Sol3 Mio - 'Back to Basics' Tour
Black Barn Vineyards
Saturday, March 9
Reviewed by Astrid Austin

The rain may have been teeming down, but that didn't seem to matter, as three beautiful voices soared among the vines.

All eyes were transfixed.

The captive audience hanging off every word.

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Black Barn Vineyards easily could have been mistaken for esteemed opera houses around the world.

It was sol3 Mio at their finest.

The perhaps unlikely opera superstars; Samoan-Kiwi tenor brothers, Pene and Amitai Pati along with their baritone cousin, Moses Mackay, brought their natural humour and talent to the stage.

From the opening chords of O Sole Mio to the fading notes of Some Say Love, they were captivating.

"Guys I swear we didn't bring the rain," Pene quipped after the first song, to unanimous laughter from the sea of ponchos and umbrellas. "I love you guys."

The rain was a constant throughout the night, both literally and in the on-stage humour. The piano music kept getting wet, requiring the brothers at various points to help turn the pages.

"This has never happened before. Even I'm getting nervous," Pene joked. The crowd lapped it up.

From there, they launched into a trio of arias delivered solo; their voices were vast and imperious; the product of lives spent singing and lately several years of world-class training, juxtaposed with matching one-liners.

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After two years furthering their individual careers, it was a welcome site to see the trio again before they head their separate ways.

The second show of the eight-date North Island Tour was slotted tightly in between solo commitments.

In what was probably the most vulnerable moment of the evening, Pene shared the struggle of bringing their show together - juggling their fledgling individual careers but also the needs of the group.

"It's been a crazy whirlwind for myself and in fact last Sunday, I was in Cincinnati, Ohio doing a recital and then Monday I flew back home, landed on Wednesday and then started the tour straight away.

"I remember sitting at the airport thinking 'why am I doing these things, why do I do this'.

"I was so crushed, defeated thinking I can't sing, I just can't be bothered and then I realised 'man, people want to hear your voice. You have been gifted something from God and you have to share it' and it was then that I thought 'I need to do this'," he said.

In the 'back to basics' style show, their talents were definitely on full display.

Other than guest pianist Lorelle McNaughton - who will soon be moving to Hawke's Bay - they were the only figures on stage.

Two guitars, a bongo and Pene's much needed chimes provided the backing music.

The half-hour interval was done away with, perhaps for the better. But the more than two-hour show kept on going.

At one point, three lucky members of the audience were taken on to the stage - serenaded by the group.

They went through a repertoire of songs including American folk song Shenandoah, Banana Boat Song, and Romanza just to name a few.

A highlight, however, was Mona Lisa. The trio, before they had encountered any sort of success, would sing it to dementia patients at their parents' work.

At the end of show, Sol3 Mio were not done entertaining the crowd. Many flocked to the side-of-stage to share hugs, photos and a few words.

Sol3 Mio are a true testament of where talent and hard work can take you.

Despite the less than ideal circumstances with mother nature, they managed to keep nearly all of the audience enchanted. By no means a small feat for any artist.