Modern Maori Quartet – Two Worlds
Adelaide Cabaret Festival
(Review by Sarah List)
Flowers and peacock feathers and chairs bedecked the Space Theatre, and when the four suited up performers began to sing, the transformation into an island paradise was complete. The room was absolutely packed, and it was no wonder as the quality of the act was exceptional. Matu Ngaropo, Matariki Whatarau, Maaka Pohatu and Francis Kora are the Modern Maori Quartet, and it’s easy to see why they were favourites at the 2018 Cabaret Festival, and return the festival in 2019. Each of them are accomplished musicians, singers and performers, with considerable stage experience under their belts. For anyone unsure what to expect, the Quartet bring to life a classic Maori ‘Rat Pack’ experience, blending traditional song and dance, with sweet harmonies and their own original music. Performing in both English and Maori, it’s impossible not to get caught up in the upbeat vibe and warmth of the performers. The storyline sees the four trapped between two worlds – purgatory – a metaphor to the modern Maori experience of being between the European world and their traditional roots. In between songs there’s many references to the struggles that the Maori continue to face today. There were plenty of high points though, such as the Kai Song and Come To Me – and the traditional dance, hand movements and facial expressions added richness to the storytelling. And yes, it does feature the haka during Matariki Whatarau’s backstory focus moment.
The Modern Maori’s Quartet’s performance has plenty of humour and heart, and genuine warmth between each of the performers. This is the kind of show that you could take anyone to and they would have a great evening and leave on a high. Check out their performances on facebook or youtube, and make a note for the next time they hit town.