The Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra

Good time band of misfits and mates The Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra is making a summer appearance at Auckland’s hippest new performance hub, Q Theatre.
Karina Abadia
Published on February 06, 2012


The last time I saw the Wellington International Ukulele band play was a couple of years ago and I was pretty much blown away by their energy, low key approach, beautiful harmonies and how with only a double bass and a bunch of miniature guitars they were able to create such a great sound.

This time round performing at the fabulous Q Theatre, they have loads more songs to play around with, sound even tighter and seem to have a more relaxed feel as a band. Expect no prepared observations about our fair city from these guys, they work off the cuff and are much more entertaining for it.

As before, I was struck by how intimate the gig was. Watching this band play feels a bit like watching your mates jam together in your living room - highly entertaining and witty musically accomplished friends that is. From the start, Age Pryor encouraged the audience to ask questions, shout out comments, dance, sing and generally get involved. While this Auckland crowd took a while to get warmed up, by the second half and after a couple of drinks they were clearly getting into it. Just a shame there wasn't any space to dance, I reckon more than a few of the people bopping about on their chairs wouldn't have hesitated to get up given the chance.

The band played local and international hits from various decades and genres, including Duran Duran, Cindy Lauper, Justine Timberlake, Jessie J, Don McGlashan, The Bats and Neil Diamond to name a few. The highlights for me were All Through the Night - the harmonies here were heavenly and they had everyone toe-tapping to their glorious upbeat versions of Joline and crowd favourite, Africa. This is the song people kept requesting until finally at the end of the set, they got their wish.

Another highlight of the show was the surprise guests. Legendary actress and director Jennifer Ward Leyland, looking resplendent in a silk flowing royal blue dress made an appearance on the ukulele and shortly afterwards we were treated to musician Tama Waipara in a union jack decorated waistcoat playing Mozart on the clarinet, beautiful.

This group of musicians make it easy to forget that they're actually a covers band. Probably because the sound they create is so unique and the harmonies so pitch perfect that you tend to just get absorbed in the music. Sadly their third performance tonight at Q is already booked out but this is only the first stop on the band's 'I Love You' national tour to promote their new album of the same name. Some other venues are also sold out but apparently there are plenty of tickets left for the Wanganui, Greymouth and Invercargill shows so tell your mates there to get along and spread the love!


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