I have been receiving SO MANY EMAILS this week about Dutch band BZN’s upcoming concerts in South Africa. They arrived in Cape Town this morning and they play here tomorrow evening, and then up in Johannesbeagle over the weekend. And I’m not saying that ticket sales have not been going well, but:
1. The tickets are now buy one get one free, and 2. They’re emailing me about it.
I had never heard of BZN, and now I know why.
Target audience be damned.
But what could have gone wrong, when they’re being supported by Nadine, Manie Jackson (no relation) and Christo & Cobus*? And when BZN have given us such hits as Love’s Like A River:
Sweet Baby Cheeses. It’s like a really bad ABBA. And ABBA are really bad already.
If this is your idea of great music, get yourself (and your freebie +1) along to one of their gigs. That way, the clearly desperate promoters might stop emailing me about them.
*Interestingly, the other three support acts are Juanita du Plessis, Franja… er… du Plessis and… erm… Ruan Josh (whose full name is Ruan Josh du Plessis). Truly a family full of sh… owmanship.
That date in the title just to differentiate this post from a similar one 3 years ago.
Right, let’s get on with this: brief and to the point can like to be my style this morning. (UPDATE from end of post: this didn’t happen, sorry.)
First off, this was a birthday gift for our 9 year old daughter, so standing tickets were out of the question: she’d get really tired and be staring at several or more student bums for 3 hours. So we were sitting right up at the back – a position which has both its advantages (comfy seats, better view, fewer bums) and disadvantages (bit distant from the action, not quite the same atmosphere).
We arrived just in time for the first support act, Opposite The Other. Local boys done good. Not my sort of music, but there’s clearly a great deal of talent here. There was a bit of a dearth of character and stage presence though. But then, this was a first act, playing to a half empty arena some 2½ hours before the main event, and South African audiences are notoriously disrespectful anyway, so I’m not sure that anyone noticed or cared. I’ll give them a solid 6/10. Not bad, could do better.
But then after their exit, came the MC. I missed his name, but basically he was a late middle aged American gentleman; a balding and somewhat portly chap with zero personality. Good choice for the job. And here let me digress a bit: look, I’m not sure that I could MC a concert. But that’s why I don’t MC concerts. In much the same way, I’m pretty sure I can’t do open heart surgery so I go out of my way to avoid putting myself in situations where I might find myself having to do open heart surgery.
Play to your strengths, innit?
I don’t know much about the MC last night, but I have a feeling that he might be better at open heart surgery than MCing concerts. It sounded like he was going to be doing the Durban (Friday) and Joburg (Saturday) concerts too. You guys are in for a treat. Eish.
Fortunately, the fun sponge and his monotone verbal stumbling eventually made way for Matthew Mole (who is not actually a mole) (private joke, sorry) and even more fortunately, he was very good. Tight, professional, engaging, and clearly and rightfully proud of what he was doing. One drummer, one synth and varying sizes of strummable instrumentation, plus some well-placed confidence and that voice: a really simple combination which worked really well. Let the music do the talking, as it were. The audience was also more receptive – probably aided by some Castle Lite and some better-known songs – and the performance finished with our temporary protagonist standing on the fence at the front of the crowd and banging a big drum, yielding almost iconic imagery like this (nabbed from his Facebook page):
Good work, Matthew. 9/10. Maybe even a 9½.
Time for Mr Boring to come on again and try to evaporate any excitement or atmosphere, but amusingly, this ime around is icrophone was ‘t orking pro erly and so we were spared from much of his “witty” “banter”.
There may actually be a god, after all.
Bastille time. Volume up a notch or two. Lighting up several more. And a huge welcome as the band took to the stage, introduced by a video of their strange newcaster, who resurfaced again and again during the evening. We began with Send Them Off! and from the get go, the huge energy was evident. The familiarity of Laura Palmer– a beautiful, almost orchestral version with soaring strings reminiscent of The Sun Always Shines On TV – really got the crowd going and we were away. Even more so when Dan wandered out into the crowd while performing Flaws. And then memories of Kirstenbosch 3 years ago were stirred as the audience talked right through a beautiful rendition of Overjoyed. You rude bastards. All of you.
A good setlist of stuff followed with songs from Bad Blood and Wild World cleverly combined to not stray too far from the familiar, nor lose the energy while also showcasing their slower “massively depressing” (Dan’s words, not mine) music.
We got an emotional Durban Skies dedicated to Dan’s family (and notably only ever performed live in SA) and then an acoustic Two Evils from the balcony just down in front of us, before a really weird ending to the set, with Things We Lost To The Fire and then Pompei and then… nothing. Even though the newsreader on the big screen told us “That’s all!”, it took the house lights coming up and the roadies dismantling the drum kit before the rather confused audience started to leave.
But this oddity aside, it was a brilliant performance. Energetic, loud, entertaining and captivating. And all so hugely professional. Really amazing. About 20 songs, about 90 minutes on stage. Great value for money. They’ll be joining Matthew on a high quality 9½. (Don’t be sad. I don’t give out 10s easily.)
Oh, and before we go: a shout out to Grand West. They really do do concerts well there. Extra exits, well lit temporary pathways to the car park, helpful staff, prepaid parking tickets, brilliant traffic control. Each bit saves just a few seconds, but add that up across 7,000 strong crowd and it makes a big difference. There’s a lot that other venues could learn from them.
Computicket – specifically “Racine Jardine | Cancelled Events” (shame – how rubbish must her job be? Why not just promote her to ‘Harbinger of Shattered Dreams’?) – have been in touch with more distressing news for 30STM fans:
Good Day Valued Patron
Please be advised that “30 Seconds To Mars” taking place at the Grand Arena Grand West on 23/11/2014 will now be at 19:30 and NO LONGER at 19:00.
Should you require any further information please do not hesitate to contact us at 0861 915 8000.
[cue gasps of horror from those assembled] [at least, from those who assembled at 19:00]
Yes. You read correctly. There will be another 30 minute delay (on top of the 234,720 minutes we’ve already had to wait) until we get so see Jared et al. on stage in Cape Town. And that half hour was deemed worth an email and an SMS to each and every ticket holder.
Well, thanks for telling us, but I’ve yet to see a band appear on stage at their appointed time anyway, so now I’m expecting them to turn up at 8ish. In the meantime, I guess I’ll just have to grab another couple of pre-performance beers.
Propped up by Corenza C and Red Bull, I made it out to Grand West last night for the first OMD concert in SA since 1994.
This isn’t likely to be the most impartial review you’ve ever read. It was never going to be, because I could listen to 80’s synthpop forever and a day and still enjoy every single second of it. And when it comes to 80’s synthpop, OMD were.. are… it.
No pretence from Andy McClusky that his dancing style is bizarre at best, nor that he’s getting on a bit. On the the crowd’s reluctance to get involved:
Don’t be scared. I’m 53 and I’m still dancing like an idiot.
And then after a particularly energetic effort to Maid of Orleans:
It wasn’t dignified 25 years ago and it’s not got any better. But at least I can still do it!
And he could. An admittedly generally sycophantic crowd were transported back to earlier times as they knocked out hit after hit, Paul Humphreys repeating those electronic riffs which kept us entertained on cassette all those years ago.
Considering this was “soulless” electronic music, there was passion and, strangely, almost a spiritual element to the performance.
Oh – and the new stuff isn’t bad either. This was a very pleasant surprise.
OMD wrote Electricity when they were 16 – a fact that a quick glance at the lyrics will confirm. But as we’ve mentioned before with these 80s bands, those lyrics worked back then. And, as Kraftwerk showed, the singing was rather incidental to the electronic beats and the keyboard themes.
Thankfully, OMD have moved on lyrically since then. But their recent stuff still holds true to their musical roots – and for me, that’s just great.
We got back from the UK to find that 80’s legends OMD were performing in Cape Town next week. It’s this sort of post-holiday bonus that makes the air travel all worth it. Even with that baby on your flight.
A quick look at their discography is like a Who’s Who of 80s synth classics: Enola Gay, Electricity, Tesla Girls, Locomotion, Souvenir. But they also had hits in the 90s too: Sailing on the Seven Seas and Walking on the Milky Way. I’m now playing catch up with their latest album, History of Modern Part I.
So yes, we’ve got our tickets and we’re off to see them.
As with all bands from previous eras, their line-up has changed over the years. But unlike other “old” bands who have been to SA recently this touring line-up is the “classic” one from 1980-1996 (Humpheys, McCluskey, Cooper and Holmes). They may all be in their early 50s now, but as the video above shows, there’s no shortage of energy.
Linkin Park, Schminkin Park. I cannot wait for next Thursday.
OMD are playing at Grand West in Cape Town on Thursday 2nd August and Emperor’s Palace in Gauteng on Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th August. Tickets at Computicket.