Reviewed by David Famularo
There can be no doubt of the talent of Anika Moa and her ability to perform musically on the night. Musical energy flows effortlessly out of her although obviously the pre-requisite of musical technique has to be there as well. Moa’s ability to write a good tune is undoubtedly based on a powerful intellect being applied to the process.
On this night, her performance is both acoustic and electric, sometimes solo and at other times supported by the immensely talented Jol Mulholland, with a brief stint on bass for the encores from SJD aka Sean Donnelly who performed an acoustic set earlier. Jol is one of those talented multi-instrumentalists who can essentially create a whole backing band by himself, but it is Moa who is the inspiration for this particular performance.
I was pleased that Moa performed Dreams in My head, a perfect pop song. I wasn’t expecting her to as I thought she might associate the song with the period in her life where she was on the crest of being a bonafide female pop star with the looks and the songs.
Moa ditched this opportunity to stay real to her muse, which I respect, but I can’t help feeling that she has since thrown out the baby with the bath water. Her songs still emit light but Moa’s between songs stage conversation comes across as unnecessarily angry and cynical, like she is still fighting the 1980s’ battles.
In particular, she makes a big deal of being a lesbian when in fact to the audience at King Street Live being gay means nothing other than being gay and I imagine this is the case for the vast majority of Moa’s audience.
Generally speaking, the standout moments of the night are the electronica and electric guitar combos which have a great groove to them. But Moa never really allows herself and the night’s wannabee dancers (like me) to settle into a flow with every song preluded by a rather long introduction.
Despite a cold, Moa still manages to impress with her vocals as well as her electric guitar playing, going for the right notes rather than just a lot of them.
My concern for Moa is that she is putting herself in a box where she is largely preaching to the hardcore converted. She seems to be embarrassed about the softer sides of her personality and music. Every time she suddenly lets her heart out, Moa feels compelled to immediately dollop on a twice as much cynicism as an antidote. It would be nice if Moa allowed herself to lighten up just a little bit more.
Still, I did buy one her lovely Queen of the Table cotton t-towels which is now hanging on the wall at home.