Musician mixes classical and classic rock
It’s been three years since ukulele virtuoso Taimane has graced the Kahilu Theatre’s stage, and Waimea welcomed her back last Saturday with a warm round of cheers and applause. She took the opportunity to debut new material from her upcoming album “Hawaiki” and revisited some classics that are always crowd favorites.
Saturday’s concert was more focused on the music than her 2019 elaborate theatrical presentation of Elemental, which featured several costume changes, aerial acrobatics, keiki hula dancers, and a confetti shower. However, I’m sure full production shows like that will return once we gain distance from the pandemic.
Taimane brought a three-piece band with her which featured Rachel Look (classical guitar, vocals), Jacob Sierra (percussion), and Jake Staron (cello). The musicians were the perfect backdrop to surreal songs, especially Staron’s whale-like moans on “Neptune’s Storm” and the eerie psychedelic elements he added on a new medley of “White Rabbit/Bad Girls.”
Taimane loves a lot of reverb effects on both her vocals and ukulele. During soundcheck, she expressed to the sound tech her desire to have the room sound like a large cathedral. It worked particularly well on a clever mash-up of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony, “Aerials” by System of a Down, “Kashmir” by Led Zeppelin, and “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC.
Throughout the show, she often took the stance of a heavy metal guitarist but with the intense focus of a classical or Flamenco player. A red flower in her hair and a multi-colored sequin dress completed the look.
In our pre-show interview, Taimane talked about her rock music roots. “It comes from my dad’s side. He grew up in Arizona during the sixties era and introduced me to Led Zeppelin and The Doors, and I found my way around classic rock. I love classical too and am a huge Bach fan, but if I’m feeling in a metal mood, I’ll do Beethoven.”
Taimane debuted “Ladybird” and “Bora Bora Sunset” from her upcoming album. Like her previous releases, there’s a theme running through the recording. “My Polynesian roots inspired this album, which features all original music and a lot of inspiration from Polynesia, including the instruments used, Tahitian ukulele, Samoan drumming, and Haitian drumming. The album also has a spiritual, mythical vibe. I like to call it ‘Polynesian Olympus.’ I’m a huge fan of Greek mythology. So, I want people to feel good when they listen to it. And then, of course, you’ll have some ukulele shredding, as usual, and Polynesian aspects.”
The award-winning artist closed her show with another medley: “Ē Ala Ē,” a Hawaiian sunrise chant, which segued into “Jupiter” from her “We Are Made of Stars” album.
As the final notes faded and the band left the stage, the front row started pounding loudly on the stage while the rest of the crowd stood shouting for a hana hou. Eventually, Taimane returned and offered the moody “Neptune’s Storm.”
In a post-show ceremony recently revived, Taimane had a merch table with items she designed – everything from earrings to iPhone case covers was on display and available for purchase.
Taimane heads out next month on a summer tour of Europe, which includes a performance at the 50th annual Glastonbury Festival.
Listen to the full interview with Taimane.
Notes & Links
Stairway to Heaven/Für Elise | Ladybird | Carmen/Phantom of the Opera medley |Vesper | White Rabbit/Bad Girls | Beethoven’s 5th Symphony/ Aerials/ Kashmir/Thunderstruck | Bora Bora Sunset | Afterparty | Wicked Game | Ē Ala Ē /Jupiter |Fire|
Concert date: 30/April/2022
Photos: Steve Roby
About the author: Steve Roby is the editor of Big Island Music Magazine and his work also appears in West Hawaii Today.