Sunday the 11th of September dawned bright and sunny in beautiful KZN, and I was off to East Coast Radio’s Durban Day, for the first time ever. Somehow I’d always missed this mini-festival before due to it being during term, but not this time. So off we went to the stunning Moses Mabhida Stadium to watch acts such as Watershed, Elvis Blue and Freshlyground.
The first performer was Capetonian Farryl Perkis, the only act that I was not really familiar with, but I was impressed by his very chilled, calm performance, and the crowd clearly enjoyed him. The Arrows were up next, but first I undertook a little creeping mission for my first round of celeb photo’s of the day. I had a photo with hip-hop star HHP, and then with Farryl himself, whom I informed that I was moving to Cape Town next year. He said he’d see me there. Ah, he probably just says that to everyone…
The Arrows got the audience on their feet with their upbeat, dancey vibes, and songs which were clearly familiar to Durbanites- their home crowd. Having seen this band before, I was expecting their usual repertoire which includes a drumming/dance-off between drummer Christie and lead vocalist Pam. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the set thoroughly. As soon as the girls left the stage, I went creeping for a photo. I managed one with Pam, and told her that I’d seen them open for The Script in June.
Aaaaand next up was Mr. Elvis Blue. Cue just a tiny fangirl scream when he walked on stage. Of course, the guy was brilliant on Idols, but the fact is that he is even better in real life. He is an absolute rocker, the stage is where the man belongs. His voice sounded perfect, even though we later found out that he was actually so sick that he’d been in hospital the night before, but had still managed to perform the show, when many people would have pulled out. Elvis’ cover of “Hallelujah” had me positively squealing with delight, I hadn’t expected it at all, and he pulled off a real rock version of the classic song. What disappointed me was that so few people knew the words. So here’s my advice to you: before you see Elvis Blue live, learn the words to “Hallelujah”! Not even all 7248392753489 verses that Leonard Cohen wrote, just two will do! When Elvis left the stage, I was off to accomplish my main objective: get a photo with him. Of course, this would have been a lot easier if I had not been surrounded by about a million ten-year-olds who wanted exactly the same thing. Sigh. Someone put an age restriction of concerts, please! (Let’s just forget, for now, that I went to my first concert when I was nine…) Anyway, I did manage to get a photo with Mr. Blue, real name Jan Hoogendyk, and he even signed my arm in permanent marker. Winning.
Next up was Lloyd Cele, the runner up on the Elvis’ season of Idols SA. Form Idols, I knew that he was talented, but Lloyd’s cover of One Republic’s hit ‘Apologize’ left me in shocked silence: this man really knows how to rock! After Lloyd came HHP, who had the crowd going absolutely crazy and singing along happily, as “make the circle bigger, make the circle bigger, make the circle bigger” resounded throughout the park.
After HHP, I decided that I needed a barrier slot for the last two acts: Watershed and Freshlyground. Attaining the barrier was almost too easy. Durban people are clearly not used to concerts, and by this time it was late afternoon, and they were fading fast. I simply made my way forward, and stole people’s places as they ducked out for a sit down before Watershed started. Watershed were brilliant of course, I had last seen them almost three years ago, and I’d always wanted to see them again, but the opportunity had never presented itself until now. I gave an absolute squeal of delight when frontman Craig Hinds declared that they were going to play ‘Southern Cross’, which, although a cover, is my favourite Watershed song by far. And it was beautiful. The band also performed my second favourite ‘Close My Eyes’, and of course, their biggest hit, ‘Indigo Girl’. As soon as Craig sat down at his keyboard, I shouted “INDIGO GIRL!”. I’m getting rather good at predicting setlists.
The closing act was Freshlyground, whom I had never seen live before, and they absolutely blew me away, they were without a doubt the highlight of the day. They just have the vibe of a band that has been playing together for so long that everything is perfectly natural on stage. All I can say is “wow”. The way they dance, the rhythm, the way they connect with their audience, and the fact that they clearly love what they do made for an unforgettable performance. There was not a single person in that audience who was not dancing and singing along to song such as “Doo Be Doo” and “I’d Like”. The final song they performed was ‘Waka Waka’- the recorded version of which is sung with Shakira- and I’ve decided that Shakira’s version of the song should be outlawed; Freshlyground’s version is the only one that should be allowed to exist. It mattered very little whether or not anyone knew what “tsaminaminaehehwakawakaeheh” meant, or even what language was, everyone from the two-year-old baby in his mother’s arms, to the 50-year-old white man, the 16-year-old Indian girl, and the 47-year-old white woman was clapping in time to the music. What an epic ending to an epic day.
South African talent is overlooked so quickly and easily, but Durban Day really demonstrated the amount of talent possessed by our local artists. Every single one of these acts are good enough to go international if they so choose, the chorus of ‘Waka Waka’ rang true yesterday, this really is time for Africa. The power of music never fails to astound me; I witnessed an older lady make her way through the crowd of youngsters to ask HHP if she could hug him, because she is such a fan of his music. In the words of my mother, as we left the venue “if politicians turned to music, they could unite the country”. Truer words were never spoken.