‘Mzaza’ was spellbinding.
The Spiegeltent was packed to the rafters on Sunday afternoon and electric energy pulsated throughout room as the audience waited in anticipation for Mzaza to take to the stage. Upon entering the Spiegeltent, you could have been anywhere in the world, with voluminous stretches of red and gold fabric, complemented by dark wooden chairs and pylons, an exotic and mysterious atmosphere was created – an appropriate setting for an artist like Mzaza. With influences from France, Spain, the Middle-East and the Balkans, their music filled the Spiegeltent to the rafters, keeping toes tapping, and transporting us to places far, far away.
Mzaza comprises of a six-piece group, including Pauline Maudy on vocals, Greta Kelly on violin and shahkaman, Jordan Stamos on percussion (including tombak, darabuka and bendir), John Robertson on guitar, Goran Gajic on double bass, and Ance Deksne on accordion. Combined, the six create a formidable musical atmosphere, full to the brim with beauty, sentimentality, and fun.
As vocalist and spokesperson for the band, Maudy’s stage presence filled the space. Her storytelling ability through song and dialogue, even when singing numbers written entirely in French, was impressive. This, accompanied by a versatile vocal tone that ranged from full and rich, to bright and bubbly, allowed for each song to be truly celebrated, as well as carrying the underlying stories.
Kelly took full advantage of her ability to move about the stage. Joy radiated from her as she danced and stepped along to the music – allowing her musicality to affect her whole body. Her talent on the violin is formidable, though her talent on the shahkaman – a middle-eastern stringed instrument – added an extra element of intrigue and exotic beauty to Mzaza’s music that truly transported the audience.
Stamos, Roberston, Gajic and Deksne were of equal musical prowess, and their individual solos emphasised their technical and musical ability, while their steady rhythmic and melodic playing beautifully permeated the music, and the venue, throughout.
Mzaza presented a show filled with life and character. The combination of their European and Middle-Eastern influences make for a truly spellbinding show that is sure to entrance people just discovering the genre or those who are lifelong fans.
Mzaza played at the Courier-Mail Spiegeltent, as part of Brisbane Festival. More information on upcoming concerts and CDs can be found at Mzaza’s Website.