SA Artists in London
12 BAR BOOs
The 12 Bar in London is a small venue in a back street off Charing Cross Road. It features a low ceiling (caused by a small gallery) and a Lion Matchbox size stage. Tonight Boo! made it their Lion Matchbox.
In front of a crowd of about 50, Chris Chameleon, Ampie Omo and Princess Leonie confidently blew us away. They have certainly earned the exclamation mark in their name.
Chris, in a gold chiffon mini dress and high heels was as usual centrestage. The man with the vocal chords of many colours who is so in touch with his feminine side that it's almost sexual harassment, pouted, minced and flirted with the audience that had too keep ducking to avoid getting hit in the face by Ampie Omo's trombone. The vocal style seems to have been influenced by Gé Korsten, David Bowie and The Chipmunks, soaring from operatic soprano to demonic growling with ease.
Occassionally between songs we are treated to Boo!-speak which is part 70's Jan Smuts airport announcement, part wookie and part bushman. This is ably translated by Ampie Omo, who looks like a Scandinavian heavy metal star dressed in an Omo Washing Powder T-Shirt, Elvis Flares and Platform Shoes. He is the multi talented instrumentalist, playing keyboards, trombone, trumpet, bongo, tambourine and a he sure plays a mean triangle. Finally, there's Princess Leonie, who hides behind his cap and bashed any percussion instrument in sight.
The joint rocks to the sound of 'OOAA', 'Mud', 'Lucki' and 'Welkom' as well as material from their new album 'Seventies, Eighties, Nineties, Naughties' (available at the door but not yet in SA). Invisible drums, bass guitars and trumpets abound in the audience who are all bopping and grinning. Boo! are a fun group to watch. (And were those men in suits, A&R men? Who knows?). It was a slick slice of SA's finest pop delivered to the faithful few who found the venue. In short: a jol!
HALF MOON OVER BOO!BON STREET
Saturday 5th May 2001
Walking across the Thames tonight I was reminded of the classic song "Baby it's Cold Outside". The second part ("but it's warm in here") was completed once we got into the back room of the Half Moon Pub in Putney, and it wasn't just the temperature that was hot, there were some hot sounds eminating from the stage.
Opening for Boo! is probably becoming more and more daunting and it seemed to show a bit as Dorp kicked off the evening. They seemed slightly nervous at first and had difficulty connecting with the audience, with just their small fanbase dancing in the front while the rest of the crowd waited patiently for Boo! However the turning point of their set was the catchy "Madcow" which got the audience's attention and from then on they were rocking. Slimmed down to a 3 piece, with lead singer Pieter Bezuidenhout sporting a crazed Michael Stipe look, they enhanced their reputation with their blend of rock and dance overlayed with some intelligent lyrics.
The burning issue at any Boo! gig is what is Chris Chameleon going to be wearing? Tonight he had on a tank top with the words Baby Love across the chest, a small pair of gym shorts and he was sporting a standard issue Civil Servant moustache. The group seemed more relaxed and mature tonight than at previous gigs. There was a confidence about them as they flirted with the audience relying less on gimmicks, strange outfits and strange noises but rather concentrating on the music which the audience lapped up. From the word go it was a party, with the crowd bouncing around and singing along. All the elements of a great night out. This was undoubtedly the best Boo! gig I've seen.
By the way if anyone is wandering what happened to the other half of the moon, it was sticking out the back of Chris Chameleon's gym shorts.
THE KARMA CHAMELEON CONCERT
Once again the Walkabout was the scene of some top class South African music. Starting with an acoustic set by Henry Ate (Calmer-Anne Swanepoel?), there were some initial worries with the sound level barely rising above the noise of the crowd, but these were quickly sorted and soon the crowd were screaming appreciation as each new song was recognised. Accompanied by Julian Sun (I think), the lady with the voice that you could eat your dinner off held the audience enraptured in her coy, girl next door manner, yet with her smoldering songs she blended this juxtaposition to create a perfect sound and atmosphere.
We were treated to a number of the favourites, the chorus of "Just" even managed an encore in itself. Towards the end of her set she asked us all to Boo her as she wanted to know how it felt (the next act being used to this sort of treatment). She didn't like it, but still smiled.
Boo! were in top form again. Die Lipstick Boer pouting and mincing as usual, much to the bemusement of the English security staff who did look a bit worried when the crowd started booing, but someone must have explained the joke as they returned to their stony faced selves quite soon. The set remains the same, but the man who knows how to roll is r's had us all bouncing around in another lekker night out in London's jol calendar.
BOO! AND DORP LIVE
At Dingwalls, 27 August 2002
A washing powder with long blonde hair, a princess with facial hair and a chameleon in a skimpy dress and high heels, ah yes, it's another night out in the Boo! calendar. This time they are opening for Dorp, and the venue is the rather prestigious Dingwalls in Camden. The gig is a filler for Boo! who had the choice of hanging around in Holland watching Dutch TV or playing in London...tough choices. The set is rather low key by Boo! standards. Yes it's slick and professional, but there seemed a slight air of tour weariness about them. That said, it was still a great show and the set ended with them being joined by a snake with dreadlocks, or more accurately a guy called Snakes (aka Andrew from THC) joined the band on stage and added an extra blast on the guitar. This moved the Boo! sound from Monki Punk to Gorilla Punk and meant that they went out on a high (and rather loud, but hey that's the way it should be) note.
Dorp on the other hand featured no royalty and no animals but I'm sure they must use washing powder. They could also be the answer to the world's energy crises as Pieter Bezuidenhout is constantly bouncing round the stage while DJ Fred is like a human Jack-in-the-Box behind his wheels of steel, disappearing to grab the next record, then bouncing up again. Even Kevin Kieswetter manages to run off stage to change guitar about 3 times during one song (although that may have been due to a broken string). If one could somehow harness all this energy there would be enough to light up a small Dorp.
Although this gig was a last minute affair, it was well attended which is a reflection on the pulling power of these 2 groups. On the night, neither disapponted.
Boo! at the Half Moon in Putney 6 February 2004
A certain part of the Boo! live show has always been a bit of a drag, but as the band walked onto the stage at the Half Moon in Putney on Friday night, there was a distinct lack of drag as Chris Chameleon was living up to his name and changing from his usual feminine look to a somewhat more masculine appearance. Despite this, the mincing and posing was still there and the music was turned up to fully hectic levels.
Mixing old favourites with new material from 'TNTLC' the party began from the first note and did not let up even after the band had retired from the stage. Through a programme of constant touring Boo! have become a slick, highly professional band who can have an audience eating out of the palm of their hands with ease. The sound seems to have become fuller in recent times and a few of the rough edges of early concerts have been smoothed away. However this is not to the detriment of the live package, in fact the energy and force of Boo! has become such that the audience is no longer made up of ex Pats, but estimates that at least 20% of the audience were non South Africans pays a huge testament to the power and appeal of Boo! Something not undeserved due to their hard work and astute business sense.
Not being distracted by the Drag Queen image of Chris allowed one to witness Boo! in their naked glory and they proved beyond doubt that behind all that make-up there beats a consummate professional's heart that is capable of entertaining with ease. So to anyone that was upset that Boo! was not a drag all I can say is that obviously this bar is too Boo!tilicious for you.
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