Entertainment Music

Mo Unplugged at High Flyers

So I skipped on out last night to High Flyers in Boksburg with JP for a beer or two and happened to see the one-man band “Mo” playing there. I have to say he had some pretty impressive guitar work.

His music choise was all over the place, which made it very interesting to watch and listen to. Sting’s “Message in a Bottle” was performed with a John Mayer-esque twist, as Mo liked to refer to it. Funny thing is, to everyone that was quite acceptable, but when I er, play, I like to use a bit of a Shaun Dewberry twist on things – somehow it is not as much appreciated by my audiences (what audiences?).

Further tunes that were strummed out included Coldplay’s “Clocks”, “Behind Blue Eyes”, “Mr Jones” and the Eagle-eyed Cherry-esque “Falling in Love Again”. Mo managed to use a capo quite effectively – it seemed to bring songs down to a simple set of chords, and I’m seriously now contemplating getting one for myself having seen the use thereof.

Later on Mo performed a well done, but rather shit sounding version of “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”, but that did not bother the rather large crowd – they enjoyed it all the same. Mo then stepped things up a bit with an awesome Radiohead “High and Dry”, managing to hit the high notes very well, and it seems that Mo has a pretty good voice. Just before we left we were also treated to Pearl Jam’s “Better Man” and the last song of the evening for us was Billy Joel’s “Piano Man”, complete with harmonica intro too.

Nice one Mo, I’m sure I’d enjoy seeing your performance again sometime.
Evening summary: Good service, pleasant atmosphere, friendly staff, and good music. It is definitely one to repeat sometime soon.

Entertainment Music

‘Burst’ at Charelli’s

Thursday evenings are quickly becoming “new music talent scout evenings” for Brad and I. Last night a four piece rock outfit going by the name ‘Burst’ took the stage at Charelli’s.

From the outset it was obvious that the guys were not as polished as other acts we’ve seen, but somehow that was a good thing. Having a performance that is a bit rough cut fitted them well. Their slightly less polished solos (at times – they like to pretend they can’t play), the odd off-key singing note, and some slightly deviant cover versions proved that they are a working band, but they enjoy doing what they’re doing too – rocking out.

Their repertoire was good – older Green Day hits like ‘Basket Case’, Collective Soul’s ‘December’ (always an awesome song played live), Better than Ezra’s ‘Good’ and some ZZ Top got them off to a lively start.

On their next set they chased down Pink Floyd’s ‘Another Brick in the Wall’ in hybrid form of Part 1 and Part 2. This was followed by the likes of Smash Mouth’s ‘I’m a believer’, the Rolling Stones’ ‘Paint it Black’ and a phenomenally powerful and energetic rendition of Metallica’s ‘Until It Sleeps’ – the highlight of their set by far. It became plainly obvious that ‘Burst’ is all about hard rock music.

More followed with Live’s ‘Lightning Crashes’ (the lyrics were way off base but it still sounded good, and hey, the song was in fact played specifically for Brad and myself) – cheers to Burst for their audience involvement, despite a dismal performance by that very audience who looked like a bunch of clones watching TV or something. They then wrapped things up very neatly with more including James’ ‘Sit Down’, U2’s ‘With or without you’ (the lead singer was professing some Irish blood) and a good, heavy cover of Creed’s ‘My Sacrifice’.

The lead vocalists’s voice was far more powerful and rich than that of the lead guitarist. Although there were some songs only the lead guitarist would have been able to sing, the lead guitar should probably concentrate on his sometimes sketchy guitar work a little more (he was awesome at solos though).

Ultimately it was a good performance – they did what they were expected to do and they did it well. Hopefully they’ll be playing again soon. Thanks to ‘Burst’ for a great evening’s entertainment.

Entertainment Music

Saving Silence at Charelli’s

Last night’s adventures turned into an unexpected treat – Brad and I went out for what was supposed to be a quick drink at Charelli’s – and discovered a great rock band playing there. Saving Silence is a 5 piece outfit boasting powerful melodic rock, solid acoustic guitarwork and a few edgy twists in their set too.

Highlights of the performance were the ballad written for a cousin’s wedding (unfortunately the lead singer tended to mumble the song names), the funky reggae tune where they bring on the rapper, and a cover of ACDC’s Thunderstruck on acoustic. Very good stuff. Their album is due out around August.

As a side note, I like the idea of a good black rapper heading up a straight-laced rock band. Serious rock with just a hint of funkiness through rap, kwaito, R&B and soul could do very well in South Africa, targeting the right combination of audiences. This sort of collaboration has to be done right, in the same way it was with “Can you feel it building?” by Tweak, Pro-Verb and Josie. Artists, are you listening?


REM Concert Photos

Stage lighting and the band

Well, here it is, eventually, the link to my (prohibited) photos of R.E.M.’s concert in Johannesburg on 10 March 2005.

There’s actually a dodgy video clip or four in that collection too.
(I eventually ran out of memory on my camera).

Michael Stipe looks out at the audience

Entertainment Music

R.E.M live in Johannesburg, 10 March 2005

Brilliant. Yep. That is the word that best describes the entire R.E.M. experience. Sure there were downsides and upsides, but it averages out to brilliant.

My first coup of the evening was getting my camera in. If I pay R370 for a ticket I’d like to be able to take a couple of snaps. So I smuggled it in. The photos will be up here soon. Brad almost outclassed me by nearly getting a six pack of beers into the dome, but was caught out at the last minute.

The act opened with Michael Stipe introducing Arno Carstens & New Porn to much applause. Thinking back to Arno’s performance, it can said that it was solid, and there is no doubt that he and the new band are very talented. However I did feel that Arno managed to alienate most of the audience, partly through the choice of music, but more so because his stage presence was missing. Thinking back to the few times I saw Arno with Springbok Nude Girls, perhaps there is a pattern showing itself here. So my advice to Arno – keep playing and writing, but talk to the audience, let them feel more involved, don’t just stand up and perform in front of everyone as if you were a music video. To quote something I heard “Concentrate a bit less on the hair and a bit more on the performance”.

Once I had finished dashing to the bathrooms and queueing at the beer counter I dashed back through the crowd in the golden circle, balancing four beers and spilling very little, to where Brad and Nadia and Co. were standing, arriving just in time to jam to “Bad Day”, the second song of the set.

From here R.E.M. took us on a musical journey with stunning visual effects, candy for our eyes. The whole repertoire was in there, from new to old. Each and every song prompting the crowd to sing along where they knew the lyrics or cheer at the end when they didn’t.

I was disappointed in the audience. I don’t believe they gave it their all and were as enthusiastic as they could have been. By and large this statement excludes the patrons of the Golden Circle who were vocal and trying to work the crowd from within. Although there was a large amount of singing along to songs people knew, there was no enthusiasm for clapping along to beats and there was little dancing or jumping around. Ok, except for us few crazies.

Michael Stipe was subtle yet brilliant, from singing through a megaphone to simply standing and nodding or crouching on stage. He can still perform equally alongside all the twenty year olds learning about rock nowadays. He was wearing his trademark Mask of Zorro – in blue this time, and I was surprised that nobody else had cottoned on to his masked performance thing, and strangely I was the only one that I saw who mimiced this with a mask of my own. Thank goodness it was in blue too – I think a lot of people must have seen me and wondered, only to be pleasantly surprised when Michael walked on stage.

In the end, after two hours of great music, the trademark closing “Man on the Moon” was spectacularly performed, with everyone making the most of the final minutes of a real treat of a show.