W.I.T.C.H. – Hollywood Avondale: March 13, 2024 (Concert Review)

W.I.T.C.H. performed at the Hollywood Avondale last night and The 13th Floor’s Simon Coffey was on the scene, as was photographer Aaron Christiansen.

W.I.T.C.H. stands for We Intend To Cause Havoc.

W.I.T.C.H. originally from Zambia, the band formed as the nation escaped the yoke of imperial domination.

W.I.T.C.H. are rumoured to have (at least) once played a seven-hour show.

W.I.T.C.H. are possibly the last and greatest original Zamrock band on the planet Earth!

W.I.T.C.H. reformed around original members Jagari Chanda (Vocals) and Patrick Mwondela (keyboards) in 2012. 

W.I.T.C.H. play a synthesis of traditional African music, psych-blues, and funk, they were originally influenced by bands like Black Sabbath, Blue Cheer and Cream.

W.I.T.C.H. released a new album in 2023 called Zango, their first album in nearly 40 years.

W.I.T.C.H. tonight is (quite possibly) Patrick Mwondela, Nico Mauskoviç, Jacco Gardner and Charlie Garmendia, JJ Whitefield, Jagari Chanda, Stefan Lilov, Theresa Ng’ambi and Hanna Tembo. 

Leonard Charles (Group)

Is multi-instrumentalist, composer, producer and arranger Jeremy Toy of Opensouls plus bass player Chip Matthews, drummer Tom Broome and Ruby Walsh (of LIPS) on Leonard Charlespercussion in tow.

It starts with sampled voice (which was to be a feature through the set) language is straight out of the ””60s/70s, over the band’s minimal musicianship, which leads into a funky jazz reminiscent of 90s locals New Loungehead, a healthy dose of Sun Ra and a skewer towards Everything But The Girl. Mid-set it gets a lot more funky and vocal and energized and retro and disco, and there is a realization, while their collective musical-mana is undeniable, it’s the percussionist that gives the band’s sound a greater edge and emotionally connected vibe.

Their last tune of the night is from the band’s reinterpretation of J Dilla’s 2006 landmark album Donuts, 2016’s Basement Donuts. It’s a killer track. If Leonard Charles were Poneke/Wellington based they’d have a mid-week residency in a very hip bistro/bar. 


The young folk busily check their instruments and soon create a beat, a song from 1976 Thou Shall Not Cry, and then the cheers arise as Jagari Chanda (who brings snacks to eat onstage), and Patrick Mwondela arrive on stage alongside dancers/singers Theresa Ng’ambi and Hanna Tembo, no better start could’ve been anticipated. The crowd are already dancing and grooving to this psych-funk taonga.

With nine onstage, it is a truely impressive sight as Jagari is humble in his joy at being in Aotearoa/New Zealand, and quietly connects with the audience before launching into a song from 1974, “Now Let’s talk about the past – my past,” Living In The Past. While Patrick Mwondela is stolid at his keyboard set-up, Jagari has been rather sprightly for a 71-year-old, but it is the energy and passion of the group’s dancers/singers Theresa Ng’ambi and Hanna Tembo that keep the crowd in motion, feeding the energy of motion and harmony into the room.


After more conversation, it’s clear Jagari loves being the focal point once again, Waille is rolled out from 2023s Zango, the new material created a new generation of musicians, and exudes a revitalized vibrancy, but still encapsulates the core elements of the 70s version of the band. Time and time again It’s the chops and changes, the dips, dives and returns as well as the mid-song time shifts that carves W.I.T.C.H.s mark into the soundscape of musical history.

Introduction (from their 1973 album of the same name) is mega-morphed into a staged break-down and spectacle presentation of all on stage. It is passionate, full of aroha, as throughout, beats and a funk flow, profoundly Jagari delights in sharing his new family with Witchhis newfound friends. Jagari passes the reins to the talented Theresa and Hanna as the two take turns leading a song each from Zango.

With an elaborated tale of Zambian oral history chatty Jagari introduces Nazingwa from 1977’s Witch, which has an almost The Stranglers keyboards sound, and leads a trio of set ending tunes that includes By the Time You Realize and show high-light Lazy Bones.

The crowd are hoping for an encore, the crowd are braying for more, and we are treated, nay, teased by Jagari with not two, but three more, including a cover of Funky Chicken. It screams early Rolling Stones, as Percussionist and Drummer swap over. As the evening comes to an end, we are left with a feeling of having been privileged to see a truly special show.

Simon Coffey

Click on any image to view a photo gallery by Aaron Christiansen:


Leonard Charles:

Catch Witch in Wellington tonight:

Thursday 14th March – Meow, Wellington

Tickets available via Banished Music