Review: Duzzy Clayton
a-ha Featured Image credits: David Devo Oosthuizen
Absinthe photo credits: Yolandi do Toit, Mariska Geyer and Caleb Lazarus
Ard Matthews Photo credits: Duzzy Clayton and Caleb Lazarus
a-ha Photo credits: Lushan turner
a-ha Photo credits: Estelle Emslie
a-ha image below provided
Before telling you about this amazing day, I want to start off this review by complimenting Break Out events. From the moment I walked into Marks Park until the time I left, with everything in between, I was totally impressed and blown away by how well this event was run and organized. So I would like to give Melissa Conradie and the Breakout events team a shout out on a very successful event.
I arrived at the arena shortly before 1pm by Uber and I could see that the parking lot was already filling up with a growing queue line to the entrances waiting for the gates to open.
I needed to make my way to the Press section and the first people I encountered were able to give me directions. Happily it turned out that it was the section right next to where I already was and I was especially happy that there wasn’t a queue there. An efficient and very helpful person took my name, noted it and I proceeded to make my way inside the venue, past all the people who were waiting for the gates to open… The venue, Marks Park in Emmerentia, is an awesome place to have an event. I have been there before, when Seether recently visited South Africa and did a show there, which was also brought to you by Breakout events now that I think about it
I made my way to the stage and immediately saw Melissa Conradie from Breakout events (who is one of the coolest people on the planet) and greeted her with a hug. After a short chat with her, I went out to find the merch table to buy a T-shirt for my wife who unfortunately had to turn down her plus-one ticket because she was not well, although I did get strict instructions to buy her an A-ha shirt… I found a very cool T-shirt and bought myself a burger and coke (All items at a reasonable price I must say!). Well provisioned, I made my way to sit near the front of the stage.
I sat down and wished that I had brought some kind of an umbrella because the sun boiled down fiercely on what felt like one of the hottest days of the year. At least I had brought my cap. I did all my social media posts and took a pic of the stage, buzzing with anticipation and thinking to myself that in a few moments’ time that stage was gonna be filled with some great acts.
First up we got Werner Bekker whom I thought was a perfect fit to start things off. His music was chilled acoustic stuff and his voice and personality just touched and connected with the crowd, who by now was filling up the venue fields nicely. I would describe his sound kind of Jack Johnsonish and I was very impressed with his sound and overall “interactiveness” with the crowd
After a few minutes break one of the DJs from Jacaranda, Mack Rapapali, came to the stage as an MC for the day ready to introduce the next musician James Deacon. Now I must say I know of James Deacon but on a different musical level from when he was still the guitarist for a band called “Last Chance Seattle” along with his brother Richard Deacon and bassist Daniel Pawson. Last Chance Seattle are a cool grunge band from Johannesburg so I was quite interested to see what James Deacon has been up to since then. James Deacon and Daniel Pawson (bass) took to the stage and I was happy to see that James was still making music with Daniel Pawson outside of “Last Chance Seattle”. I must say I was really surprised because the genre James is doing now has more of a Pop sound to it with backtracks etc. They do it well and do guitar solos and mean bass riffs etc. It is a far cry from the “Last Chance Seattle” days but I enjoyed his set and I think James Deacon is going to go far because there is definitely a market for what he does, and he was very well received by the crowd. I hear he is doing well on commercial stations in South Africa these days so I see a bright future for him.
After that set I was still enjoying the day although I was so hot I made my way to getting some cold water bottles to cool myself down. Getting back to my seat I started to get even more excited, because the next two supporting acts were bands I am a huge fan of and they have a huge connection to the 90’s SA music scene, which is the era of music I grew up with.
First of those bands was a band who go by the name of Absinthe. Known as South Africa’s greatest cover band, and they are just that, a band who does covers very well. They play the covers and do justice to the original artist but are also known to put their own flare to the tracks. One of the really cool things about this band is the band members who make up the band. Cito From WONDERboom and Paul E.Flynn from Sugardrive make up the vocal and guitar duties and are the sole members of the band. However, for this particular event the band had Riaan Van Rensburg on drums who actually is a regular drummer for the band and has been known to play with bands such as BOO!, Bomb Shelter Beast and is also part of the band for the TV show programe Noot vir Noot. On bass was Warren Leicher who was in the 90’s band Plum and he has also played with Arno Carstens for many years. Lastly, to complete this line up of Absinthe was Waldo Luc Alexander on Violin who plays for William Kentridge, and he has played for the JPO, is currently with the Festival Orchestra and to top it all off has also played in a band called To Hire A Nurse. …. Quite an impressive line up of musicians who took to the stage, so I was in my element. I am already a huge fan of the band so I pretty much know what songs they do and would put in their set and I have their album “A Rendezvous At Nirvana” so I was delighted to hear them do Pixies-Monkeys gone to heaven, and The Verve-Bittersweet symphony, to mention a couple. The band also do a beautiful version of Hallelujah from Jeff Buckley but for this particular event they did not do that song which was a bit disappointing for me as I was looking forward to hearing it because, I am about to name drop right now, Cito performed the song at my wedding, so that song has sentimental value for me. But that was a not an issue in an excellent set from the band. Although I knew I was going to be blown away, I just wasn’t prepared to what extent I was going to be enthralled by them, and I ended up being massively impressed as it was the first time I have seen Absinthe live and I really can’t wait to catch their next gig.
So, after all this great talent and excitement, I made my way to the Golden Circle VIP bar again to get some more drinks. Making my way back to where I was sitting proved a bit harder now because the crowd had really picked up and the venue had gotten very busy.
I finally made my way back to where I was sitting and waited for a musician to take the stage who goes by the name of Ard Matthews. This man and his band Just Jinjer, along with bands such as WONDERboom, Amersham, sugardrive and ‘Nude girls’ is one of the biggest reasons I have some sort of part in the S.A music industry today. So, as with Absinthe, I was really looking forward to Ard’s set.
Not with his usual band members Denholm Harding and Brent Harris who make up the rest of Just Jinjer, Ard took to the stage solo this day but was also accompanied by Jude Kenrick on drums/percussion…. What can I say about Ard Matthews other than that he is a legend, a real showman and entertainer, he is the best at what he does and not only interacts with the crowd in a great way, he has just got a great voice and such a pleasure to watch live. He mostly performed songs from his solo album which is called Impossible machines. It’s really an album worth checking out with some great beautifully written songs, many of which he performed in his set. However, I don’t think Ard Matthews can get away with doing a set and not actually including a few Just Jinjer songs, and it was nice to hear him do Sugarman, a song written by Rodriguez which Just Jinjer famously covered on their “Something for now” album. He also performed Just Jinjer’s hit song “Shallow waters”, which is such an iconic song from the 90’s SA music scene that I thought to myself it must be exciting to be Ard Matthews or to be in a band like Just Jinjer and actually have a huge crowd sing back to you words of a hit song that you wrote. Most people know a lot of Just Jinjer songs and all the songs got a great response, but Shallow waters is one of those songs the crowd just love. As if Shallow waters wasn’t enough for “crowd going wild”, then the song “What he means”, or what a lot of people know it as “Redemption song” fired up the fans. This song always does well at gigs, and even with Ard performing a solo set, it was definitely one of the faves in terms of crowd participation.
During Ard’s set he mentioned a funny thing on stage that he had bought a pirate ship (Yes, you read right) and he plans on restoring it and making it into a studio. You can follow the progress on this by going to @followtimsv on instragram. The Tim part of the handle stands for The Impossible machines which is taken from his solo album.
After what we thought was the end of Ard Matthews’ set, MC of the day Mack Rapapali came on stage, calling Ard Matthews back on stage to perform a few more songs, including one of my favourites “Like you Madly”. Bliss.
It was now time to have another drink’s break and all before the main act A-ha would take to the stage. At the VIP section I saw Cito from Absinthe/WONDERboom so I just had to go and say hello. There was a group of people asking if they could have a selfie with him. It was great to have a quick catch up with a legend.
Fighting my way through the crowd once again I managed to find where I was sitting, but by now the crowd were all standing, and the golden circle seemed to have doubled just in the short time I was away. We were all waiting for a-ha to take the stage, with excitement building as the word was that they were to take the stage at 6.20pm.
The crew were on stage working hard to set up the stage for a-ha, finally 6.20pm arrived and not a second later the band took to the stage, starting off their set with their well known hit “Take on me”, the crowd went wild from the moment the keyboard synthesizer played the opening notes. What a nostalgic feeling it gave with the band performing this song. Lead singer Morten Harket looked and sounded great, the band gave awesome sound and considering this band is from the 80’s, you got the feeling that they’ve still got it. Morton still hitting those notes and just seems to have this Rockstar look to him and walked around the stage in a way that just screams legend. Yet, it must be said that even though these guys are “rockstars” and certainly played the part, they didn’t appear to be arrogant at all and at times almost seemed very thankful that the crowd loved them so much and cheered them so enthusiastically. Every now and again Morton would look at the front row of people and just give this cheeky smile which kind of made the crowd go even more crazy for him and he would look so humbled for that.
It was nice to see keyboardist Magne Furuholmen, (better known to music fans by his stage name Mags), also interact quite a lot with the crowd, and at one stage doing a real “crowd control” moment where he got one side of the crowd to cheer, while the other side is quiet, then vice versa with the other side of the crowd, and then the whole crowd together, having so much power over everyone who was there to watch them.
One thing about A-ha, a lot of people mainly know their song “ Take on me” which was a huge hit; but for the real a-ha fans, it was nice to see the band perform hits such as “The sun always shines on tv”, “The Blue sky”, and even a demo version of “I dream myself alive” and of course what the tour is named after, the song “Hunting high and low” to mention just a few. (See full set list below)
There really is not a bad thing I can say about a-ha live and everything about their set was just amazing and mesmerizing. The crowd was made up of young concert goers (who probably weren’t even born when the band were at their biggest), and made up of older generation fans who I think were just having a very nostalgic moment filled with memories of the 80’s when music and life was great.
The band played their song “Stay on These Roads” and went off stage, the crowd wasn’t done yet though and started chanting ‘we want more, we want more’, to which the band obliged and played two more songs, closing with “ Scoundrel days” and “The Living daylight” after which they all came to the front of the stage and did their bows for the crowd before finally leaving.
At the end of it all, it was time to leave the venue, but I think everyone who was there and attended the show felt like they were just part of something great and had participated in an amazing event.
a-ha, South Africa loves you and we hope you will visit us again real soon.
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