Hawkes Bay Arts Festival / 21 October 2018 / Spiegeltent, Havelock North / By Johnny Ryan
There is an enormous desire to comment on the scale of things when you watch and listen to this fantastic ukulele ensemble out of West Auckland; so we’ll just slide by the fact it tends towards a family show and absolutely say that things may be small but these guys sure know how to use them.
Dave “Fingers of Fire” Parker, David “Snapper” Thiele and Benjamin “Country Boy” Collier, with a lot of help from newbie Chris on drums, had the Spiegeltent clapping and stamping their way through a variety of bluesy, cheeky, sometimes hilarious songs that the lads have put together themselves over the years of their ukulele bonding.
The original trio have entertained us in Hawke’s Bay a number of times. They have a style and rapport all of their own and always prove to anyone lucky enough to come and listen, that ukuleles have an impressive range of musicality when used in the right way: With energy, zest, rhythm and a touch of the hoedown.
Parker and Collier kicked off with some great songs and a now improved percussion thanks to Chris. Parker has a wonderful bass string on his tenor ukulele that beats out everything you need to keep your pulse moving while Collier’s fingers dance up and down his instrument. They were three or four songs in and half way through the old classic “Peas ‘N Carrots” when Thiele arrived late after a full body massage… (It must be a strain having that banjolele down so low on his ab.) However, he was quickly forgiven as Snapper proved yet again to be a master of the one-liner (or ten-liner-oblique), that leaves you laughing along with the rest of the band and soon had us all in the palm of his banjo-hand and under the sway of his deep, bass voice.
The Nukes played a variety of their old and new songs. All of them come with their own flavour and tempo, depending to a large extent on who has written them it would seem: Fingers of Fire Parker tends towards slower, more musical numbers like “Island Queen” while Country Boy heads towards slightly funnier, up-tempo songs along the lines of “Salad Dragon” and Snapper drops down an octave into some low level thumping blues.
It was a treat to have them here in the Bay again. The Spiegeltent was a perfect venue for them and brought out their best. The music was as warm and encompassing as Snapper’s fine moustache must feel on the microphone.
A lovely performance from all of them… because size does matter when small is beautiful.
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