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David Gresham Records,
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Tic Tic Bang,
and Third Ear Music
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Hootie and the Blowfish - Live at the Bellville Velodrome
The storm that swept the city on Monday night may have deterred many from making the trip to the Bellville Velodrome to catch Hootie and the Blowfish's only Cape Town appearance. But the 5,000 fans who did go were treated to a powerful and confident rock performance, unseen in these parts for quite a while.
The Velodrome is a huge indoor venue and even though the promoters faced the stage across the width of the floor, instead of the normal lengthways, there was still enough space on either side to host a Zeppelin exhibition (Graf, not Led). Sons Of Trout grabbed the support slot due to them being Hooties' only labelmates with a fishy connection, but they played their usual 'The hippies that ate the Pogues' exuberant set and received a raucous response. They still seem to be having a far better time than their audience and their songs' unexpected time changes leave would-be moshers a little perplexed, but the songs on their new 'Ticks On George' album are more fluent. I was hoping they would play 'Kom Psalm', the best track on that album, but they played a short set, warmed up the crowd and swam off, leaving the stage free for the main attraction.
All previous misconceptions about Hootie and the Blowfish were soon dispelled as this casual rock band strolled on and proceeded to play a riveting two-and-half hour set with four full encores. By the end it seemed that the band and their ecstatic audience were equally reluctant to see this concert finish. Jim "Soni" Sonefeld (drums) and Dean Felber (bass) provided a low-key but solid rhythm section aided by Gary Greene (percussion) and John Nau (keyboards). Mark Bryan, looking like a kangaroo with a perm in long shorts, bounced around the stage hammering at his low-slung guitar with style and enthusiasm. But the focal pointof the band was vocalist Darius Rucker who we had expected to resemble atall bearded Lennox Lewis but turned out to be closer to Baby Jake Matlala. But this shaven-headed singer, with a voice as big as that boxer's heart, filled the arena with his "cream and Coco Pops" delivery as the band ran through their varied and well-paced set-list, packed with their string of hits, quality filler and cool choice of cover versions. The bulk of the set was from their latest 'Musical Chairs' album ('I Will Wait', 'Wishing', 'Only Lonely', 'Bluesy Revolution' and 'Michelle Post') but also included old favourites like 'Let Her Cry','Time', 'I Only Wanna Be With You', 'Hold My Hand' and 'The Old Man And Me'.
To emphasize the fact that these guys have not allowed their world-wide fame, platinum sales, and assorted Grammys to affect their down-to-earth, "just another hard-working bar band" approach, they rattled off a series of well-placed and appropriate covers. They did Bob Marley's 'Waiting In Vain', Kool and the Gang's 'Get Down On It', The Doobie Brothers' 'Long Train Runnin'' and a great version of The Doors''Break On Through'. They closed with a lengthy jam of the Steve Stills' classic 'Love The One You're With' that included a Zappa-type vocal excursion in the middle.
After the concert, I met my old friend Paul who always tries to catch any of these concerts as they pass through town. His attitude is that for the same price he can either sit for an evening in a restaurant or buy a carry-pack and go and see a concert. His contented smile said it all; Hootie and the Blowfish had served up a full and delicious rock music banquet.
Stephen "Sugar" Segerman
(Printed in the Cape Times 16 December 1998)
Lots of SA CDs to buy online at One World.
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