Mojo Juju: Native Tongue, QPAC (QLD)

An extraordinary performance showcasing not only Mojo Juju’s voice and talent but also the stories behind the songs.

Presented at QPAC Playhouse as part of Clancestry, a two-week celebration of ‘the richness and diversity of First Nations Peoples’, Mojo Juju performed an intimate look at the stories behind the songs of her third solo album, Native Tongue.

The extraordinary show is a testament to Mojo Juju’s incredible voice and talent. Rarely do we see a performance that offers such transparency and personal insight into the culture, family and experiences that make an album. The experience was indeed a heart-warming, groove-filled, cherished event.

The night began with the title song from the album Native Tongue, and immediately the audience was already humming to the deep sounds of her soul-infused single. Taken in with a simple set – a cool 70’s neon sign depicting her name, with the stylised graphic font of the album title beneath – the impact was powerful and intense. Dressed all in white, Mojo instantly commanded the stage along with Stevie ‘T-Bone’ Ruiz de Luzuriaga (drummer, co-writer, and also Mojo’s younger brother).

Between tracks, short films and Mojo’s storytelling revealed more of the motivations, challenges and inspirations behind her songs, as well as exploring her Filipino and Wiradjuri bloodlines.

Born in Dubbo, Mojo told one story about how, as a child, she felt isolated due to bullying and racism, and found solace in music videos, identifying with Michael Jackson and others in a sea of Cold Chisel fans. The audience had a good laugh at this one! Of course, she doesn’t mind Cold Chisel now. Her warm, honest stories brought us in, making the listening all the more meaningful and heart-centred. A true artist, the flow continued with guest artists joining in. The apt nature of oral traditions signalled her underlying purpose, along with a sense of belonging in a world that is sometimes hostile to uniqueness, cultural difference and LGBTQIA+ people.

Mojo played a Telecaster guitar with a vox valve amp on many songs. The vibe climbed from bluesy velvet tones to crescendos of R&B and in some instances hip-hop. Bass and synth were pre-recorded though this didn’t betray the sound or the impact of the performance.

Don’t Stop Me Now was hauntingly beautiful, a classic blues style furnishing the space fully with her velvety voice. The night ended in a standing ovation like I had never seen before at QPAC.

Mojo Juju’s voice hit the ceiling in many songs, filling the venue like the sky. For me this artist is really special. Her strength and vulnerability was a breath of fresh air, a true blessing to our cultural landscape, and I can’t wait for more.

I highly recommend listening to this album – a must for your collection.

4.5 stars out of 5 ★★★★☆

Mojo Juju: Native Tongue
Mojo Juju with guests Joshua Tavares and MIRRAH
19 November 2019
Queensland Performing Arts Centre, Brisbane QLD
Tickets $30

Presented by QPAC as part of Clancestry, 18 November to 2 December 2019

Sally Peters
About the Author
Sally Peters is a freelance writer currently residing in Brisbane.