This morning I’m awfully tired. I struggled to sleep last night but not because of your typical insomnia causes, but because I couldn’t shake the spine-tingling sensation I picked up at the Sol3 Mio concert.
The opera trio played Wellington’s TSB Bank Arena last night in an encore show after their first gig at the Michael Fowler Centre sold out and received rave reviews. Last night I learnt why.
These Kiwi boys, originally hailing from Samoa, are a star act. Not only can they sing opera anthems like Nessun Dorma, The Prayer and Nella Fantasia so beautifully you want to cry but they can normalise opera music and make it more accessible to the masses. They achieve this with their humour. You wouldn’t think opera would work well alongside a comedy act but Sol3 Mio pull this off with their witty gags which are on show not only between songs but mid song. Sometimes they are even written into the arrangements of certain songs.
It’s PG humour, simple yet fun. The most contagious thing about it is you know the brothers, Pene and Amitai and their cousin Moses Mackay, are having the time of their life up there just being together, doing what they love and having a laugh. I would kill to have footage of the audiences facial expressions throughout the show. Pene described it as an emotional rollercoaster at one point and he was spot on. Never before have I been listening to a passionate, beautifully sung aria with tears welling up in my eyes only to then laugh my head off as the Sol3 Mio boys turn the song ‘sexy’ or simply look at each other with a proud smile and a classic Samoan giggle.
The trio last night chose a stunning selection of songs to perform, it catered perfectly to their mixed audience of all ages. They had the opera classics down pat and to a superb quality showcasing their extensive training. Pene had cleverly arranged songs to cater for their voices which is a tricky task given he and his brother are both tenors. But it wasn’t only opera you got last night, in the mix were lots of old favourites including a lovely rendition of Hallelujah, Ten Guitars which was performed like a comedy skit in which they pretended to sing it in Italian but actually just put a silly twang on each word and The Rose which was emotionally dedicated to their mothers.
It was a fantastic feeling to be a part of an audience which the performers so obviously appreciated and respected. While a lot of the trios jokes made fun of the people sitting in front of them it was done in a fun, lighthearted manner. It almost made me wish they were going to single me out in the crowd next when normally I’d be shrinking in my seat in such situations. They took on West Side Story’s Maria and sang it wonderfully as a dedication to not only the Maria’s in the audience but also the Marie’s, Margaret’s and Malcolm’s. When Pene trilled “I just met a girl named Margarita” laughter echoed raucously throughout the arena.
Audience participation was a key part of the show. The crowd sang along to the Sound of Music’s Edelweiss, given the task of out-singing every other concert crowd in their nation-wide tour. It was a touching moment hearing a crowd of thousands singalong (and actually in tune!) to such a moving song, very different to every other concert singalong I’ve taken part in which has mostly consisted of screaming.
Everyone was sad when the show was to come to an end but Pene kept saying “we’re going out with a bang” and that’s exactly what they did. The trio put on a stunning performance of We Are Samoa, a song which means a lot to them as a group of which you could certainly tell. Then the final number, Neapolitan classic ‘O Sole Mio brought back the shiver-in-your-seat effect as their voices roused an excitement and sense of awe in the crowd once again.
Go out and buy their album and be sure to head along and see them next time they’re touring because this trio is one to watch. Sol3 Mio have a whole heap of talent and pizzazz to go with it. They’re a superb act and deserve international credit.