11 July 2017, St Paul’s Church, Napier
At this concert of Anika Moa’s the children outnumber the adults, the audience participation is high, and the bar is non-existent. It is 10am, and the cold hall is being warmed up by ancient heaters hanging from the walls. I am reminded of primary-school years attending pantomimes.
I can spot four older children, maybe 7-10, and they’re mostly sitting close to their mothers and watching. They look bored. There’s hundreds of small children, or maybe one hundred – which feels like many more – and they’re totally into it. Anika has only to say once, “Come up to the front and boogey!” and they’re there for the duration, with breaks along the way for muesli bars, marmite sandwiches and swigs of water. I love the wild abandon with which children dance, and judging by the broad smile on Anika’s face, she loves it too. She seems to genuinely enjoy the interaction, the delight on their faces and their innocent participation in favourite numbers. I am amazed when the song involving karate kicks doesn’t end in pandemonium and ambulance sirens.
I’m a bit alarmed by one song, which Anika prefaces with a story about how it’s difficult to get to sleep some nights because animals come into her room and eat her food. I’m guessing it’s a story borne out of motherhood and the creative ways in which we assure our children that they can protect themselves from the monsters of sleep. What alarms me is the ease with which 100 children can yell out “Go Away RABBIT” with vehemence. Transpose this scene to a school playground and much of the dispute resolution that we strive for is going out the window. I’d love to hear a song about inviting the rabbit in for dinner and giving him a bed and seeing that he has everything he needs too.
Having said that, I don’t have Anika’s CDs of children’s music, so I’m not familiar with the songs or the lyrics and sometimes it’s hard to hear what’s being sung about. I’m sure there is a lot I’m missing from songs and the stories that surround them. The sound seems to bounce of the walls and fold in on itself – a kind of echo – which adds to the happy racket of children enjoying themselves. Which, of course, is the point: The children are enjoying themselves.