Thursday, March 30, 2017
Anuhea - World Cafe Live, Philadelphia, 3/22/2017: A Delightful Bit Of Hawaii Heats Up A Frigid Night, Plus Sets By Mahi & WonderBoy
Anuhea played at the upstairs venue of World Cafe Live for the second time on Wednesday, March 22nd. It was four years less one day since her last show there on March 23, 2013. We arrived nice and early, which was good for a couple of reasons. We got a great location right up front, which you'll see in the videos. We had time for a leisurely dinner. The World Cafe menu is always interesting, and the food is always good. And finally, as we sat down, Anuhea began her soundcheck, which was a nice and lengthy version of "Higher Than the Clouds", the song that she chose to close her set. She left the stage to her guitarist Mahi, who played some dazzling lead guitar.
The show began with an opening set by Philly local BoyWonder (Andre Coles), who sang accompanying himself on acoustic guitar. According to his bio, he grew up in West Philadelphia, "Andre was exposed to a myriad of music genres Blues, Jazz, Motown, Philly International, and Gospel yet the Police remained his number one inspiration." He did a wide ranging set of mostly originals that was quite enjoyable; watch the videos of "Love Struck" and "Toxic (Britney Spears cover)" shot at the show.
After a break, Anuhea's band took the stage. Guitarist Mahi warmed up the crowd, accompanied by Jason on bass and Revelation on drums. Mahi played "Kissing You", a great sounding original, composition and a number of soul covers starting with a terrific version of Roberta Flack's "Killing Me Softly". Even if he was possibly covering The Fugees version, the result was excellent just the same. Jason then began the iconic bass riff that opens "My Girl" (Temptations) and Mahi knew he had another crowd pleaser. In light of the music's innate appeal, Mahi perhaps didn't need to come on so strong with audience participation, but the crowd liked him regardless. When taking requests some fan who knew his music made him a happy man by asking for another of his original tunes, but the request he wound up settling on was a Jackson 5 oldie. Check out videos "Killing Me Softly (Roberta Flack cover)", "Kissing You", "I Want You Back (Jackson Five cover)", and Shining Star (The Manhattans cover).
When the band started the next number, Mahi introduced Anuhea who launched into her set with "Come Over Love". Her set was so well constructed that it seemed like, for the first half hour, each new song began as the previous song ended, some even overlapping like a good radio segue.
Anuhea's band was superb. Jason on bass and Revelation on drums were so rock steady that I think they could have given any song the full Jamaican reggae treatment. They played some mighty fine "riddim". Mahi is an enormously gifted guitarist whether he's dazzling on his Fender Stratocaster or voicing beautiful moodswings on his acoustic. He also sang with Anuhea on a couple of tunes. This band is talented, tight, and you can see why Anuhea brings them with her from Hawaii.
When she played "Island Inside Me" from her first album, she mentioned that it had been eight years since that debut was released in 2009. That record put her on my map, making my list of the ten best albums of that year. She has a great singing voice with a facility for rap, which she busts out from time to time, like on the encore when she introduced and invited each band member to take a solo. Anuhea is naturally at ease with the audience, telling long stories over the intros, which sounds quite like an old friend bringing you up to date on what she's been up to.
Anuhea is also a super songwriter. Her music blends rock, pop, soul, and reggae into something that comes out decidedly Hawaiian. She can more than hold her own with more well-known singer songwriters. Anuhea said that she's been doing some recording in L.A. for her next album and she plans to go back next month to do more. She also mentioned that it will be on a new label (her third). I think that with the right exposure, Anuhea could see the breakthrough that her music deserves.
Many thanks to World Cafe Live for the excellent lighting and sound.
Many thanks also to Beverly Kates for camera work and to Lindsey Mitchell for video production.
Watch "Come Over Love"
Setlist: Click song to watch.
01. Come Over Love
02. Only Man in the World
03. Looking for Love
04. Big Deal
05. I Just Want You Around (including Drop, Baby Drop)
06. Forever Summer
07. Sweet Thing
08. Island Inside Me
09. Simple Love Song
11. Higher Than The Clouds
12. Send My Love (to your new lover)[Adele Cover] w/ band solos