Electric Wire Hustle

VISITNG MUSICIANS: A fusion of African and Asian parents and children.
VISITNG MUSICIANS: A fusion of African and Asian parents and children.

Electric Wire Hustle Family Nelson Arts Festival, Founders, last night. Reviewed by Bob Irvine .

The showbiz maxim says you should never perform with children and animals. We might add Sam Manzanza to the list. The flamboyant African bellowed out a greeting to the crowd last night, and they were his instantly.

"If you can walk, you can dance," he challenged. Those not thronging the dancefloor were swept up in a raucous call-and-response as Sam thrashed out a wild beat on his drum, aided by skilful son Myele on a drum kit.

Family bonding night at the Hustles had opened with keyboardist Taay Ninh's mother, Le Nuong, who sang two sweet numbers in Vietnamese. They needed a single flute (or ethnic equivalent) as backing. Instead, she was pitched into a tussle by Mara T K's bass and Myele's kit.

Mara's dad was next. The legendary Billy T K looks like Rip Van Winkle roused from his slumber, and completed the impression with scorching guitar solos straight out of the 60s.

Sam hijacked the rest of a short first half, leaving us clamouring for more.

Soon after the resumption I realised I was at the wrong gig. Electric Wire Hustle, minus a parental hand, droned self-indulgently through their electronica, bass-heavy set. The numbers all felt 10 minutes too long.

On occasions like this, reviewers fall back on the pat phrase: "People who enjoy this sort of thing . . ." My worldly companion explained that fans of trance music might "drop a couple of party pills and smoke a spliff" before dancing till dawn.

I just felt like yelling: "Bring back the oldies." Sam and Billy did return for the last number, and the whole ensemble were upstaged by tiny Le Nuong's haunting lament about the Vietnam War, sung unaccompanied.

A concert of two halves, then, with the mood all over the paddock. Rich talent in both generations, even if they don't quite speak the same lingo.