MayDay Concert review – Palmerston North

19 May

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Dion reports on MayDay Concert 2013, held at the Regent on Broadway, Palmerston North, Saturday 4 May: The Kate Martin School of Dance from Levin, won the MayDay Cup in front of a 500 plus, enthusiatic and at times rowdy audience, enjoying the great diverse programme on offer. 16 young dancers performed three very topical and relevant contemporary dance pieces, called “Youth of Aotearoa” in one fluid dance. A powerful imagery in “Office Mob” as they walked over people on stage, and then demonstrated great timing moving into “Treaty”, followed by “Nga Iwi E”, while combining hip hop and haka. At various times they held placards protesting youth rates and state asset sales

Singer/songwriter, and New Zealand Art Laureate, Moana Maniapoto, rocked the Regent in the second half, with a wonderful intimate set of songs that paid tribute to those who fought and continue to fight for workers rights. Moana was joined by the electronic keyboard wizard, Paddy Free (from Pitch Black) and the ultra experienced funky guitarist, Cadzow Cossar. Their haunting, “Which Side Are You On” was a highlight, followed closely by “Rebel”, “Timor”, “Ancestors”, and a special performance of “Treaty”, along with a stunning encore. Their wealth of overseas touring experience showed out in their sharp professional performance

In between music and dance, were well thought out presentations about various campaigns, visually projected onto the giant backwall screen. James Sleep from “the Living Wage”; Green MP, Denise Roche outlining the reasons to campaign against the Governments new Employment Relations Amendment Bill; John Maynard from ‘Ohariu Peoples Power’ created great audience participation and much humour as they repeatedly joined in his chorus of “bullshit”, to the Sale of State Assetts and the TPPA

Palmerston North City Councillor, Chris Teo Sherrell showed 2 striking video clips of the pollution of the Manawatu River, linking it to the same corporate uncaring attitude that impacts on workers, as he led into the introduction to the “Manawatu River Song” sung by the Brazen Hussies, accompanied by 12 year old Rosa Hehir on guitar. Rosa had been at the songwriters workshop that put together that song the day after MayDay Concert last year

Wellington band ‘Spanner in the Works’ demonstrated why they have to record their songs onto a CD for all to enjoy, as they punched out their jazzed up Ross Teppet led arrangements of “Power in a Union” and “Solidarity Forever” along with Peter Conway (on vocals and mandolin) with his stirringly original “Remember Waihi”. Those 2 were ably assisted by Bill Newson on lead guitar, Sue Windsor on keyboards and Lisa Beech on violin

The 6 piece rock band, ‘The Crew’ were a crowd favourite as they played up to their banner waving supporters. All are proud young and vibrant members of the RMTU and they showed great variations from originals to adapting cover versions

The Cailin Traditional Irish School of Dance, with colourful outfits, high stepped into a strong and speedy hard shoe “Hillsborough Reel”, depicting why Irish dancers hold their hands at their side, as a defiance in the midst of oppression

John Maynard launched the show with a powerful trumpet version of the famous worker and socialist anthem, “The Internationale”. Later on Chris Green, an economics teacher, who had last performed on the Regent stage in 2007 in the lead role of Jean Viljean in Les Miserables, showed his powerful voice with first an original he wrote, “Trickle Down”, followed by a booming polished version of “He aint Heavy”. He performed with 3 backing musicians under his bands name, ‘Shades of Green’

NZ music month was very much front and centre as Luc from France (on vocals and guitar) performed the Dave Dobbyn tune of James K Baxters poem, “Song of the Years”, to Tessa and Kate’s evocative Contemporary dance Choreography

The Brazen Hussies launched their first ever CD after 23 years (19 in a row at MayDay Concert) with lovely harmonies in “We Were There” that depicted the struggles of women down throughout the ages. They dedicated “Bella Ciao” to the Cuban 5 incarcerated in a US prison and ended their set with a strong audience response to “Join a Union”, to the tune of the Village People’s “YMCA”

The 5 judges for the MayDay Cup included the ‘Charge d’affairs’ from the Cuban Embassy, Manuel Sanchez, who loaned out the Cuban flag for the evening as it flew from the top of the stage. He brought out the international solidarity flavour to the night. The convenor of judges, Peter Conway, spoke to the audience at the end of the night about each of the performances and truly honoured each of them. The foyer at the interval was like a fleamarket as political parties, the ‘Pathfinder’ bookstall and other union and community organisations showed what they had to offer. Not a bad night out for union members, their families and communities for $5 per ticket

Dion Martin 021 776 029

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