Churr Bro! This year kicked off with a massive highlight of international acts from major festivals proving that Australia is fast becoming a serious touring destination for prominent to underground musicians the world over. Niche Productions, yet again, held their high standard of touring acumen hosting an Electric Wire Hustle and Ladi6 national tour.
It was great to see Electric Wire Hustle return to Australia as support act for the incomparable Ladi6 at The Gaelic Club, Sydney. Electric Wire Hustle are a tight band with a lot going on musically, taking you on a journey through detailed musical adaptations of Hip Hop, Soul and Psychedelic sounds. Front man Mara TK plays and sings inside his own ambience with eyes closed a majority of the time on stage. It’s like he doesn’t need to look up to know we’re all having a great time. He basks in his own creation, poised, self contained and almost introverted. Their debut album on the other hand is bold, adventurous and translates well live on stage. Having seen them not too long ago for their first ever Australian performance at Tone, this second encounter was a treat playing a new song from their 2nd album which has yet to be released. A little birdy told me towards the end of the year. Let’s hope it’s sooner. I have a lot of love for this band and I know they’ll continue to push the boundaries.
Queen of the Night…
The first time I saw Ladi6 was three or four years ago as the back up singer for her cousin Scribe at The Enmore theatre who was support act for Talib Kweli at the time. Even as a backup singer, she had presence. If I could read into her future back then, I’d predict a woman who’s future as a purposeful musician was written in the stars long before she knew the power of her musical ability, cemented long before the birth of Karoline Tamati – her birth name. But she needed time to come into her own. Time is not much, but she grew into the confident artist she is now so time is everything or more to the point, timing is everything.
Wearing all black and a conspicuous shiny gold head piece draped over her head, Ladi6 commanded your attention and you couldn’t help but fall under this compelling spell made even more powerful with her alluring hand movements. Feet slightly apart with one foot in front of the other in a boxer’s stance, her hands told stories of their own. Her posture meant she was serious about providing an entertaining show, propelling all that she had of herself in her performance. Whether it was her emotive vocal delivery, or her smashing the crash cymbal repeatedly with full force (I thought she was going to break the stick and poke an eye out), or her jumping around on stage, Ladi6 ain’t your average performer. Her setlist comprised a majority of tracks from her new album – dare I say it, she played her entire album with the exclusion of a couple, and three tracks from her debut album ‘Time is Not Much‘ with a remix rock version of ‘Walk Right Up‘ as her encore performance. Stand out tracks were ’BANG BANG‘, ‘Jazmine D.L’, ‘Goodday’, ‘Like Water’, ‘Burn With Me’, ‘KOLN’, ’98 til Now’ and ‘Call You Out’.
Ladi6′s sophomore album “The Liberation of…” is a strong continuation of creative outpouring from New Zealand’s first lady of Hip Hop and Soul! She is confident in this album. She has come into a new phase and this album articulates her maturity and confidence as an artist. Having spent months in Berlin mid last year for the recording of her new album in between umpteen New Zealand and international tours dates in 2010, this year will see her performing countless more European shows. The most recent addition to her 2011 dates is ‘The BIG CHILL tour’ – a major 3 day festival based in London shared this year by the likes of Kanye West, Andreya Triana, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Horace Andy, Janelle Monae, Aloe Blacc, Femi Kuti and the Positive Force, Neneh Cherry, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Robert Plant and the Band of Joy, Electric Wire Hustle and a host of others.
They say don’t believe the hype. BELIEVE this one. Her strong presence on stage is fluid, feminine, tough, confident, fun and timid at the same time. Her vocal delivery, witty lyrical content and overall musical production makes Ladi6 a force in the industry. I wish her all the best, cos she deserves it. It takes a different type of person with thick skin, focus and skill to stick it out in an industry that can kill the essence of one’s artistic integrity. I’d like to think hers is still safely intact.
It’s look like a promising future for both Electric Wire Hustle and Ladi6 as they continue to create a larger than life presence around the world. I’d love to be selfish and claim these two as our own, but really, New Zealand is grooming and holding down their own unique artists without the help of anyone else. It’s just in their blood. Definite highlight of the year so far.
Sam Taouk of Soul of Sydney