The Killers at Val de Vie – Review

We went, we saw, we made it back almost partially unscathed.
Personal photos, courtesy of Mrs 6k’s K850i are on the way, but in the meantime, here are some others to keep you going.

The Venue
Val de Vie is very nice. Posh. And the concert crowd (and the concert, actually) seemed a bit out of place. The stage was the usual Big Concerts stage, the big screens with the one rogue pixel, the rectangular stage and the pretty impressive array of lighting. The field was well kept, nice short grass, flat – limited chances of twisted ankles etc. I thought the free* bar was well run (went several times, queued a bit), the loos were plentiful (went twice – no queuing!!).
I was rather impressed.

The Parking/Traffic Issue
This morning, I note that there’s a huge storm about the traffic and the parking at the concert. If I see the words “epic fail” one more time, it will just be… well… an “epic fail”. On the way in, we met traffic just before the N1 junction and then we queued all the way into the estate. We had (as everyone had) received two emails from Big Concerts last week, both stating (amongst other things):

Fans are advised to arrive at the venue as early as possible in order to prevent pressure on the roads approaching the estate. Gates are scheduled to open at 16:00.

We would have been there at 16:00 on the dot. Who thinks that if they aim to turn up at the venue at 17:00 or later then they’re going to sail straight in? Seriaas? As it was, we got in and parked up just after half past four. Fine by me.
On the way out, it was hugely congested – much like other gigs and sporting events I have been to in the UK and SA. Back to that email again:

The show will be over by 22:30 and we expect traffic volumes to have eased by midnight.

Which was pretty much exactly right as well. Actually, the show finished at 22:15 and I left the venue by quarter past midnight. But I’m not going to quibble over a couple of quarter hours.

I refuse to blame Big Concerts (the promoter) for the “epic fail” parking and traffic. I never saw it. It was busy – hugely busy, sure. Were people not expecting that, despite the emails and the information? Even if Big Concerts had opened the gates an hour earlier, people would still have left it until the last minute to try and get in and then ignored the well-publicised warnings about the traffic after the concert.
You got home a bit late – big deal. Was Mummy angry because today is a school day or are you just jumping on the bandwagon because you need something to whine about?

The Support
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Zebra and Giraffe are the most promising band to come out of South Africa since, well, certainly since I’ve been here. I always feel sorry for support acts as they are so regularly overlooked, but this was a huge opportunity for Z&G and they gave it everything. In My Eyes stood out for me as did The Knife. There was energy, there was passion. Greg Carlin’s voice was perfectly on form and the audience interaction was perfect in tone and quantity and was well reciprocated.
Zebra and Giraffe and The Dirty Skirts are playing in Cape Town this Saturday in a (not ever so) well-publicised event at WBHS and I’ll certainly be there, because I just can’t get enough of these guys at the moment.

The Killers
Ah. The main event. And – I know this is going to prompt howls of derision – but can I say that I was a little bit disappointed?
The hype, the build-up, the anticipation had been huge. And yes, the set was good – it was really, really good – but for me, it didn’t live up to the expectation. Maybe that was because my expectations were too high, but why shouldn’t they have been? After all, this is one of the biggest bands in the world right now and they had n thousand fans eating out of their hands.
In truth, it was a one man show. Brandon Flowers has remarkable energy and a remarkable presence: as he approached the microphone before they kicked off with Human as if working out how best to attack it. But as he strutted around and posed like he was the only one on stage, it began to feel a bit faux; a bit contrived.
This was a show that they have done all over the world and in many ways, it was as if they were just doing another show. Like there was nothing special about it for them. You knew that the ad libs had been ad libbed for the last six months: “Is it too early to say that you’re a bit louder than Johannesburg yet?”. If anything, it was just too well done.

That said, they know their stuff. None of the B-side rubbish – this was a catalogue of their hits and there’s nothing that a crowd loves more than hit after hit after hit. Smile Like You Mean It and Mr Brightside  (written about a bloke from the industrial East end of Sheffield) were particularly well received. Confetti and pyrotechnics assisted with wowing the audience and there were numerous sing along moments to boot. Ronnie Vannucci on the drums was one of the forgotten heroes as Flowers pandered to the audience and stole the show, but what a passionate performance at the back.
The encore was undeniably spectacular. Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine and When You Were Young were a superb end to a memorable show, but one which never quite reached its full potential for me.

An excellent afternoon and evening out. Great company (including (briefly, at least) the legendary Ian MacDonald from SA – The Good News), a great vibe and a great concert. And the perfect end to a spectacular party weekend. And while The Killers didn’t quite do it for me, I think I was perhaps in the minority. Mrs 6k loved every single minute and that’s a rare, yet very welcome, vote of approval.
Next up for Val de Vie is Elton John and they’re going to have buy a teleporter if they’re going to keep Cape Town’s old tannies happy.

UPDATE: Kfm/Big Concerts comment on the traffic:

Heavy volumes were always expected and as a consequence fans were repeatedly advised through various channels to assist the authorities in reducing the traffic load.  These requests included allowing enough time to enter and exit the venue; the sharing of rides (carpooling), and a general call for patience and respect for other fans on the road.  
Regrettably it appears from the reports provided through the Venue Operational Centre that the warnings were not heeded and many motorists left their approach to the venue much too late.  As a consequence of the congestion they experienced, tempers flared and many people simply parked their cars illegally blocking the venue entry and exit. 

That’s what I just said. 

* free: allegedly because the liquor licence was refused/not applied for.

61 thoughts on “The Killers at Val de Vie – Review

  1. I just have to add my two cents 🙂
    We all had similar experiences, after all, we were all at the same concert.
    We left Claremont at around 14h30, and after a quick stop at the N1 Engen, parked our car at 16h30. Not too bad I dont think. Venue was stunning, cant complain about being encased by mountains. My group were slightly disgruntled by the fact that we could only buy beer after 18h00, but a fantastic decision was made to GIVE us beer! and it worked, it stopped a riot. Well done whoever came up with that one!

    I dont have to go into detail about the AMAZING Killers performance, they really did rock my socks off!

    We took the advise of the organisers and stuck around for a bit, but were a bit too tired to party longer. Once at the car we realised how many people were actually at this event, incredible! Seeing that the cars were not moving, it was decided that the best would be to wait it out. One of our friends luckily had an inflatable mattress in his car, and we settled down, very comfortably, for a 3 hour snooze.
    We awoke just before 2am, took a walk around to wake ourselves up and survey the traffic, and decided it was a good time to leave. Home again at 3am, tired, but very very happy 🙂

  2. Okay. I admit that we left it a bit late in getting there – sure.

    The first problem was that no parkings were marked out, a bit of red tape would have been good. Parking was a free for all and cars were parked in badly. A bit of organisation and structure here would have helped later on.

    But we got there in time and enjoyed the concert. The Killers were superb. The queues for beer where too long though. I think they could have done with another beer tent maybe. Also, what was with the little glasses? Big glasses would have surely kept queues slightly shorter.

    But on the way out. Come on. I also stuck around on the field until 12:00 am – I too read the emails etc. But I got out of there well after 2:00 am, no-one was directing the traffic and it was a complete shambles. It not that we got home late, it’s that we were completely stuck for 4 hours.

    Also, one dirt road to one giant parking lot. It was never going to end well.

  3. PS that was supposed to be a positive comment. Yes the traffic was a pain, but it added to the experience. Its easy to get upset about things, especially when you are sitting in a car for 3 hours. but there are solutions. we just looked at it from the perspective that we are all trying to get home, so lets just chill. I think in future we will always have an inflatable mattress with us! maybe even a tent 🙂

  4. Indy > Good for you. I knew you’d come round to my way of thinking evenutally. 😉 Doesn’t life look good from here and wasn’t Brandon Flowers almost excellent?

    Dave > I think they can ID you from your email address. I guess that you have to lodge a complaint first. And if they are selling spin via hush merchandise, then the floodgates will surely have been opened.

    Taryn > See – that’s the way to deal with things. Stressing out is going to get you nowhere. Sleeping the delay away is Ayoba.

    Rowan > I accept that some people got hugely delayed and that is unacceptable. But that wasn’t my experience at all. And I don’t think people can single out Big Concerts for the ills of the world.
    Agree with your one dirt road observation though.

    Taryn > I saw it as such. Although, the last time I got caught with something inflatable in my car, it cost me R500 in bribes to escape prosecution.

  5. I completely disagree about Zebra and Giraffe. I saw them at the Killers concert in Joburg the Friday before. I must say I have seen many, far more talented and promising South African acts. Z&G struck me as boring, and completely lacked any stage personality.

    Interesting that the traffic was such a mess in Cape Town. As it happens, it was a complete stuff-up in Joburg too – traffic lights were out as well, compounding the problem. The cause and solution to the problem is simple – Big Concerts need to get the professionals who understand traffic flow to direct the traffic. Easy.

  6. Shaun > Each to their own on the music front. I’m going to check them out again in Wynberg this weekend. It’s close enough to my house that I can actually walk, so no traffic woes.

    Loving your solution to the VdV traffic carnage, but have to point out that Big Concerts had the traffic department from the local municipality on board when organising the event and also on the evening in question. So – who else should they have turned to?

    Leave a Reply