Katchafire – Live @ Frank Bar, Whanganui

Katchafire – Live @ Frank Bar, Whanganui

New Zeland produces some amazing, iconic music. Each band connects with a genre through their distinct sound and quality. In my opinion, the messiahs of NZ reggae right now is Katchafire, and I got to see them hot and happening at Frank Bar in Whanganui.


With the rife and strife of current events making Whanganui a hot area, the evening at Frank was an excellent way for all to unite as one – a message that rings through Katchafire’s music.

Frank bar in itself is unique. Formerly a bank, some of the iconic architecture still stands with authority. Ceiling-high concrete pillars and a mezzanine floor where the bands can overlook the crowd when they are off. And the cocktails here are delightful – especially the shakes! If you are ever out and about in Whanganui, Frank is a must.

Ohakune band Common Unity support Katchafire. Their sound is an excellent rendition of solid NZ reggae. Around since 2009, their band members stretch from Raetihi and Mount Ruapehu to down the Whanganui River.

Singer Marino Akapita’s voice gets you going places. And his beautiful dreads send you off into a dream world. Cheesy I know, but reggae has that ability to get lost in the music.

These guys are quite known in the reggae world and are performing at Tauranga’s One Love festival next year in January. Worth a look, with their hits “The Journey” and “Man on the moon” they had shared the stage with a few well known tumeke peeps.

When they finish, the crowd repositions itself with more refreshments and stops to the wharepaku. The main act is getting ready and a few of the band members are on stage aligning their gear. I already have my spot defined.

At the front in arms-reach of drum and vocals legend Jordan Bell. One of the Bell brothers who made Katchafire a household summer name. We have a quick korero to organize hanging out with them later and I go off in awe. Who wouldn’t get excited when the band who you grew up listening to say you can chat later?!

The wait is a tad longer than expected but highly worth it. They know how to rock a crowd coming straight out welcoming the crowd and right on to hit “On the road again.” The brilliance of combining reggae and brass is one to really get you feeling every note.

Their 2018 tour promotes their new album legacy. ‘It is exciting and fresh with messages of love, hope, togetherness, and family, featuring 12 brand new songs that the boys worked on between their hectic touring schedule’.

It is no wonder the boys are known worldwide. “Legacy” was recorded in numerous studios around the world. From the New Zealand and Australia to Hawaii and Los Angeles. As well as recording their album, the boys have also been touring USA, Europe and will be heading to Australia next month.

Having been around since 1997, the band continue to be recognised for their talents having recently been nominated for Group Of The Year at the inaugural Island Music Awards in Hawaii.

Their sound backs the win. The new songs are fresh, with remanents of their old school summer vibes, splashed with an upbeat movement. ‘Addicted’ and ‘Wasted’ are prime examples that are lingering in my head.

I spoke to Jordan Bell very briefly after the concert (a gig like that is exhausting for band and fan!). They are having a great time and love playing for the fans. I did try to shout the band for brunch, but sadly the guys were not keen – needing to head off to their next gig.

One thing is for certain, the longstanding messages of aroha and whanau are still strong in their words of wisdom. The boys are currently part way through their tour. Upcoming shows are;

Friday, 31 August Wellington
Friday, September 14 + Saturday 15 September Queenstown
Friday 21, September Kaikoura
Saturday 21, September Christchurch
Friday 28, September Whangarei
Saturday 29, September Mount Maunganui

If you haven’t got your ticket yet, go and get one now – the boys are offering at it at a wicked price too! This is a group that brings an iconic sound that never gets old. I know I will def be trying to hit the road to see them!

Arohanui boys – keep spreading the good vibes!

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