Marian Poole, Piano Teacher and Music Critic.

Review of Te Vaka performance at the Regent 11 October 2006

A recipe of energy, happiness and predictability from Te Vaka won over a capacity crowd at the Regent theatre last night. Ten successful years of being on the stage and touring have honed a slick sound and a ready wit for pushing the merchandise. Ten years later and Te Vaka have a repertoire which edges closer to a popular American/Pacific idiom perhaps to the detriment of their own sound. Polyphonic drumming is their signature as well as dancing and won the greatest applause. If as much energy been put into developing these unique talents there might have been a bit more variety in the show.

However, after only a little encouragement some of the crowd spilled out their seats and on to the small dance floor, clapping raised the roof and whistles filled the air for a very polished routine.

While the traditional log and skin drums had centre stage, some intriguing and intricate work on the rock drum kit at the back did not seem to have adequate microphones and was lost in the mix. Dancers with a new costume for every entry had some lovely moves with both hip and hand and made up for a lack of dazzle elsewhere. There were political statements about family, village and national cohesion, Green Peace's actions for a nuclear free Pacific and a beautiful lament for ancestors who had been sold into slavery. There was also some great solo guitar work and a capella unaccompanied harmonies.

While this was an enjoyable show, with lots of stagecraft and encouragement for audience participation which did win the great applause from a capacity audience, future shows might be improved with a little less fusion of American pop and Pacific and some exploration of what made this troupe fresh and unique, pure Tokelauan music.