Concert Review: Freya & Mema Wilda – The Vic Theatre July 16, 2021

17-year-old Freya celebrates the release of her EP, Wildest Creatures I’ve Dreamed with a very intimate show at a special venue with a very good friend, Mema Wilda warming up.

Yes, we ventured out to Devonport on this winter evening but the trip was worth it. The venue is The Old Vic, an historic building built in 1912. With films screening elsewhere, we were ushered into a cosy room off to the side that held 60-some fans and a small stage up front.

Despite her tender years, Freya has been here before… in fact, she started out performing at age 14. Now, at the ripe old age of 17, she presents her new EP.

As we settle into our seats, clutching cups of tea and coffee it becomes clear that this is a family affair. Fans have brought their children and the school holidays make their presence known.

Fortunately all are well-behaved, particularly the little 8-year old sitting next to me.

In the row just ahead sit Freya and Mema, waiting to get things going.

Mema and Freya are friends having met while busking and it’s clear that Mema, who we’ve covered elsewhere on 13th Floor, is here to support her friend.

Mema WildaWith that in mind she takes the stage, guitar in hand, congratulates Freya and notices the young children in the audience. “I’d better put on my filter”.

But it seems there is no filtering Mema. Her songs are raw and personal, borne out of a troubled childhood growing up in Samoa.

Introducing her set opener, Saviour, she tells us it was, “inspired by a lot of things I’ve got against the church in Samoa”.

So much for the filter.

Mema goes on to tell us how she was kicked out of school… an all girls Catholic school…and exorcised.


As she sang, one could hear the pain in her voice. The church may have tried to shake the demons out of her but she’s a survivor.

And though Mema tried to steer things more upbeat direction, it wasn’t to be.

New song, Israel, was written out of frustration. As she pointed out, it’s not about the country or the man’s name but rather her intense emotions that have her singing, “I want to be tortured physically”.

“There’s a dark pattern going on here”, she notes but instead of lightening the mood, she precedes Human with a story of how her parents were “a toxic couple” and she bonded with her elderly auntie who, sadly suffered from Alzheimer’s. Now, as a teen, she was force to care for the mother figure who she depended on to look after her.

Overtaken with emotion, Mema broke down weeping at the end of this very special, very personal performance.

So,  where to next? How about a cover? How about Leonard Cohen’s You Want It Darker? Fortunately the youngsters had dozed off by then. Again, Mema proved to be a singular performer and one could feel old Lenny smiling from above.

We got one more cover… Pearl Jam’s Indifference… turns out Mema had a crush on Eddie Vedder. Again, she did the song proud.

50 minutes after starting out, Mema Wilda wrapped up her 9-song set with a new number. So Tired has “the devil looking over my coat,” Wilda’s voice almost cracking as she closes out her part of the show… the crowd silent and stunned.

This was one of the most moving performances I’ve seen in a very long time.

How was young Freya going to follow that?

FreyaA brief break gave us all a chance to gather ourselves and Freya nervously took the stage, her dad helping out on sound and giving a little introduction.

Refreshed and cooled down (it was getting warm in there) Freya found her place after a false start… no guitar in the PA… and she sounded simply lovely.

Granted, there was no way she was going to match Mema’s intensity… but this was no contest and Mema was back in her seat cheering Freya on.

With a voice like a young Joni Mitchell, Freya’s songs were primarily about falling in love and then falling out of love. I’m sure after a few more years, she’ll have more life experience to draw from, but for now she is doing just fine.

Eventually, she put down her guitar and performed the 5 songs that comprise the new EP from start to finish, using a backing track played from her laptop.

Personally, I prefer live instruments to backing tracks, but, again Freya sounded lovely, wrapping up with Liquid Honey.

I hope Freya and Mema remain friends, growing as artists and inspiring each other.

Marty Duda