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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Review: NZ Festival 'Sorceress' - Shed 6, 15 March 2016

Wellington-based band Sorceress: Myele Manzanza (drums), Marika Hodgson (bass), Rachel Fraser (vocals) and Isaac Aseili (loops, laptop wizardry and bongos) put on a fantastic show last night - a taster to their upcoming feature at Glastonbury, the main stop on their two week Blighty tour.  That's a tall order but the band were definitely in their groove.  Despite the smallish audience, the band were playing to their strengths.  The youngish crowd were well keen to get on their feet early and as soon as the slow songs were over they did. 

This is a smaller version of the band, having stripped of a couple of players but the core is still there.  Rachael Fraser, in particular, has a powerful, deeply intense voice, with roots that reveal her own East Coast whakapapa.  I love her own Maori twists in amongst this gumbo of Afro Cuban hip hop and modern urban soul.  They've been around in various forms, especially as Funkcommunity since the early 2000's but the shills have now been well honed.  It was also a great warm up to the d'Angelo concert tomorrow night.  Their tunes are addictively funky in places but also conscious in topic.  A definite highlight was the drumming duel between Aseili on bongos and Manzanza on the kit, who really revealed his skills and jazz training.  Despite the heavy mix of digital backtracking the instruments were still upfront and it never once felt like Karaoke.  Fraser was powerful behind the mic, a keen advocate for her rhymes and lyrics.  Towards the end she wears the current NZ flag, reminding all that it's a symbol of the Crown's protection of Maori (The Union Jack) and the navigational stars of the Southern Cross, of which Kupe had followed.  I'd never looked at the flag in that way before.  So thank you, Rachael, for opening my eyes.  If you get the chance, check out this band - worth the ticket price.  If they ever come back from the UK, that is.

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