…they’d probably sound like this…
And on Thursday we witnessed and participated in a musical moment as yet unrivaled on this fair isle. ‘Vorovoro Sessions’ was to be a last minute professionally recorded collection of island sounds live for the pleasure of the Vorovorons and soon for the Vuravura.
Shells strewn as letters spelling out the night, neon blue fairy lights wriggling across the vesi wooden floor, and pot plants lit by diwali candles marked out the performance space.
Intro tribe members Dave and Georgie – young, talented, creative and loaded with professional sound recording gear. Dave sets up his production deck (lap-top, keyboard and headphones) on a rickety table stage left whilst Georgie tests stage mic, two-three. Up a ladder on the beam Hammock President Jim documents in HD.
The tribe gather in the dark and await the visiting performers. A spontaneous head-torch runway cuts a path through the throng, hush descends. Enter the Choir. One by one the Mali maelstrom stoop into the great house – ankles flicking through the petzel beams. A breath, a soundcheck and then the blast as twenty voices slice through the night and the mangrove and straw cathedral. Harmony must have been made by these people because I have not heard anything quite like this before.
Our flexible Ben – the duke with the uke and sustainability hero Mr. Katz takes to the stage next. A surprise Dylan cover is followed by the brilliant ‘September’, and the crowd’s obvious current island favourite, “I’m a superhero, how ‘bout you?’. Cigarette lighters swayed.
Georgie solo’d with her own piercing song. It’s difficult not to sound like something straight out of NME – but it was a haunting, serene performance.
Chelly led a two-song acoustic – something many of us have heard over the last couple of years. The smiles floating out over the high tide.
Tribe members and all Vorovorons were then called to the stage to be led in a Live Aid stylee by Georgie – headphones and hips – in a ‘vo-ro-vo-ro’ harmony. It worked! Before finally, team fiji entered to the kind of reception football fans give their home team when they run out onto the pitch on Saturday afternoon. It had been a long day and night but with grog-filled shells circling, new energy was found.
Conducted by Leavi, powered by Tevita, strummed by Api, Tale, and Save and sung by all – for the next half hour the creme of the kava bowl classics surged forth as the candles threw their shadows across stage. Surely these guys are the Fijian version of The Commitments – South Pacific Soul. Jale was called to join the band – the first non-Fijian to sing alongside the team having learnt the lyrics, and he fulfilled his place with a Stevie Wonder hands-clenched-eyes-closed-head-swaying performance. A full-house rendition of Isa Lei concluded the sessions ‘Mai Vorovoro…’ My Vorovoro indeed.
All that needs to happen now is the mastering of this great event. And if it sounds anywhere near as good as it did on the night – ‘Vorovoro Sessions’ should be downloaded more times than Marau’s been on the Malua Bus.
What a week to come home.
Tribe Member Slogg’s review of the Vorovoro Sessions