Chè-Fu & The Kratez With The Auckland Philharmonia – Auckland Town Hall: June 27, 2024

The Auckland Philharmonia is getting around these days. Last week they performed with Brooke Fraser now here they are jamming with Chè-Fu.

Che FuThis time around the 70-piece orchestra is being conducted by David Kay and they are more than up to the challenge.

On the surface, a collaboration with a hip-hop artist like Chè-Fu might seem either unlikely, unwise of just a novelty act, but none of those things was true on this wintry night in Auckland.

With the first set due to begin at 7:30, the crowd was still jostling for positions at the bar as the time approached. Fortunately things started slightly later, with the orchestra tuning up at about 7:40. The audience was an interesting mix of old and young, all colours, genders and ideologies…as much as can be determined by a casual glance.

The Philharmonia warmed up with what built in to a somewhat thunderous prelude before Chè-Fu and his Kratez took the stage for a feisty Roots Man…with the orchestra sitting quietly while the 6-man band got into some “hip-hop to the maximum”.

Che FuThey quickly joined in for Machine Talk…the tympani and chimes starting the prelude, with the strings sounding positively heavenly. Chè-Fu and band locked right in and, yes, this sounds like a collaboration that will work.

“I’ll be straight up with you, announces Chè-Fu, I’m feeling a little flash right right now!”

And well he should.

While the vocals were perhaps mixed a bit low, the music was sounding on the money.

Lightwork, from 2006’s Beneath The Radar, elicited a scream from an ecstatic audience member.

“That was in the key of C”, chortled Chè.

A distinct highlight of the first set was Chè-Fu’s scratching along with the orchestra’s performance or Karl Jenkins’ Palladio (the 1st movement for you train spotters)I’m rarely impressed with this kind of showcase but tonight was a big exception.

Timing in at 35 minutes, set one closed with Chains, the orchestra adding a special zing to this fan favourite.

Set 2 was longer and even better.

Yellow lights were streaming down on the orchestra as they tuned, then performed pioneering New Zealand composer Dorothy Buchanan’s Peace Fanfare. Meanwhile the band took the stage and soon we were treated to a soulful Waka, from Chè-Fu’s classic 1998 album, 2 B.S. Pacific.

The classic soul continued with Song of The Year winner Scene III and then Spin1 featuring Aaradhna reprising her original role and the energy level rising as the strings swirled.

Che Fu

The 10-song set was well-paced, Sitting Inside My Head rocked while Random and Hold Tight sounded sweet, particularly with Chè-Fu’s eldest son Loxmyn’s sax playing.

“Get up out your seats, y’all!”

Che FuAnd up we got and the night came to an end with Fade-Away and a second helping of Spin 1. Aaradhna was back on stage, the audience was on their feet singing and dancing and all was good with the world, at like on this tiny patch of Godzone.

We found ourselves streaming out onto the pavement just after 9:30, with many of us wondering what we could get up to next as the next day was a holiday.

What a splendid was to usher in Matariki.

Marty Duda

Photos courtesy Sav Schulman

Set 1:

  1. Roots Man
  2. Machine Talk
  3. The Abyss
  4. Lightwork
  5. Hoodies
  6. Palladio Jam
  7. Chains

Set 2:

  1. Peace Fanfare
  2. Waka
  3. Scene III
  4. Spin 1
  5. Misty Frequencies
  6. Sitting Inside My Head
  7. Random
  8. Hold Tight
  9. Fade-Away
  10. Spin 1 (Reprise)