By Anya Whitlock
Artist: Sola Rosa
Date / Venue: Saturday November 1st, The Tuning Fork, Auckland
Tuning Fork is a great location for a band like Sola Rosa. It feels intimate for a medium sized location and the leaners and booths give it a more saloon feel. You have a place to put your drink when you feel like waving your phalanges in the air which is a welcome change.
The sound quality was good with clear, rich vocals, well balanced instrumentals and bass and in some songs sharp electronic tid bits featuring with remarkable clarity for a live set. The absence of a live drummer was the band's biggest let down, this comes down to personal preference of course, but I think that the energy and presence of a drummer is hugely enjoyable and beneficial to a live performance. Even though their music is relatively simple beat driven soul music it is tough to do it well. The band are all competent musicians and I enjoyed watching them enjoy playing so much- it was authentic and grounded. Solos were easeful and rhythmic rather than flashy.
The new line up of Englishman Kevin Mark Trail (of The Streets fame) and the 2 front ladies was a clever move from Sola Rosa founder Andrew Spaggon in terms of developing a huge stage presence the 3 singers delivered some truly beautiful 3 part harmonies. The right hand lady Cherie Mathieson was pitch perfect throughout the show and for the last song Get it Together which was performed just before the encore held an epic repetitive chorus with ease and skill.
The first encore was the 3 beat-making boys in the back storming the stage sans vocalists, a happy birthday song to a Mr Crosby and Promise which again made ample use of the pentatonic scale as a backdrop to the lush vocals.
For the encore's encore the crowd was treated to a snappy and sweet Wiggle and the majority of people present dutifully bit at the hook "Wiggle for me" Hook line and sinker.
It's such a pleasure to watch a band that is completely enjoying the performance and each other. Sola Rosa do exactly this... I am totally ignorant of the inner dynamics of the band, and am happy to remain so if it means I can enjoy the funk laden friendship fantasy that is a Sola Rosa concert. By the end I had shed my city shell and was boogying with a room full of best friends I hadn't met yet.