Saturday, 27 June 2009

Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra concert

Tonight, we went to see the Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra in concert. Having only caught snippets of the orchestra's clips on YouTube, I was looking forward to a fun night. The 12-piece orchestra (including double bass) are incredibly entertaining. The stage was decorated with no less than 30 old fashioned lampshades and light fittings, supposedly resembling a living room. Their outfits were all retro 1950s-60s style glamour; I'm sure they looked good in their day.

So, to the set list. Here's a highlighted version; it certainly was eclectic. A special guest appeared after intermission ...
  • Haere Mai. A very sweet, nostalgic start to the show.
  • Ruby, Don't Take Your Love To Town (Kenny Rogers). This was recorded for a TV ad and sounded fantastic on ukulele!
  • Sunshine Of Your Love (Cream). Amazing. Eric Clapton's solo never sounded so good three octaves up!
  • I Love You, Raylene. This was one of the more obscure numbers, apparently inspired by something painted on a billboard just north of Wellington.
  • It's A Heartache (Bonnie Tyler). Great to hear live.
  • Walk In The Park (orchestra original). Featured a solo whistler. There's one for the CV.
  • Blue Smoke (NZ folk). Celebrating 60 years since its release.
  • Livin' Thing (Electric Light Orchestra). They said this was a song that just left out the string parts; a very accurate description. As soon as the audience recognised the two taps after the introduction, the applause started.
  • Africa (Toto). Incredibly ambitious, Africa really showed off the talent of a couple of the guys. However, they were totally upstaged by the appearance of someone in a gorilla suit to bang a gong. Twice. The second time, he danced on stage until the end of the number before taking off his mask and costume. Special guest: Bret McKenzie, of Flight of the Conchords fame and an original orchestra member. Huge cheers and applause erupted.
  • Short People (Randy Newman). McKenzie sang this one. I don't know whether the audience had simply never heard the song before, or thought it was something he had written, but they laughed hysterically at almost every line. I know it's funny, but ...
  • Jolene (Dolly Parton). Awesome strumming in a minor key. If you're going to play country music, then Dolly's the only way to do it.
  • That's Amore (Dean Martin). I wondered where the extended outro for Jolene was going ... I recognised the chord structure and timing. Surely it couldn't be ... it was! This Italian was happy. :-)
  • Counting The Beat (The Swingers). Ending the concert with a NZ flavour. It got the punters singing.
  • Weather With You (Crowded House). This encore was played and sung acoustically from the front of the stage. I think the audience were meant to play a bigger part but seemed quite shy and reserved.
I'm now even more keen to find a ukulele orchestra in the Wellington area that is happy to have beginners tag along ...

1 comment:

Julie said...

I dont know many of those tunes, but I do think that joining a group that makes music is an excellent thing to do both for enjoyment and for health reasons.