I’m in the car with Mike and we’re on our way to the 5.00pm Roaring Lion sound check at BBQ Bazaar in Burleigh Heads. Google Maps says Kooralbyn to Burleigh Heads is an hour and forty. So say two hours with local road works and the school run later…
iPad. IPad stand. Keyboard. Keyboard stand. Adapter. Cables. Power board. Amp. Amp stand…
Around 4pm we pull into Junction Road and park in front of the Burleigh Heads BBQ Bazaar Night Markets. It’s a high and airy domed warehouse space with a stage in the back. A long bar runs along the entire right side and benches and tables are out front for dining, with several pop-up eateries right there. The location’s great, plenty of street parking. Excellent venue!
The sound engineer is working front-of-house, his waist-length dreads swaying as he moves about. Dan Aurora of Eleven Production Services has the biggest put-you-at-ease smile ever and says the stage equipment is all set up for us. Bless his cotton socks!
We really need the sound check to be quick. It starts at 5. We’re on stage at 7:30. But our lead guitarist Maui (Whaa Ma) already said he has to go back to Beenleigh after. Did he say he could turn it around in two hours? On the Pacific Motorway in drive-time traffic? Yep. He really said that. Really.
Maui is our musical director. He steers our harmonies, decides the keys of our songs so that they suit Glen’s voice and transition well. He makes our homework playlists. Of course, he plays a mean solo…and he’s loud.
Vince and Aleisha Rangi arrive, our father-daughter backing vocals team. They can sing high! Like an octave above me! They also take live footage with their phones while actually on stage. How cool-headed is that? Vince is a multi-instrumentalist and deps for our band members who can’t make a rehearsal. Oh and they feed us with sandwiches and exquisite cupcakes!
Bassist Taria Teiti ‘T’ and his wife Sisilia turn up and check out around the venue. Quiet and unassuming, ‘T’ is the island on which we stand, steering us without us even realising. He sets up at the back left of the stage, which is where he usually is at practice. However our rhythm guitarist Wayne Naera is playing on the same side as Maui and me today. It’s nice! Wayne, ‘T’ and lead vocalist Glen Naera Jnr are the founding members of Roaring Lion.
Sam Motu appears. He’s my partner in KEYS. We are like Little and Large. We even have the same Korg Kross 2. His is the big workstation with 88 fully-weighted keys, while mine has 61 semi-weighted keys and weighs 3 kgs. Sam is rock solid, playing organ and Rhodes sounds.
He plays the bubble rhythm and the signature riffs in the popular songs. In contrast I flit around like a pop-up orchestra with horn motifs, string passages, and a meandering flute. Glen calls these “accents”. I would say, if Sam is Cake, I am Sprinkles.
Bojan Sambolec rocks up with all his drum gear. I don’t know how he does it! We play two 1 hour sets, the songs transition into each other – no stops, and the break between sets is short. I have no vocabulary to describe drumming, but I can hear the colour and finesse in his work. (By the way, Bojan’s wife artist Caitlin Halsall took most of these photos. You are amazing Caitlin!)
“Ow that one needs some TLC,” says Dan as he checks the drums. Bojan grimaces. Then Dan comes over and helps Bojan tune his drums. How nice is that.
Dan puts us all through our paces, and then Maui gets on the motorway…
Our band leader and lead singer Glen arrives at 7pm. He’s a tall man with loads of charisma and he’s a pastor too. A great orator with a kind, liquid voice. Glen’s great at interacting with the crowd and directing the band in real time.
Reggae vocalist The Mighty Asterix opens the evening, entertaining what is becoming a pretty large crowd!
Now it’s almost 7.30pm. Maui’s back! Phew 🙏 We’re in the back room and Glen says a prayer, then we are on, with our Rootsriders inspired intro. The 3 videos below were all thanks to Vince.
Natural Mystic, Exodus. We get to Buffalo Soldier, Glen roars WHEEL IT and we reset.
Three Little Birds, Get Up Stand Up, No Woman No Cry, Waiting In Vain, Punky Reggae Party, I Shot The Sheriff, Coming In From The Cold. BBQ Bazaar on Junction Road celebrates Bob Marley’s enduring legacy for two hours, and what a night it is.
The last song in the second set is ”Could You Be Loved,” but the crowd wants an encore. After a minute we decide on “One Love” and we are so moved, with so much love coming from the crowd, even as we pack up to go. Thank you Burleigh Heads BBQ Bazaar.
Roaring Lion is on the rise.