Having never heard of Fetish before, I approached this gig with an open mind and a willingness to absorb whatever they threw at me. A growing queue outside proved promising for a band I never even knew existed and a rocker crowd made me feel right at home. I could tell people were excited for this gig, as the crowd chatted enthusiastically. It was only until I learned that it had been 10 years since they last played in South Africa, that I understood why.

As soon as the band stepped on stage, the crowd cheers erupted out of the brewing anticipation, and before long, Michelle Breeze’s smooth vocals flowed over our bobbing heads. For the first few songs, I felt a surprising lack of any real crowd engagement. It was as if the band was more focused on getting through the songs than they were on connecting with the audience and putting on a show. This did however change and by the 4th song I could feel the building energy in the bodies around me.

The sound was good and I could feel the bass guitar’s chords vibrating around the room, giving their music a deep intensity that resonated through me. Their intensity could also be seen on Michelle’s face, as she sang each song with genuine emotion and banged the snare drum with passion. It soon became obvious to me that their music means a lot to them and that each song is a reflection of who they are, not just some hog-wash thrown together by a money-hungry producer.

A lot of new material from their latest album was played, with Michelle saying they “have to play the new stuff”. Being a first time Fetish listener I could only tell the difference between the new and the old by the amount of people singing along in the crowd. The new material was well received, with many an appreciative cheer but it did not compare to the energy that the crowd’s voices created when the familiar songs were played. Having said this, I did feel as though the new pieces showed a change towards a more mature sound.

The only real problem I had with this gig is that fact that I could hardly hear what Michelle was saying in between songs. Her energy seemed to disappear when she stopped singing and only returned with the next song. It would have been great to see the same energy she portrayed in the music in her onstage persona. I wasn’t the only person who noticed this as a guy next to me mumbled something about “speaking up” more than once during the set.

Fetish has a definite style that comes through, not only in their music but also in their performance. They ask their audience for more than to just have a good time but also to critically listen to and genuinely feel their music. They are proud of their music and are more interested in the expression of music than in putting on a show. I didn’t walk away with sweaty hair or any mosh-pit induced bruises, but rather with a new appreciation of what it’s like to express yourself through something you love and the feeling that I caught a tiny glimpse of Michelle Breeze’s soul. – Jean Jacobs