It was just a videographer and I in an Auckland studio with the three Gold Coast-based Kiwi singers, filming an interview which was also being viewed live via Facebook by some 15,000-odd Koi Boy fans. At the end they burst into song – unplanned and unrehearsed, and utterly nailed it.
Two years and two albums later, The Koi Boys have definitely still got the vocal chops and the stage presence to hold a crowd in the palm of their hand, as evidenced by (most of) their Friday-night performance at Rehab Rarotonga last week.
While well-known for their flawless covers of old-school hits – they kicked the night off with a beautifully harmonised version of The Temptations’ My Girl – The Koi Boys seem to be equally at home in almost any genre and their set at Rehab encompassed everything from reggae and soul to hip-hop, R&B, pop – and even country.
The deep-voiced Danny Faifai particularly impressed early on, doing his best Barry White on Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love Baby, much to the enthusiastic appreciation of certain female members of the audience.
Building on this momentum, the boys then rolled straight into a rollicking rendering of Shaggy’s Luv Me, Luv Me, with Faifai’s vocals leaving me half-convinced I was listening to a recording of Mr Boombastic himself at one point. Ngahere “Nuz” Ngatai and his sweet tones also served as a suitable stand-in for the Janet Jackson/Samantha Cole chorus.
Things just got better from here on out as the trio – completed by Kevin Keepa, laid into the aforementioned Sh-Boom, Peter Andre’s pop hit Mysterious Girl, Blurred Lines, All Night Long and a host of others, all of which had both the VIP and general admission area jumping and gyrating.
The highlight – or perhaps lowlight, of the evening for me was the moment my saintly, almost 60-year-old mother (who incidentally seemed to fit in much better with the average demographic of the crowd than I did), got up and started dancing with her hands in the air to Too Close, by Next. You know the one – the chorus features the line, “Baby when we’re grinding, I get so excited”.
A sight like that is almost worth the price of admission alone – or instead maybe refunds for all those forced to witness it. (Just kidding, love ya Mum.)
If I was to level one piece of criticism at The Koi Boys and their show on Friday night, it would only be that it went on too damn long.
After a pretty much unfailingly entertaining first half, the boys took a break as a light but persistent drizzle began to fall, although this did nothing to dampen the atmosphere as the DJ kept things going while The Koi Boys themselves moved through the crowd, cracking jokes and taking pictures with the punters.
With the rain easing off, the boys returned to the stage and kept up their parade of hits, channelling James Brown, Rihanna and T-Pain, among others, all to great effect. When you see people dancing with their eyes closed to Sexual Healing you know something’s working right?
However, sometime around midnight – not long after a suitably bouncy delivery of Stevie Wonder’s Superstition – things started to head ever so slightly downhill.
And when the boys came together to sing Prince Tui Teka’s E Ipo – while admittedly a beautiful song – I couldn’t help but feel that what had once been an energy-packed show with nary a misstep to be seen or mislaid vocal to be heard had degenerated somewhat into one of those family singalongs led by that drunken old uncle who just won’t give up the guitar.
That said, there’s no denying the power, talent and appeal of all three of those Koi Boy voices and for the most part it really was a fantastic night out.
Meitaki Maata to Rehab for the two complimentary passes that made this review possible.