The full house at the Clarkson Studio at the Regent Theatre wholeheartedly returned the mihi and aroha extended to them by the Whirimako Black Trio on a balmy Sunday.
The nationwide tour is supported by Creative NZ and Arts on Tour NZ, showing significant investment in home-grown culture.
We’re all in this together, as Black says — backed by a sound knowledge of Pakeha and Māori colonial history.
The Whirimako Black Trio successfully melds Black’s Afro-American blues vocal delivery with Kim Halliday’s country guitar and Mahina Kaui’s inventively melodic puoro.
Both musicians have won high credits across many stages.
Blues singer Whirimako Black is an equally renowned soloist with many collaborations with a diverse range of New Zealand artists and musicians.
The trio’s performance was enhanced by the maintenance of a finely timed balance between sophistication and down-home humour with short but telling narratives.
Their relaxed stage presence belies their ensemble’s cohesion but fits nicely with a rhythmically elastic and inventive musicality.
Highlights include works composed using Black’s mother’s te reo poetry, which highlight wisdom gained through working to elevate Maoritanga into local attention.
Highlights also came from reinvented works such as Hoki Mai (o te reo e), and the covers of Cohen’s Dance Me to the End of Love and Ella Fitzgerald’s Misty which Black used, somewhat naughtily, to conjure the turehu (spirits) of the Ureweras.
The evening opened with original material from duo Dave Alley and Anna Rosa Carpenter of Rosina and The Weavers.
The captivating songs, including 4am Train, are composed around the rhythms of speech and such contoured lines, such as "collecting thoughts and thunderclouds" and "nothing’s the same, and that’s all right". They are beautifully delivered with sensitivity to each moment.
A thoroughly enjoyable and uplifting night.