Concert Review with PHOTOS: Hollie Smith / Mara TK -Live At The Museum

Hollie Smith - Photos by Shelley Te Haara

Mara TK - Photos by Shelley Te Haara

Kaaterama - Photos by Shelley Te Haara

By Shelley Te Haara

Artist: Mara TK & Hollie Smith

Date / Venue: Monday May 6th, 2019 - Auckland Museum, Auckland

It’s a Monday night which isn’t usual for a gig but considering it’s sold out, that clearly isn’t a factor. The event is part of a series and done in collaboration with NZ Music Month. I have to say I thought it may be an interesting challenge to set-up but The Auckland War Memorial Museum really accommodated it well. There have been a lot of changes at the museum since I last went there. The stage set-up could be seen from the entry, and people used that to find the best viewpoint, including using the next level up.

After a brief intro, first to open the show was local upcoming wahine Kaaterama. The first song seemed to ease her into the performance with her asking for crowd participation in the second song. Jono Boyle accompanied Kaaterama on the guitar and keys. But he also showcased his voice, with Kaaterama stepping aside for Jono to perform a cover of I Can’t make You Love Me by Bonnie Raitt. Kaaterama returned the stage to perform We Are Human. The song is about “Struggles that youth go through, particularly suicide which is bad here”. It was beautiful and she wanted the crowd to “Take the message in this song and share it with others”.

Continuing to touch on issues, the next song, He iti covered climate issues. It was a song completely in te reo. “But this is a fun song. You can get up, that’s your choice.” Kaaterama’s last song was Paiheretia which she mentioned she “Wrote in an hour and it was hard to write.” The song is about God. What I loved about the event being at the museum is that there is no doubt that it has great acoustics. Her beautiful voice soared through the museum and it seemed to amplify her voice and the different levels in tone. This gave the crowd a good introduction as to how it would sound throughout the night.

There was a line-up change, and headliner Hollie Smith was playing before Mara TK. I’m not sure why this happened but the crowd didn’t seem to mind. Hollie took the stage with Marika Hodgson accompanying her. Hollie kicked things off by telling the crowd what would be coming up in her performance, from new songs to her playing the keys for the “First time in seven years.” But she said she wanted to let everyone know as she was stripping everything back to “Take advantage of the beautiful space.” Though she seemed excited about the space, she was also still cautious, telling the crowd as she moved her gear that she felt that “Even though it’s your shit you’re going to get in trouble if you break it.”

During her performance Hollie told stories about songs she played, such as the cover of Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off and a beautiful song called Billy. As it did for Kaaterama, the museum’s walls amplified the different tones in Hollie’s voice. It also seemed to pick up the rawness and emotion of the songs. She seemed excited to talk about the new album, but also didn’t want to jinx it and spoke on her cover of Whakaaria Mai with Teeks. This was part of an album called Offering which raises money for The Salvation Army. The last track she performed was Bathe in the River. Hollie really gave the crowd one last listen to her powerful voice, played on her wide vocal range and pushed out the motion and rawness of the song. It was an incredible moment to witness. There’s something about hearing that track, in that way, in such an exquisite space.

Finally Mara TK took the stage with his 2-piece band (Michelle on harp and Corey on drums). It was his first time performing with Michelle and I have to say the harp was a lovely addition. It was disappointing more people didn’t witness it, as half the crowd had left after Hollie performed. I suppose this is the problem with the headliner performing earlier but you’d hope people would stay and appreciate all that was on offer. Like Kaaterama, Mara Tk performed a song completely in te reo as well. I felt like Mara TK had a real appreciation for the music as there were so many elements to it. One part of the performance was just an instrumental and what I liked was seeing why every element was necessary. The passion was there and they gave a great performance.

I loved how each artist on this bill was a bit different but they all complimented each other well in different ways. Each had a raw passion to their performance and this was amplified by the museum space. It was definitely a nice way to spend a Monday night and a great way to acknowledge NZ Music during NZ Music Month.

Hollie Smith Set List (as written on the set list):

Beside Me

Shake It Off (cover)


Ready For Love

The One To Go To


Coming In




Mara TK Set List (as written on the setlist):

Tango – Carlos Salzedo

How Can You Mend

People Get Ready




Red Window


Aku Moutere