Muroki – Hollywood Avondale: October 14, 2022

Muroki is currently on a headline tour of NZ and brought his most recent EP Heading East to Tamaki Makaurau’s classy Hollywood Avondale last Friday night. 

Wellington based multi-instrumentalist/producer Arjuna Oaks and indie-pop 5 piece Park Road have been touring alongside Muroki as openers for his NZ tour.

Park Road

Park Road are becoming familiar faces to The Hollywood Avondale, it was only a few weeks ago when they were gracing the same stage opening for Balu Brigada. Their set stayed mostly the same, not surprisingly since it had only been a few weeks since they last played here. 

This time however, they are all dressed in black, a seemingly conscious decision but one that doesn’t spark a lot of visual excitement under the stark blue and red lights. The uniformity is cool but the dark shades work against them and if they were wearing a multitude of colours, perhaps it would better suit their high energy indie-pop-rock.

The crowd was welcoming and interactive. Frontman Tom Chamberlain is sporting a new mullet and someone exuberantly yells…

“I love the haircut Tom!”

The positive energy from the crowd reaches the stage and Tom thanks the audience for the abundance of “warm, lovely vibes.”

We are swimming in technical issues that sometimes throw off the mood of the night but overall the sound is better and more balanced than it was for their last gig here with Balu Brigada.

Despite all this, Park Rd deliver killer song after song and their catchy songwriting skills,  incredibly familiar melodies and infectious on-stage energy get the entire crowd moving in no time.

Fall down, a new tune of their next body of work, is a bit of a slower one for Park Rd, in a scrunch up your face like you just smelled the sweaty people next to you and bop your head involuntarily along to the rock steady backbeat kind of way.

It is cool to notice the variation within the crowd. There is quite a healthy spread, from the screaming fangirls clutching onto the stage edge to the elderly couples who put their reading glasses on to capture the most special moments on their smartphones, and even a few ten year olds sprinting past. 


For such a gorgeous venue the lighting is rather disappointing and tends to wash out the performers more than highlight them. But as Muroki takes over the stage, the lights relievingly improve to be more warm and white rather than dull blue and red.

Hitting straight into the groove with Light Me Up, Muroki immediately captures the eyes of the audience and the room quickly fills up with people. Reggae meets funk-pop over a very minimal backing track of vocal harmonies for this tune and it is the beginning of a setlist of bangers. 

The simple track is killer and in combination with the additional vocals, percussion and sub synths, adds some serious depth to the band’s performance as they transition straight into the second song Introducing.

Raglan-based Kenyan/kiwi artist Muroki is looking just as steezy as always with a pair of groovy pink framed glasses that he takes on and off throughout the set. From the guitarists suit pants to Arjuna’s loose two piece suit, the bass players button-up and Ponsonby beanie and of course, the sunnies, everything ties into this style to make it more of a mood. 

As the set continues the backing tracks become more and more stacked. Guitars and backing vocals now dance on top of an array of percussion and reverb soaked synthesisers.

There is a really nice balance throughout the set between songs that slide into the next, and moments of space where Muroki will tell a short backstory about a song or interact with the crowd. 

One thing is certain, these guys are incredibly well-rehearsed. The set is smooth and everyone knows what they are doing and when. 

Muroki shares with us a new unreleased tune that fits right into the groovy set. It is nice to hear some really new sounds that contrast nicely with the classic surfy sound of some of his earlier singles such as Wavy and Surfing.

Muroki opens up about For Better or for Worse being about ripping off a bandage of rejection asking the audience…

“Have you guys ever been in love with someone who doesn’t feel the same way?”

It’s indeed a much more emotional song, a bit slower but no less groovey than the others. The soulful lyrics “Don’t go, I’ve never had my soul open up like this before” sit lightly between stunning well-spaced and thoughtful guitar solos.

Arjuna Oakes kicks off the next song with a huge arpeggio-laden piano intermission while Muroki swaps to acoustic.

Muroki dedicates this song Found in Nairobi to “his brother” a friend Amara “who is no longer with us”. 

He shares with us that Amara means immortal and it is incredibly special and intimate to share this moment with him as he openly but softly grieves through his music.

Drifting from this acoustic moment back into the swing of things he pops into his newest release Simple Pleasures co-written with Leisure. The fresh song goes off live with a more old school disco sound similar to the likes of Neil Rodgers

Drifting from this acoustic moment back into the swing of things, the song that is on repeat in malls and supermarkets throughout Aotearoa gets the crowd moving. Surfing, is one of the by-now-classics and is a definite crowd pleaser. The groove makes it feel like summer and works well with the more lighthearted lyrics. 

A massive bass and drum only groove provides Muroki to put his steezy sunnies back on and smoothly slide into the Te Reo version of his best selling, platinum hit, Wavy/Rehu Rehu.

Saying goodnight and heading off stage doesn’t last for long. The band has only left the stage for 10 seconds when the crowd starts chanting for one more song. 

Arjuna walks back on stage and plays some zesty chords to the beat that the crowd is clapping. The band struts back up and plays an intimate tune about travelling and all the untold stories that lie behind the romanticised concept of packing a bag and backpacking Europe.

Finishing off with a bang, they launch into Find Me a disco dance like track that is placed perfectly as a finisher. The audience throws themselves around, using up every last drop of energy as Muroki ditches the guitar and dances with the front row. 

By Jemilah Ross-Hayes and Koen Aldershof

Click on any image to view a photo gallery by Jemilah Ross-Hayes


Park Road: