Review: Mojo Juju at City Recital Hall
Mojo Juju at City Recital Hall 26 November 2019
Reviewed by Chelsea Deeley
18 months touring an album is pretty impressive by today’s standards. But then again, when the album in question is Mojo Juju’s poignant and powerful album ‘Native Tongue’ – it’s definitely not a surprise.
Layered with stories of disenfranchisement, questions of identity and powerful love stories of her grandparents and great-grandparents; ‘Native Tongue’ landed with a considerable thud. It was accompanied by an evocative and powerful music video for its title track, featuring a fierce Mojo and the incredible Djuki Mala.
Tonight, that same clip beams brightly upon a small backdrop in the prestigious City Recital Hall to a substantial crowd.
Anyone looking for a straight up gig was sure to be disappointed, though we’re treated to album tracks passionately performed by Mojo and her brother, drummer Steve ‘T-Bone’ Ruiz de Luzuriaga, and guest appearances from both Mirrah (known for her exceptional stage presence alongside L-Fresh the Lion) and Joshua Tavares (Zillanova/Love Songs & D).
But cut between are in-depth monologue and stories about Mojo and the life that shaped her and ultimately this body of work. From her upbringing in Dubbo, sticking out like “a streamed veggie at a Filipino BBQ”; back to her fathers emigration journey to Australia from the Phillipines and the adjustment and assimilation that he felt was required to avoid racist rhetoric and further alienation.
Mojo also shares heart-wrenching details. She touches on loosing her grandmother, her partner experiencing a miscarriage and the anguish that followed – right through to ending of that relationship.But there are some triumphant notes too. Praise for her mother, a passionate advocate for LGBTQIA+ community and with her partner, the first same-sex couple to marry in Dubbo.
But overall, this incredible show is an ode to her self-growth and determination. How she grew to own her right to feel comfortable in her own identity as both a Filipino and Wiradjuri queer woman. How members of her family have found a semblance of peace in a country that intrinsically makes non-white inhabitants feel “other”.
And, through debuting a brand new song due out this week, how she herself now feels ready for the next step after this defining album.
We can’t wait.