and with the gifts of charisma, irreverence and charm, as well as the melodic gifts too, of course, she has created a show that is super-engaging and fun. The music is right there in the hearts and heads of the kids. My boy not only sang every word to every song he was straight home to revisit the albums – spent most of the weekend’s spare moments brushing back up on the albums; albums he has loved across the last couple of years.
Iraia Whakamoe (drums) and Sami (guitar, percussion, vocals) were great additions to Moa’s songs and sound, adding harmonies, playing to character without ever trying too hard and, importantly, all three sold the enthusiasm required.
I’ve been dragged along to some pretty woeful shows for kids – phoned-in nonsense from big-name cartoon characters/organisations – I don’t think I’ve seen a better show for kids than this. Funny, joyous, musical – it’s what you want, a great bit of escapism, just the right hint of magic and positive messages that never feel forced; Moa gives off a great vibe too, in both the songs and song-intros, as a parent that is capable, that manages, but doesn’t have all the answers. No one wants to feel like they’re doing it wrong, or not as good or even judged in any way. This show was about kids dancing and singing and the parents were rewarded too – it was for a start thoroughly enjoyable, beyond that it was inspiring, a real thrill in fact.