Mo’Ju gives the Adelaide audience a refreshingly down-to-earth performance full of fiery passion, world-class vocals and meaningful lyrics.
Presented by Adelaide Festival
Reviewed 13 March 2021
After not having performed for roughly a year, Mo’Ju storms the Adelaide Festival stage with her passionate lyrics, bold vocals, crooner-like smoothness and shining personality.
Mojo Ruiz de Luzuriaga, a.k.a Mo’Ju (and formerly Mojo Juju) never fails to disappoint, and her performance at this year’s Adelaide Festival is no exception. In contrast to other musical performances, Mo’Ju’s is filled to the brim with deeply meaningful lyrics that, in many songs, address current racial issues in Australia, especially regarding First Nation’s People, as well as issues like political corruption. An example of her passion is found after her opening song, when she acknowledges the audio Welcome to Country that plays before every performance at this year’s Adelaide Festival (a beautiful touch), and takes her respect a step further by making her own personal acknowledgement of being here on this land. In her introduction of Don’t Think Twice, a song written for Peter Dutton “cause he’s a d**k” she explains, although there’s a light laughter in her voice when she says this, there’s also a sense of fiery frustration that continues into and throughout the song, demonstrating her raw passion about the subject matter.
Not only do many of Mo’Ju’s songs revolve around family, she is accompanied on stage by her talented brother Stevie on drums – it’s a wholesome, musical family affair. Mo’Ju is well known for her 2018 Native Tongue album, and she neatly fits a trilogy of songs into the set list that bring cries of glee from the audience. She explains how the album was significantly influenced by family and keeping the aural history of her ancestors alive. After firing up the audience with Far Too Late and I Just Wanna Know, she slows things down with 1000 Years (one of her favourite songs to perform). Her voice echoes out into the audience with only a strong beat, occasional symbols, and soft guitar string plucking behind it, emphasising the emotion that fills each line.
One of the highlights of the performance is Mo’Ju’s frequent, humorous interactions and delightful conversations with the audience. Her huge personality is completely un-diva-like, instead filling the audience with the warm feeling of hanging with a friend as she pokes fun at Adelaide’s mini-lockdown, questions whether we can discuss the Adelaide Fringe at an Adelaide Festival performance, chuckles jovially with an audience member about their distinctive laugh, and jokingly confuses the audience by introducing a musician who isn’t even on stage. She is seriously likeable and you can imagine having a beer and banter with her would be a great time.
Unsurprisingly, Mo’Ju wows Adelaide with passionate lyrics and powerful vocals, as well as delighting audience members with her lovably playful personality, in a performance that results in a standing ovation – good times all round.
Reviewed by Georgina Smerd
Rating out of 5: 4.5
One Night Only – Season Ended