Performance review: Charles Maimarosia, Melbourne Recital Centre

Charles Maimaosia's intimate performance was spellbinding, soulful and energetic.
Charles Maimarosia. Image is a Pacific Islander man adorned with layers and layers of beaded necklaces. He has a white headband, braided hair and wears a short sleeved black T shirt over a long sleeved white one. He has a white stripe under each eye.

From the moment he walked out with the rest of the quartet, Charles Maimarosia exuded his undeniable charisma and stage presence. This intimate performance at Primrose Potter Salon began not with song, but story. Immediately, the listener was drawn in by the voice of the softly-spoken musician, reminiscing about his background and the inspirations for the music that followed.

Hailing from the Solomon Islands, Maimarosia has had a colourful career crafting original music that fuses both his cultural heritage and elements from other contemporary genres.

While he spoke gently, Maimarosia’s singing voice projected an abundance of soul and energy. Backed by a percussionist, electric guitarist and (for the first time) a harpist, Maimarosia created an atmosphere at the crossroads between temple and campfire. The music itself is inherently spiritual, lyrically and sonically drawn from themes of the natural world and an intertwining, all-encompassing love.

Before each song is played, Maimarosia gave a short introduction for context, enriching the listening experience. In one particular instance, he recounted his close bond with his mother, offering a glimpse into his inner emotionality.

As most of the songs were sung in Maimarosia’s native dialect of Are’are, these notes offered a significant amount of insight into the lyricism, which then became especially authentic and lived-in when sung.

The sonic elements of Maimarosia and his band also never felt forced or ostentatious. In moments when Maimarosia performed a skilful solo on his custom pan pipe, the band improvised a tempo-less ambience. The guitarist bended simple three-note phrases while the percussionist swapped back and forth between his array of shakers and bells, providing a backing texture that painted a vivid picture of Maimarosia’s life.

Read: Music review: Symphony Fantastic, QPAC

With such mesmerising sounds and captivating liveliness in his music, Maimarosia continues to weave between the boundaries of this medium. An intense passion for life and beauty itself surfaces when one listens to his songs, a refreshing feeling that lingers long after the conclusion of the show. Maimarosia’s sophomore album will be released later this year, but you can dive into the soundscape of his first album Are’Are’ right now on Spotify.

Charles Maimarosia performed at the Melbourne Recital Centre as part of Intimate Salon Experiences 2024 on 18 May.

A multi-faceted artist, musician, and writer, Joshua has always found belonging in the creative sphere. Having grown up in Hong Kong, his worldview has always been a collage between the East and the West. Since moving to Melbourne in 2020, Joshua has increasingly become fascinated by the people who call it home and the stories they have to tell.