Concert Review: Mema Wilda – Anthology Lounge, January 23, 2021

Impressive new talent just keeps on coming here in NZ. Lockdown be damned, there is plenty of cool music being made by locals to last us. Last night it was Mema Wilda who was celebrating the release of a new single with a full band set at Anthology Lounge.

Yes, the list of new artists just keeps growing…recently we’ve covered Colette Rivers, Adam Hattaway, Lou’ana, Melanie, Cloudy, Hina…and now we can add two more to the list, Mema Wilda and Shimna Higgins.

Shimna Higgins

Shimna Higgins opened the proceedings last night. We saw her here at The 13th Floor recently accompanying Sam Bartells. Now the violinist/guitarist is doing her own thing. Sam was on hand to give support as this was Shimna’s first solo gig in a very long time.

Despite hands shaking from nerves, she performed beautifully beginning with an original tune featuring looped violin and strong vocals. The classically-infused number got things rolling, earning the young performer a big round of applause.

“I needed to hear that” she told the crowd.

From then on it was clear sailing with a few well-chosen covers…a meditative take of Dylan’s Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright, a nod to Adele in the form of Daydreamer and a dreamy Slow Burn, the Kasey Musgraves cover that Shimna used to kick off her YouTube channel a couple of weeks ago.

The 40 minute set closed with another new original tune…one she claims to have written just days ago. Possibly titled Lack Of You, it’s an angry diatribe aimed at a former lover. “Did you think I was a doormat”, she spits out.

With violin back under the chin, Shimna ended her portion of the show with a jig she wrote in Christchurch called That’s A Wrap.

Mema Wilder

The crowd was clearly won over, with headliner Mema Wilda leading the cheering.

It didn’t take long for Mema and her band to take the stage themselves. Mema was singing and playing acoustic guitar and the least of the band included guitarist Kent Adam Mori, drummer Shellita Goldsmith and new boy Sam Stretch on bass.

Mema proved she has a rock and roll heart opening with a tune called Mortality powered by Shellita’s thundering drums. Fortunately Mema has a voice to match and off we went…

With a set that lasted just under 40 minutes, Mema proved that it’s best to leave the crowd wanting more. Highlights included Graceful Harlot where Kent got to throw out some twangy licks and the Da Da Da Da chorus reminding this old coot of Mary Hopkins with a dash of Marianne Faithfull.

The vibe in the room was like a family get together. Indeed Shimna’s dad was in the crowd as was Mema’s brother, himself a working musician.

Mema closed things out with How I Long, the single being released on the day and then, after some brief discussion on stage, a crack at Billie Eilish’s Bad Guy (for a LOL).

It’s been another fine night of excellent new talent here in Auckland. How many more new artists are there out there waiting to show us their stuff? I can’t wait for next weekend!

Marty Duda

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Shimna Higgins