Category: Gig Reviews


That Circus Show – Official Launch Party

By: Iman Adams

Its 9pm, I walk into Zula and order a coffee. Yes that is right, a coffee. Cappuccinos are fantastic. It is That Circus Show, a supposed night of saucy burlesque dancers, live performers and music acts. I am curious to see whether it is as debauch as it sounds. Thirty bucks gets you in. Pretty reasonable. I like this indeed.

Image

Swingsister, Zula Sound Bar, Cape Town Photo by: Iman Adams

I walk upstairs to find an average set-up, some black balloons and fairy lights, with the projector screen to the right of the stage. I am not sure I entirely buy the whole audio/visual experience thing; nobody is looking to the right of the stage when the performers are at the centre. Although, whilst looking upon Swingsister dropping some electro-swing beats, I find the projected images a lot more entertaining. It is 9:30; there are about five people in the room, understandably so, it is incredibly early. However, it does not make the scene any less pathetic. There is no vibe, there is no atmosphere, there is no crowd, and no matter the funkiness of Swingsister’s groove, the emptiness drowns it out.

Let us fast forward to 11pm, where the fun began. Through the past two dreary hours, I had heard whispers running through Zula about the quirky foursome called Sun-Do Q’lisi, and I had been praying this one would pick up the night. My prayers were answered.

It may have just been the lights, but when these four walk on, it is as if someone just dropped an array of colourful paint bombs all over the place. The room has finally filled up; there is excitement, creepy smiling people, and an explosion of bass, brass and cats everywhere. Sun-Do Q’lisi has arrived, and I finally feel like I want to pee my pants with excitement. With the first beat that drops, and the strange harmonies coming through the speakers, it feels as though the room and everybody in it is being transported to a place where all the weird and wonderful things people think and want to do, is being manifested through the four talented men on stage.

The best part about these muso’s is the undeniable stage presence; they are feeling the music, they are feeling each other, and they are feeling the crowd. It is all one big swirling mass of colourful connectivity through an insane collaboration of electronica, instruments and vocal harmonies consisting of occasional animal noises, a vast display of comical facial expressions and hard jamming.

Image

Sun-Do Q’lisi, Zula Sound Bar, Cape Town Photo by: Iman Adams

Half way through the set, two burlesque dancers’ pop-up onstage, this does not impress me, an average five-minute performance that feels like a distraction. Then to my surprise, Swingsister arrives with fire batons… this is confusing… is she a DJ or does she play with fire? Indulging in both in the same night, at the same event, made it appear as if Zula had some trouble holding on to their line-up. I turn my attention back to the main attraction

After Sun-Do came DJ Tony Finger, at least that is what the program said. As far as I know, DJ Tony Finger is a solo act, but before me stood three men: one with a clarinet, another bashing out on an electric drum kit and one working the macbook and a keytar. The room empties out, but a few crazies stick around to groove to the cool Balkan beats blasting through the system. The music is thoroughly enjoyable, with Sun-Do Q’lisi increasing the good vibe, the space to move is most certainly welcome. Whilst enjoying a bit of a wiggle, I look up to notice that one of the three has left the stage; he comes back, only for another one to leave the stage for a bit and come back. This is annoying, and none of them appear particularly interested in what they are doing. More live cirque performers were promised, but I have lost my enthusiasm, (it seems most of the crowd has) and decide to leave.

That Circus Show-Official Launch Party is not all that I had hoped it would be. It all seemed a bit unorganised, badly marketed perhaps, but even with all the disappointments, I went home chuffed with the one performance that made the whole experience worth it, at the end of the day, it all comes back to the music. Sun-Do Q’lisi ensured my money well spent. Would I go back for another Friday night circus show? That is debatable.

Advertisements

Flaura, fauna and scantily clad pre-teens would seem an unlikely combination, but Goldfish is playing and the hippie-hipsters and “bohemians” have turned out in droves. There are a few pensioners settled on their blankets, pointing excitedly as the band’s equipment is set up, and the rest of the crowd is a mixture of reluctant mothers, and middle-aged couples hoping to “try something new”. The duo (David Poole and Dominic Peters) finally appear on stage, followed by a wave of screeches and “Woohoo’s”. All the pre-teens go gaga, and everyone else straightens up, anticipating the saxophone’s hum.

The unusual combination of bass and brass awakens even the most the discerning listeners, and not more than two minutes into the first song-“Get Busy Living”-heads are bobbing, feet are tapping and GOLD FISH fever has spread all the way to the picnic blankets. That is GOLD FISH‘s winning quality-there is a lot of something for everyone. It is that combination of musical mastery and DJ persona that has everyone up on their feet. Yes, the stage looks busy, with flashing lights and big screens in the background, but it is the performance that makes the crowd come alive.

By the time the symphony rolls into “This is how it goes” the mood has mellowed, and the duo responds by stripping down the song to its bare essentials, returning to their jazzy roots. It is something different for the front-of –the-crowd tweens, but that doesn’t kill their enthusiasm and the pace picks up again as Poole delivers a sensational solo on the saxophone. The instrument itself is probably not the most riveting for the younger crowd but the passion with which Poole plays makes one forget their ‘old-foggy’ perceptions and let loose.

It is not so much that the duo re-invent Jazz but that they can take it back to when Jazz was rock n’roll-THRILLING. There is something dazzling about the way Peters glides over the keyboard like a sixty-something year-old sage playing in a blues bar, or a concert pianist on the world stage. It is not surprising that the two have played everywhere from the pumping night clubs of Miami to the elegant Sydney Opera House.

After what felt like indefinite Euphoria, the set was over, but as always the duo came back “Cruising” when the audience chanted ‘encore’. They are cool, casual and down-to-earth. There is no sense that Poole and Peters are international superstars with better things to do.

The duo savour every moment just as the audience do, and make their music move for the audience, letting their fans set the pace. When a passion for music and a passion for people meet the results are bound to be mind-blowing. There is no doubt that the band has more success on the horizon!

The duo will be playing   again at Auckland Park Gardens, Johannesburg the 13th of May

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

In 2010 the world cup lit up of all of South Africa.  In 2011 Deadmau5 rocked the CTICC with a mind bending performance.  Maybe coming studying abroad in South Africa during 2012 is just unlucky.  That was until I heard that AVICII was scheduled to play in Cape Town on March 31 in an airplane hanger.

Once again Cape Town would host one of the most popular electronic DJ’s to stand before strobe lights.  Tim Bergling, known by his stage name AVICII, has become an international superstar, spreading the house music fever that has infected youths from around the globe.  His most well known song “Levels” has been blared through speakers a nauseating amount, playing anywhere from local diver bars to the metallic insides of bumping clubs.  Even my own mother stopped to ask me one day, “Have you of this song ‘Levels’?”

Despite AVICII’s transformation into a mainstream artist, I have always been a fan.  Even though his melodies may be slightly predictable, and his audiences full of drunk University students more intent on fist bumping then actually listening to the music, I looked forward to his performance in Cape Town for many weeks.  To make the event even more exciting, I learned that Goldfish and DJ Fresh would be the opening acts.  After seeing Goldfish several times at St. Yves in Camps Bay on Sunday nights, I couldn’t wait to wet my pallet on some more their juicy music.

The night arrived and Goldfish seduced the crowd into flavorful dance moves, combining the shrill sound of a saxophone with the uplifting notes of house music.  Next, South African DJ, DJ Fresh took the stage, immediately heightening the energy of the crowd.  Each song pulled the listener higher and higher, until the beat dropped, drum and bass cascading down on the pulsing crowd.  The contrast of high pitch synths broken up by the heavy weight of the bass made for epic dance floor destroyers.

AVICII entered the hanger with blinding lights and sparks erupting from the stage, the crowd rushing to get closer to the scrawny Swedish man behind the mixers.  The beat dropped and the crowd plunged into a trance, jumping up and down to the rhythm of the beat.  And yet, something felt unoriginal, as if something had been stretched too tightly and it was bound to snap.  All of the elements of the show ran smoothly; explosive lights, crisp sound, thrashing bass, and of course a screen that flashed images of robotic girls dancing promiscuously.  Even so, as I looked around and saw tears streaming down young girls’ faces, the show felt over dramatized.  It wasn’t the slow buildup that defines house music, but a sudden whirlwind of hype and fame.  As ‘Levels’ started whining from the speakers, I drifted further back into the crowd, silently mouthing the repetitive lyrics, “Sometimes I get a good feeling.”

By Duncan Lowe

 

Not so swing revolutionary…

Any band that dons a violin, acoustic bass and an accordion, dresses in colour coded fashion and self proclaims themselves to be a “hip swinging, toe tapping gypsy band” has to be something worth writing home about. At least that’s what I thought the first time I saw MANOUCHE standing on the stage in front of me.

So my expectations were a little high. What do you expect when your pre-gig research brings you to a band page claiming that the virtuosos you are on your way to see are the fore-runners of this generations “swing revolution?” Anyone even remotely interested in old-school swing would get their jollies on after reading that… not to mention, rush off to the Melting Pot in Muizenberg with great anticipation.

After the much pain-staking eagerness on my part for the gig to begin, I finally heard the sweet sounds of a tuning guitar and a drummer warming up his sticks by clanking a few hard ones. On the entrance of the first song I thought they’d hit the jack pot. It was the perfect mix of eclectic sounds. There were high energy rhythms, violin solos and what I liked to call the “Moulin Rouge” accordion effect. This all coupled up with the fact that I momentarily thought I was surrounded by a French peasant band, gazing at the Eiffel Tower with a croissant in one hand and a cheese baguette in the other. But by the closing stages of that same song I was far from sad to hear the end of it. What started off as a great sound stayed just that. There was no diversity, evolvement or direction. Even the greatest sounds can become tedious when they don’t go anywhere, which was exactly the case with MANOUCHE.

By the third song I started to wish I was part of an elliptical edit in those cartoons you see where hours are condensed into seconds. I became fascinated by the colourful walls and the intricate technique of the accordion as they slowly started to slide their way into the category of “if you know one song, you know em all” bands.

Though a fantastic concept, MANOUCHE hasn’t managed to grasp the notion of variety. An hour long set seemed to mesh into one continuous and tiresome sound. Individually, each of the six members of the band are all fantastic musicians. It is clear that they all have great technical skill and have honed their craft. However, in the end their original compositions failed to let them shine and is what lead the audience to tire of dancing and resort to the bar.

The best of their set were all cleverly chosen covers, featuring a bodacious jazzy singer who I was disappointed to see sitting on the sidelines for the majority of their time on stage. Ironically, none of their covers seemed so gypsy jazz in style, but they did work for the group…  perhaps they should have stuck to what works.

Attempting to embody too many genres into their own style of music is what MANOUCHE label as their “unique” sound. But in truth there is a reason why no one has ever attempted to cross French Gypsy jazz with Tango and folk. It just doesn’t work. It results in a cluttered, messy and confused sound that fails to leave any long lasting impression.

Unnecessary clutter of sound in replacement for variety really won’t get you anywhere. Some of the most famous bands have relied on simplicity as their go-to guide. While that can get old in itself, forcing unusual sounds together for the sake of being original won’t make people like you any more or hate you any less, and it certainly won’t make you revolutionary.

By Sarah Farrell

An Evening with the Eagles

Image

Its been 40 years since THE EAGLES first aired, and since then they have sold 120 million albums worldwide, earned 5 #1 U.S Singles and 6 Grammy awards, but in those 40 years they had never toured to South Africa. Until now…

Its Easter weekend and the highlight of my weekend is not that Jesus resurrected and gave us all hope for eternal salvation, no my highlight is going to be the 7th of April- when the Eagles perform at Sun City. This is my salvation, my sanctuary.

As the lights dim 4 men stand in front of us, in one single line and start singing. No guitars, just their voices… and then it all begins- the audience is transported back to a time when rock ‘n roll was a lifestyle, a religion, not just a music genre or another song to be played on the radio.

Their set is flawless,The Eagles aren’t risk takers. Their perfection is rehearsed and each song is performed effortlessly. Their unity as a band is emphasized ironically when each band member performs a solo hit, each very different but all beautifully familiar. Walsh’s mad solo numbers are balanced with Henley’s more relaxed lyrical numbers. Although they are all so different in solo acts and personality their musicianship unites them as a band and blends their musical differences into one fantastic sound.

The gig is another concert for them, but for the fans its an experience of a life time, and They make sure its one for the books. While Frey and Shmit learnt some colloquial language and fool around trying to speak Zulu and Afrikaans to us in-between songs, Walsh reminds us that age is simply a number and a mindset, and in his mind he is barely over 18- a starry-eyed boy jumping and head-banging on stage and of course his most impressive act- playing one of the 30 guitars brought over through a blow-pipe.

A concert will banish the rest of the world and its tragedies while the music heals the soul- at least this is what THE EAGLES are capable of. The outside world was forgotten as Henley, Walsh, Shcmit and Frey captivate the wide range of listeners in the arena. Most of the show was spent sitting down, and had a very intimate setting but still the bands stellar musicianship is almost unbelievable. After 40 years of quality music the band still rocks the stage and leaves the audience overwhelmed in their emotion.

Playing 2 hours of non-stop solo and group hits such as Hotel California, Take it Easy, Heartache Tonight, Boys of Summer, Life in the fast Lane, and Dirty Laundry, the audience was not left unsatisfied- even though they could have played for at least an hour longer. Don Henley was almost forced to dance around stage as he moved swiftly from drummer to guitarist to singer but that just made the show even more impressive.

There are some guitar solos that speak better than words do, and this is what Joe Walsh accomplishes in so many on their songs particularly in Hotel California. Listening to that I could not help but be overwhelmed by the experience, I mean you’re listening to one of the greatest songs ever written, and in front of you are the 4 men that created it.

As their final act the band chooses Desperado, and there was barely a dry eye in sight. Henley closed the show with the perfect song. The concert was great, so great, the drunkard that almost caused a fight in the middle of Take it Easy  could not ruin the atmosphere.

Few bands sound better live than they do on record, but this is one band that does. Guitar solos are more haunting, vocals are more inviting and the band in general is greater than one could ever imagine. There’s not much to be said about this band that hasn’t already been said, but as always the band left the audience mesmerised, and I’m almost 90 % sure almost every audience member put on an Eagles tune when they got home just to hold on to the unbelievable experience they just encountered for a few more minutes.

Erryn Gracey

BY GRAY KOTZE

As the audience trickled into the arena at Grandwest, I found myself fighting an all-consuming urge not to prejudge Sting’s upcoming performance based on the occupants of the crowd, who gently weaved their way amongst the geometrically-exact seating. The crowd consisted of middle-aged, Woolworths-attired men, being subtly forced into their seats by their excitable, yet very much contained, wives. As the lights began to dim, the last few stragglers, hindered only by their inability to read their seat numbers amidst the growing darkness, slowly found their places in the sardine-like seating structure.

A drizzle of polite, anticipative conversation flowed around the Arena, and the odd person sipped, neatly, on a pre-sold beer. Before I had time to imagine how little my 19 years impacted on the average age in the venue, the surrounding lights went down, stage lights went up, and a bright strand of spotlight highlighted the focus of the evening: Sting.

Applause descended for the oncoming hero, as he and his six-piece band took to the fairly starkly set stage. Once the affable approbation quieted down, Sting and his band dived into their first number of the evening, ‘All This Time’, Sting’s radio friendly, ’91 track: which set the tone perfectly for what was to come.

Technically, the music was tight; and incredibly few musical slipups snuck past the fingertips of the skilled musicians in the two hour set. The band on Sting’s ‘Back to Bass’ tour was technically brilliant, with stalwart musicians such as long time Sting-collaborator Dominic Miller (and his son) on guitar, mythologized drum-legend Vincent Colaiuta pounding out the asynchronous beats, and young, virtuoso violinist Peter Tickell illustrating his contemporary-classical chops. However, something was missing.

As Sting plodded away on his simple, alternating bass lines, with a voice which appears not to have aged a day, I figured out what it was that didn’t add up. Emotion: or the lack thereof. While Sting diligently engaged with the crowd through his stories of love, lust and death, a tinge of doubt hung over me. It was clear that he had told these tales year in, and year out; throughout the length of his aging, 34-year career. He had every word, joke, and accompanying pause for laughter, down to a tee. And that was the missing component: spontaneous sincerity.

Sting and his accompaniers strolled through the fairly complex musical set in a jovial fashion. Despite only offering the crowd scarce chunks of material from his time with The Police, the sensibly-dressed faction reigned down their applause. And the over-rehearsed performance continued, with the lack of genuine emotion directly contrasting with Sting’s emotionally charged lyrics. The band was like a slickly oiled, German-built machine, and glided easily over the well-received snippets from Sting’s discography. However, as the crowd obediently clapped their hands along to ‘Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic’, I was left waiting, hoping to encounter a speck of improvisatory-grit in the well oiled Sting-mechanism.

The crowd lapped up ‘Fields of Gold’, as they stood up and swayed; a sea of jersey’s tied around waists, flapping in the windless arena. However, even this greatly emotional number had a certain cheesy, slow-motion, montage sequence feel about it. I was left, sitting there, trying my utmost to appreciate this theoretically incredible song; yet could not do so. The music made me envisage Sting, complete with tight t-shirt, singing this thoroughly rehearsed track to a panel of ‘Idols’ judges.

Midway through the polished set, I began to encounter withdrawal symptoms from a lack of impetuous musicianship. I was so desperate for an impromptu guitar riff by that stage that when the young Miller stepped forward and snuck in an improvised solo I, completely unsupported, burst out with applause. The woman sitting next to me gave me a sideways glance of uncertainty before the crowd erupted in applause over another over-choreographed violin solo.

I found myself fighting against the grain like this the entire set, until, during Sting’s third and final encore, where, for the first time, he disowned the bass and went ‘back to guitar’. The song was one of his solo classics: ‘Fragile’. As the first notes rung out, I knew that this was the turning point; Sting’s return to uncalculated feeling. No father and son stories, no amateurish jokes about Cape Town, no singing along and hand clapping, just the pure, uninhibited expression of emotion.

So – perhaps ‘Back to Bass’ was the wrong approach for this tour after all, as, the moment he dropped that deeply resounding instrument, he began, for the first time that evening, to play real music.

After clambering up steep stairs to get to the “Keep Calm” gig at The Waiting Room I was in a place that felt like an extension of my home. I was about to embark on a musical journey in my lounge. The atmosphere was homey engulfed in dim red lighting with toasty auburn and burned orange tones.  The floor was littered with couches galore. My senses were teased with the smell of pancakes and even though it was considerably freezing outside the air was charged with electricity. Chatter resounded off the wooden walls as people sauntered over to grab another beer or glass of wine. The fact that the show started an hour late and the sound guy messed up the first few minutes became part of the background drone as Matthew Mole took the platform.

He strummed the first few chords and I found myself living out clichés. The compacted room disappeared around me and all that was left was him, me, and his guitar. I couldn’t help but fawn over him. His voice elicited a school girl like crush that I didn’t want to shake. My blushed cheeks and rapidly beating heart weren’t entirely irrational though. Whilst many upcoming indie artists, skin tight jeans and guitar slung over shoulder, attempt to display their talent, few approach the stand with penetrating lyrics and presence as Matthew did.

While the lyric “your soul begins to run” was still echoing in my mind I found my body responding to his next song before I could register. A jolt ran through my body leaving my foot happily tapping. Usually I am very weary of artists that do covers but when he glided into Two Door Cinema Club’s “I can talk” I could do nothing but smile. He, accompanied by a shaker and a trumpet, transcended an indie electro song into the purest of folk.

Nearing the end of his set I felt myself allowing my Romantic side run wild and free. As the words “I’d fly across the world for you” rolled out of his mouth my thoughts were racing, would you Matthew? Would you really do that for me? Raking all my emotion into one stack I would say that his music captivated me. The familiarity of his voice hit me by his last song: it parallels Marcus Mumford, front man of Mumford & Sons. He managed this without producing a carbon copy rendition. Contrary to Marcus’ rough edged velvety vocals, Matthew’s voice has more of a creamy innocence.

When he left the stage I felt the void creeping. I needed to hear more. But alas, all good things must come to an end. Seeing as I was besotted in real time I made the decision to cast my retrospective judgment on the performance. I concluded that he had sparked an insatiable desire that he alone could quench. I think it is a part of his act. I am left with little choice but to become a groupie and wait it out until he decides to make another appearance (a lifestyle I could quickly adjust to).

He had a telling connection with the crowd as well as the individual; a rare find for a one man band with a guitar and kick drum.

check him out in the mean time:

http://www.facebook.com/matthewjmole

http://matthewmole.tumblr.com

http://www.soundcloud.com/matthew-mole

http://www.twitter.com/matthewjmole

The Circus is in Town

BY KYLIE HOLLIDAY

Once upon a town in a time far away… no that’s not right.

The circus has come to town! The Akelian Circus that is, and it is here to stay. Where its at? The Nameless Pub, no really that’s its name, in the so-called old-age home that is Somerset West. When is it? Every last Sunday of the month. Why should you care? I shall tell you!

 

The Akelian Circus is the collaboration of a truly talented group of musicians. On this wintry night, 29 April, this acoustic cluster of muso’s included Somerset West natives; Nick Kuiper, Richard Kuiper, Julian Bach and Neil Rautenbach, as well as MISTER & MISREAD band members; Kristyn Rӧhm, Nick Frost and Phil Joubert.

 

The Nameless Pub is as laid back as gets; a couple of couches cosy-ing up the corners of the room, some A-typical bar tables and chairs and the ever- faithful foosball and pool tables all centred around the make-shift stage- equipped with lights, amps, monitors, drum-kits and the kitchen sink.

 

The evening kicked off with a cover of STING’s “Message in a Bottle” by Nick Kuiper on guitar and vocals with Nick Frost on drums. Kuiper’s voice has a gravelly sound that, accompanied by his skilful guitar playing, fills the room. The atmosphere was relaxed; drinks were consumed like it was not Sunday, people were chatting, tapping their feet to the music and the Nicks did not miss a beat. A swig of beer and the last drag of a cigarette and they effortlessly moved onto a crowd pleaser; “Piano Man” by BILLY JOEL; the otherwise ambivalent Sunday-crowd sang along quite enthusiastically. After some John Mayer solo’s from Kuiper, Frost was back on drums for what was arguably the best song of their set; a cover of the iconic PINK FLOYD’s “Wish You Were Here”; the locals were basking in the ambience of old school.

 

Richard Kuiper joined, beginning with FOO FIGHTERS’ “Times Like These”, he harmonised expertly with notes that were astounding. The locals, unsurprisingly, loved it. Nick Kuiper exited as Frost accompanied, with beautiful harmonies, the other Kuiper taking the lead on THE USED’s “Noise and Kisses”; the vocals were pitch-perfect, Frost’s skills on the guitar were just as good as they were on drums and for a pretty ambitious first song they pulled it off with practised ease. After Kuiper belted out BOXCAR RACERS’ “Letters to God” near perfectly, it seemed time for some comedic relief from Frost who sensuously, and with a straight face, sang TENACIOUS D’s “F**k Her Gently”. The comedy didn’t stop there; an improvement on RIHANNA’s “Umbrella” by Richard ensued.

 

Another change and the present MISTER & MISREAD band members were on stage, with joker Julian Bach excitedly hopping on drums, starting with FOSTER THE PEOPLE’s “Pumped up Kicks”. It was fantastic; full, up-beat and succeeded in enticing the Sunday-crowd to sing along. Frost harmonising to Rӧhm’s, sometimes Hayley Williams-esque, vocals makes for a really beautiful over-all sound. The trio debuted some material for the local crowd with Misread whipping out a page of their newly written lyrics. Their first was lyrically sharp and naughty and the tone upbeat but somewhat eerie. Misread pushing her voice with such emotion added an element of depth to PARAMORE’s “Only Exception”, I think, making their cover better than the original. Some more new stuff, BLACK KEYS and MUMFORD AND SONS followed all with the most amazing harmonies.

 

Funny guy Julian Bach accompanied by his brother Neil Rautenbach, playing bass, and Nick Frost, made modulation seem easy with sneaky key changes mid-song done to perfection. They performed introspective Julian Bach tunes that were happy, up beat and kind of folksy, but do not be deceived they are no joke. Bach had such a naughty boy smile on his face while he performed, his passion translated and the crowd loved him. The bass made their set feel fuller, the skills shown on guitar were brilliant and despite some minor feedback difficulties their performance was stellar. It was at that stage of the evening that the most applause and interaction took place on behalf of the crowd, the room was abuzz with energy.

 

To follow, actually to return, were Phil Joubert, Nick Kuiper and Frost with some super up beat, rock tunes which the crowd soaked up. They started off with “Wonderwall” by OASIS with Joubert’s harmonies sounding top notch, then moved on to “Pardon Me” by INCUBUS in which Joubert took the lead with an incredibly strong chorus- line. Joubert then took on MUSE’s “Time is Running Out” with huge success as his ability to break out into screamo was evident, that is skill.

 

There was almost not a point during the night at which it was safe to take a bathroom break because you would definitely have been missing something, leaving early was also just not an option. Overall The Akelian Circus was a very interactive gig, with the artists frequently joking and conversing with the crowd, making for a highly enjoyable experience.

 

The night was a circus of harmonies from heaven so walk the long and winding tightrope to Somerset West, you will not be disappointed.

The Akelian Circus

Kristyn Rohm – Photo by Phil Joubert

The Akelian Circus

Nick Frost – Photo by Lauren Hochfelden

The Akelian Circus

Julian Bach – Photo by Lauren Hochfelden

The Akelian Circus

Richard Kuiper – Photo by Lauren Hochfelden

The Akelian Circus

Nick Kuiper – Photo by Clara Ilena

The Akelian Circus

Phil Joubert – Photo by Tim Hulme

There is a reason the Old Mutual Summer Concerts at the Kirstenbosch Gardens are on just about every must-do list. It’s an absolutely magical venue all on its own, and having the pleasure of being able to sit back and relax there while taking in good music only adds to the enjoyment of being there. Everyone had spread out their things, taking in their surroundings, sharing the picnics they had brought. The Kirstenbosch Gardens, if you haven’t been before or are just struggling to remember, is deemed one of the must-sees for tourists from around the world. Don’t be put off by the idea of obnoxious tourists snapping constant pictures. Even for locals, the place seems to hold some sort of magical quality in its beauty. Repeat visitors can’t fail to notice how the gardens never fail to impress. The atmosphere for the concert was just so pleasant that it seemed impossible to have a bad time, regardless of who was playing.

However the music too was just as satisfying as the venue. On Sunday afternoons throughout the summer, concerts are put on in the gardens, and judging based on attendance for this night alone, word has gotten out. The performance being put on by the popular group Freshlyground seems to have drawn massive crowds, numbering in the thousands, all of whom came out on this beautiful night to share the experience of live music in such a beautiful setting. Freshlyground is the perfect artist to come see here, it seems. With members of the group from Mozambique, Zimbabwe and various parts of South Africa, it seems that the group has everyone in the audience pulsing with excitement as they wait for the concert to start. Freshlyground seemed to take in some of the audience’s excitement and put it into their performance. On multiple occasions, they had the audience, who needed very little coaxing, up and dancing. While their well-known hits seemed to have everybody singing along (Is there anyone who doesn’t know ‘Waka Waka’ at this point?) even some of their lesser known ones had enough energy to get people up and dancing, or at least bopping their heads in time to the beat.

Throughout the entire set list, the group’s energy matched that of those in the audience, particularly those who ran down to the stage itself to be as close as possible. Lead vocalist Zolani Mahola kept the liveliness up not just with her lyrics but also with some high-energy dance moves she showed off as she pranced back and forth on the stage during the group’s performance. The concert-goers loved every second of it, eating it up, and the smiles never seemed to leave their faces. It was hard to tell who was having more fun, the audience of Freshlyground.

The effect of the whole evening can only be described as magical. Between the beauty and loveliness of the setting and the space for all the happy music lovers in attendance, a better venue could not have been possible. Freshlyground put on a concert that had everyone happy and excited to be there. As one of the last concerts in the Old Mutual Summer Concert series, it was an evening that reminded everyone that summer’s not over just yet. A perfect evening, by any standards, and definitely something that is, and will continue to be, a long-standing tradition in many people’s summer plans, and after this concert, it is easy to see why.