I’d heard the recorded versions of Hui-a’s music but, although incredible in themselves, they in no way prepared me for the powerful and evocative live performance I was lucky enough to witness at Soho’s Sacred Cafe yesterday evening (a sneaky cheeky EP preview gig organised by social media idea-generator and Ben’s long-time friend, Rax).
Marrying contemporary electro beats with traditional Maori instruments, producer Ben Mullon of Koha Records and vocalist Jerome Kavanagh, both of Maori descent, have come together to create an original and exhilarating fusion sound, highly relevant to the rich and multi-cultured diversity of modern life whilst retaining authenticity.
The name for the extinct and revered Huia bird and also meaning “the Gathering of”, the project could not have been more aptly named – Hui-a’s emotional and undoubtably personally meaningful performance clearly also resonated with the audience and their response was overwhelming.
One track in particular, “Tika Tonu”, features verses from the traditional Haka of the same name and led some of the Kiwi audience members to stand and join in, performing the Haka with Jerome. There was even an impromptu tradional Maori song and another Haka performance from the audience at the end of the show as a mark of appreciation.
The atmosphere was electric, the performance intense and I’ve never seen – or been a part of – anything like it.
Hui-a’s debut release, the “Got to Live EP” is available from the Koha Records online store and they’ll be back for an extra-special concert at London’s New Zealand House on 24 July which will also see the premiere screening of their incredible new music video for title track, “Got to Live”. Tickets available here.