Calabash a SMASH!
Written and Photography by RubySage and Turquoise Garage Photography
After a busier than usual weekend of gigs, events and photo-shoots, and having to pre-arrange for my late arrival, I felt as if I had crash-landed at the FNB Stadium on Saturday night (3 February 2024).
I quickly parked my car at the designated parking spot allocated to the media. Grabbing my backpack with my two cameras- packed and ready to shoot- flung the car door open and attempted getting out. I was catapulted back into my seat as I, in my haste, had neglected to loosen the safety belt. My second attempt at exiting the vehicle wasn’t all that successful either, I might add. This time I almost became intimately acquainted with the ground I’d parked the car on. Climbing out the car wasn’t the problem – if only I’d chosen to take both feet. However, one foot stayed behind, getting stuck under a peddle. (Rushed Ruby became clumsy Ruby)
Finally, after the elaborate show I’d just put on for the security guys standing close enough to witness my theatrics, and bracing myself for the speed walk I was about to initiate, I looked up and stopped dead in my tracks. I made it…on time (well my prearranged late arrival time…but whatever) to the biggest show of the year; I made it to Calabash 2024! Here I was, standing in front of the larger than life, FNB Stadium when it hit me… ‘All in a day’s work” suddenly took on a whole new meaning!
Calabash South Africa, presented by Big Concerts, and in association with Discovery Bank and Heineken headlined chart-topping Grammy Award-winning pop-rock royalty Maroon 5 and I was about to experience this first hand!
I headed off to meet my ‘host’, Keamogetswe from Big Concerts – friendliest chic you’ll ever meet! – who escorted me to the media room where I, along with other media representatives and photographers, could enjoy sandwiches, beverages, free wifi and seating to watch the show when we weren’t down in the ‘pit’ taking photos of the stars.
Now just picture this: The ever-popular Maroon 5, the magic of Keane, Italian phenomenon Meduza, the confidence of Ava Max, the soulful vibes of Will Linley, and the shining voice of Lloyiso – all in one place.
Speaking of stars, I’ll let you in on a little secret… The cool composure is really all just for show. Being close enough to reach out and touch the stars – these idols whose music I’ve made many a memory too, is euphoric to say the least. (Obviously, I didn’t reach out to touch them… tempting as it was. Being escorted off the premises just didn’t sit well with me – especially after what it took to get there! )
Having arrived later than my comrades in the media, and nearing the end of his set, I caught a glimpse of Keane, the British sensation. Celebrating 20 years of chart-topping hits, it’s a no-brainer – Keane IS just all that! A chat topper and definitely someone to be celebrated (shhhh)!
Sadly I missed Meduza, the global streaming phenomenon from Italy. The Albanian-American pop powerhouse Ava Max (I’m particularly bummed about this) and local singer, songwriter and producer Lloyiso. But I did get to see, up close; South Africa-born singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Will Linley, and I’ll tell you something…. this guy blew my mind with his stage charisma. He had the crowd going wild!
Speaking of crowds…I don’t remember ever seeing so many people in one place at one time in all of my many years of living… The FNB Stadium was packed near capacity. This was particularly evident when Maroon 5, in a show stopping, elaborate and proper rock star style took the stage. I’m sure every person in the audience had their flashlight activated on their mobile phones – looking out over the masses looked like a scene from out of space….it looked like I was surrounded by hundreds if not thousands of stars!
Lights, camera, action!! – That was the order of business announcing the moment we had all been waiting for, right in front of me…stood the American pop rock band from Los Angeles, California, Maroon 5. I missed out the last time they toured South Africa, which was in 2008, so this was a huge moment for me! I swear I felt light headed and near fainted as lead vocalist Adam Levine, took the microphone and started off along the walkway…singing those sweet, sweet songs that only he can do.
Now I’m sure most everyone would say that I was dreaming…but I could have sworn that our eyes met…. I just know we made eye contact! – Okay, it was through the lens of my camera (but whatever…). My cameras were working overtime as I was clicking away, snapping as many shots as I could in the 60 seconds we were allowed to shoot, capturing moments to last a lifetime.
And that it will..!! The memory of the Calabash JHB 2024, experience will last a lifetime!