SA Rock Lists

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SA Artists in London



Britain is currently gripped by election fever (i.e. we're all sick of it). One worrying issue for the parties is voter apathy. At the Walkabout tonight I was more concerned about Wouter apathy {note for non-Afrikaans readers: "Wouter" is a common first name pronounced "voter" - ed}. Waar was jy Wouter? En waar was al jou pÍls? You have just missed one helluva jol!!

Starting off with an acoustic set by Valiant Swart in Bob Doelyn (kitaar en harmonica) mode we were treated to some new songs that should be appearing on the new album. Dorpstraat Revisited Revisited? After a few numbers he was joined on stage by Die Blues Broer Albert Frost and we rocked through some more familiar tracks.

Next was Piet Botha accompanied by Jonathan Martin. They performed a slick rock/blues acoustic set with Piet's deep gravelly voice being the third instrument on stage. Not the initial flames of a braai fire, more like the moment when the coals are just right and tshhhhh!!! the first steak hits the grill. Ah, that's lekker.

The Afrikaans have a word that sums up the final act quite well, and that word is "sjoe". Akkedis {an akkedis is a lizard - ed} came, they saw, they conquered, then conquered some more. I don't think I have seen a band rock like they did tonight. Even Valiant Swart who was in the audience by then, was lured into accompanying them on an air guitar (which he had told me earlier he got free with a Guitar Magazine...)

Songs like 'Werkloos in Afrika', 'Sweet Stellenganja' (a take on Valiant's Sweet Stellanganga featuring part of 'Wimoweh'; "in die oerwoud, die moerse oerwoud") and 'Jannie Cocaine' were blasted from the small stage with a vigour and confidence that was tangible. To top this off, Gerald Clark from Delta Blue lent his honey-dipped blues vocals to a version of 'Hoochie Coochie Man' that had the audience begging for more.

So Wouter you missed out on this gig, however you still have a chance to catch them at The Salsibury Pub and I would strongly advise that you do.

Piet Botha, Valiant Swart & Akkedis at the Salisbury Pub
9 June 2001

Something quite special happened at the Salisbury Pub in Turnpike Lane tonight. The Pub itself is reminiscent of a hotel kroeg in some small dorp in SA. It is somewhat rundown but spacious (unusual for London) and has a lot of character.

The crowd was buzzing and it didn't take long for the musicians to respond to this. A solid acoustic set by Piet Botha and Jonathan Martin went down well with those who were not queuing up at the bar for the happy hour-priced drinks. This was quickly followed by Valiant Swart who started off acoustically, had a few sound problems and decided to switch to his electric guitar. He was joined on stage by his usual cohort, Albert Frost, as well as Delta Blue bassist Schalk van der Merwe and Akkedis drummer, Rudi Dennis. He christened this ensemble the First World Orchestra, and they went into overdrive and joint was rocking.

Another high octane set from Akkedis followed, which included an emotive cover of Neil Young's 'Like a Hurricane'. At this stage of the proceedings I began to realise what the phrase 'Wall of Sound' meant as I was being hit by tangible waves of unadulterated ROCK!!

Due to London's liquor license rules, most pubs have to close at 11pm. However, if you have an entertainment license (which the Salisbury obviously has) you can carry on till later in the night, and this is what these guys did. Piet Botha returned with Jonathan Martin, Albert Frost, Arthur & Rudi Dennis from Akkedis and an electric guitar and performed a pounding rock set that included a cover of the Stones' 'Dead Flowers'. The image of Piet hunched over his guitar, manically producing a raw, blinding hot barrage of sound will remain with me for a long time. Think Neil Young at his most hectic to get the picture.

Then it was back to another Akkedis set (although we had been promised Valiant Swart, I think he had become Die Missing Boer). I have been hugely impressed by this group who, until this tour were unknown to me. They produce great melodic rock tunes that are also good fun ('oh dis lekker om dronk te wees, dronk te wees en jonk te wees'). These are expertly executed on stage with a good helping of showmanship and always with a hard rocking ethos.

When I faded at 1:00am, the party was still going on. The crowd was still exited and abuzz, and as one ou said to me it had the vibe of the Koos gig earlier this year, to which I must add "ja, but a helluva lot louder".

Piet Botha & Jonathan Martin at the Springbok Bar 11 June 2001

If you'll follow me through the main bar area to the room at the back, these used to be the cellars as you will see from the low curved ceilings. It's a nice long room with low tables and stools. Please take a seat and relax. To eat you can choose from the best pap and wors (met sous) this side of the equator, or if you like it a bit spicy, try our delicious bobotie.

For your entertainment tonight, we have South Africa's Ambasador of Rock, Mr Piet Botha along with his talented assistant Mr Jonathan Martin, expect a treat. Marvel to some hard hitting numbers made famous by Jack Hammer and Mr Botha in his own right, be awestruck by cover versions of songs by Neil Young, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, and mellow out to the expertly executed acoustic dueling of these two maestro's. Grow goose bumps to the baritone vocals of Mr Botha, or melt to the pureness of Mr Martin's.

The wine tonight? A semi sweet white, with a touch of melancholy. Savour it as it will be gone before you realise, but will leave a warm glow inside. Evenings like this are hard to come by these days, treasure the memory. I trust you have enjoyed your evening.

Piet Botha, Valiant Swart and Akkedis at the Salisbury Pub 13 June 2001

Being a school night, the crowd was not as strong as it had been on Saturday, but there was a good helping of dedicated groupies and those just wanting a midweek jol to make it happen. It was also Valiant's "last night with the poms".

There was no messing around tonight as Piet Botha and Jonathan Martin launched into an in-your-face, hard hitting rock set. Two guitars have never sounded better together. They were joined for the last few numbers by the Akkedis boys and blasted out a spine chilling air guitar inducing couple of songs, definitely not for the fainthearted.

Valiant Swart has a guitar called "ice cream" which is the colour of vanilla ice cream, but the sounds were far from vanilla flavour. Determined to leave on a high, Valiant, accompanied by Albert 'the stuff that legends are made of' Frost, Rudi Dennis and Schalk van der Merwe, performed the set of the tour. Each songs was a orgasm of sound, flowing from the stage in forceful torrents. Of particular force was 'Cyber Sakkie' and 'Roekeloos'. The latter, for the non-South African readers, translates as 'Reckless' and I know what you're thinking, you thinking Braai-ing Adams, but comparisons to the man who did everything for you would be like comparing raw wors still in it's clingwrap with piping hot, flame grilled, juicy, freshly braaied wors. A fitting farewell.

I left after this set and just as Akkedis was starting theirs. Nothing personal ouens, but I needed some sleep, besides which there's always Friday night. Still the little I saw tonight only entrenched my belief that Afrikaans Rock music is alive and well, and boy is it kicking.

Piet Botha, Jonathan Martin & Akkedis at the Salisbury, Turnpike Lane 15 June 2001

Thanks to some well timed tube delays I was treated to missing most of Piet Botha & Jonathan Martin's first set. Thanks a lot London Underground. However, I arrived just in time to hear the old Jack Hammer tune 'Liberty' which has become one of my favourites from this duet. Piet had moved this to a little later in his set. Thanks a lot Piet.

At this stage of the proceedings he had been joined by the Akkedis boys and was playing an electric guitar, so this powerful song was given extra oomph, and oomph from the top drawer I might add.

Akkedis' first set was probably their worste of the tour as there seemed to be a few misunderstandings between the Dennis brothers making it a bit disjointed. However they can be forgiven a few slips as their performances on the tour so far have been immaculate. Also these hitches were not legion and did not detract too much from the music. The original compositions, now quite familiar to me, and an impresssive cover of Neil Young's 'Like a Hurricane' were worth putting up with the small difficulties for.

After a break where Geri Helliwel and Robber Williams entertained the crowd (please note that this last sentence passed my spell check test), Hammer, the Kid and the Lizard Lighties repossesed the stage and rocked us with some more Jack Hammer and Piet Botha tunes, and threw in some 'Dead Flowers' from the Stones and travelled 'All along the Watchtower' for good measure. These rock classics nestled comfortably in between the original stuff.

In the last set of the evening (circa 1:30am) Arthur Dennis assumed his Bone-ou persona (and I don't mean a witch doctor) with his leather trousers and shades. The hitches of the previous set were well buried with weeds growing on it's grave as they delivered a slick, sweat drenched performance. 'Sweet Stellenganga' with it's 'Lion Sleeps Tonight' samples is already a favourite with the crowds and even had some of the English folk who had just popped down the pub for a pint bopping around the bar. A cover version of 'Black Magic Woman' boosted the elevated eyebrow stakes and I had to look twice to make sure that Sultana himself had not walked on stage. A great comeback set which the pouring rain that I walked out into could not dampen.

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