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Review: Auckland Pride Gala 2015

Sat 7 Feb 2015 In: Performance View at Wayback View at NDHA

Taane Mete If tonight's Gala opening show of the Auckland Pride Festival is a true sampling of what we can expect from the festival as a whole there will be a strongly Maori and Polynesian flavour, a little less sophistication than the last couple of years and a whole heap of come-as-you-are energy. Co-comperes Hori Ahipene and Waimihi Hotere may have lacked polish but they warmed up the audience well and in turn we warmed to their occasionally stumbling banter. First out of the traps was a beautiful piece of choreography, Prelude to Jerusalem, performed by Taane Mete to the haunting vocal fusion of Maori and Jewish cadences by the late Mahinarangi Tocker. Spellbinding and all the better for an encore performance in the second half so we could see the final moments which a technical snafu plunged into darkness first time round. Mete's grace and athleticism have never been more impressive. Buckwheat, Bumpa and Tess The great Florenz Ziegfeld himself would have been impressed with the majestic costuming and showgirl performances of drag divas Buckwheat, Tess Tickle and Bumpa Love. Visions in splendid white and silver, lots of ultra-glam and a little humour to break the ice. Singer Sani Muliaumaseali’i brought remarkable power and pathos to My Man's Gone Now from Porgy and Bess, this is a huge voice, rich and arresting. I do hope the Alternative Bindings literature contribution, poems read by Michael Giacon and Gina Cole, were send-ups of pretension and slavery to the fashions of coffee culture and footwear. The first half of the Gala ended with a bravura display of sass and swag as performers from Pacific Island Performing Arts blended hip hop, traditional Island style and lashings of fa'afafine fierceness. Sharp and slick urban moves with a flash of hibiscus and a whiff of frangipani, this was something quite special. Into the second half and there was a sense of deja-vu about the Big Spender routine from Night of the Queer with Kita Mean and Lola La Bomb doing a variation on schtick we've seen before. And while the acted vignette from the Legacy Project was kind of sweet and well-meaning it somehow didn't quite hit the spot as perfectly as their contribution did last year. But the 'tick the box' playlet did go down well with the audience so maybe comparisons with last year are unfair. Ramon Te Wake gave us a stunning, sharp and edgy performance of her Tribal Moments, somehow blending soaring vocalisations with gently percussive sounds; and always that eerie refrain: "Let me fly....." Hilz King Chris Olwage danced his now-classic Black Swan number, the first time this reviewer has seen it and now I understand what all the acclaim is about. Muscular, graceful, sometimes jaw-dropping in its taut beauty. So very, very good. The in-your-face lesbian rap was fun and frank and then the moment every gay man would dread, a finishing, ageing lesbo/Westie-rock finale of Venus - She's got it with Hilz, Edwina and co belting it out. As awful as it could have been it was in fact terrific, a perfect rousing and foot-stomping end to a night which, in performance, reflected the heart and soul of our glbti communities. - Jay Bennie Jay Bennie - 7th February 2015    

Credit: Jay Bennie

First published: Saturday, 7th February 2015 - 11:34pm

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