Hugh Masekela- Auckland Arts Festival



I got a stitch from dancing too hard (is there such a thing?!) by the end of Hugh Masekela’s set. It was so much fun! This man is the godfather of Afrojazz and it is easy to see why. He is a crazily talented performer, an activist and quite the charmer. Supported by a 5-piece band, Hugh brought his A-game and I was transported right back to Africa. There were clearly a number of his South African fans in the audience who were also appreciating him coming to Auckland.


The first thing I noticed about his voice was how soft and rich and deep it was. That lasted for approximately 2 minutes before he started busting out his vocal acrobatics. This man can DO THINGS with his voice. Wow. His incredible range and clever vocal manipulations mean you would be forgiven for thinking his one voice was in fact many. Throughout the night, he flowed effortlessly from singing to trumpeting to cow belling to dropping it like it was very very hot. Seriously. He can drop lower than I can, and he’s 73 (which I found out after, we’d guessed early 60s at the most).


He even got us doing a bit of crowd participation, and was apparently quite impressed ‘Are you sure you are not from Soweto?’. Charmer. He also gave us a bit of vibrato training when we weren’t getting it quite right, like the showman that he is.


Whilst a lot of it was fun and up beat, he also took time to dedicate a song to victims of extreme weather and very eloquently spoke of how we (humans) thought we owned the sea and air but that nature would always defend herself. He asked us, when we got home and we were feeling safe and happy, to remember how fortunate we are. And then he played Coal Train. *shivers down the spine*

TDB Recommends


He told us off for being greedy because we said ‘no!’ when he asked if we’d had enough. But clearly had no qualms with playing more. The passion, skill and genuine joy from the musicians was energising and his encore turned into the happiest dance party I’ve been to in a long time. The aisles and the front were packed with people shakin’ their thangs (this was when I got the stitch). Everyone had ear-to-ear smiles and our cheers became a 7th instrument.


Comments are closed.