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She's the bare foot version of Billy T. Anika Moa is a natural entertainer in a cheeky Polynesian style.

Add to this the fact the singer/songwriter has a beautiful voice and writes wonderful songs, and you've got a recipe for a great gig.

Moa - dressed in rolled-up jeans, a jacket, and with bare feet - gets a bit carried with her between-song banter sometimes, almost like she will forget to play the song. But in true Billy T fashion, it's a crack up.

She talks about a gig in Paihia a few days earlier: "Everyone got really pissed and danced hard out. A reggae hard out."

The nationwide tour, with the Plastic Tiki Band, is to promote her new album, Stolen Hill, the follow up to her 2002 debut Thinking Room.

This is her first gig in Auckland in a long while and she tells us she is a bit nervous.

Fellow singer/songwriter Bic Runga and Shayne Carter from Dimmer are in the audience, and Moa says it is great to see her favourite people here. But, she says again, pointing to them, "You make me nervous".

She need not be. With the backing of a great band - including the incredibly shy, yet excellent Stephanie Brown on keys - the songs are more ballsy compared to the hushed and gentle sound of Stolen Hill.

The old songs, like the lovely Good In My Head, sound great too, although, with the mention of Falling In Love Again she sets about making fun of it for being all cutsie by doing smart ass renditions.

While new song Picture Me In the 70s reveals Moa's whispery beauty, you can see why the Paihia crowd got skanking with the more upbeat Broken Man.

Brown is a real talent on keys. Hardly looking up to face the crowd, she takes the songs from smoky to stabbing to skanking, and is reminiscent of legendary reggae keyboardist Jackie Mittoo.

Another person to watch out for is singer/guitarist Anna Coddington from the band Duchess, who opens for Moa with a solo acoustic set, then does backing vocals for the main event.

The Herald Theatre is a steep venue, and a strange choice, but the intimate set-up and closeness between audience and band suits Moa's music.

The last song, an encore, is new and it is one of the best of the night.

After being scooped up by a major American record company at a young age, and promptly rejecting that lifestyle, this song shows how Moa much prefers to just write songs and perform them.

She doesn't care too much about what you, or anyone else thinks. But she still loves you for turning up.

What: Anika Moa and the Plastic Tiki Band
Where: Herald Theatre