People poured into Kirstenbosch for the last concert in the Old Mutual Summer Concert Series. Over 6000 of them. I think part of the incentive to get a ticket was non-music related; the beautiful weather, the venue, the promise of food and drink, and the opportunity to see and be seen in all of one’s hippy-chic glory, meant an evening not to be missed.
As hard as that might be for musicians and music lovers to accept, it’s part of what allows Kirstenbosch to give artists a bigger audience and introduce a wealth of potential new fans. Having said that, Jeremy Loops is no ‘developing artist’ – he is an established name in South Africa and has a huge following. Three of his songs have been given a lot of airplay on 5fm over the last few months, a clear indication that his particular brand of folk music has made the crossover to South Africa’s more commercial music scene.
If you’ve been following Loops on Facebook you would know that this event was a very big deal for him – his comments have been leading up to it for months – and his feelings about it came through in his nerves at the beginning; but his combined humility and excitement makes audiences instantly warm to him, and he settled into his groove within the second song.
There was a beautiful moment of clarity as the separate parts came together. Jeremy Loops is all about recording each instrument live on stage, then looping and layering sound after sound. Watching this organic process evolve its own power is very satisfying, both for the audience and for him. As he relaxed and layered the second banjo part and then a basic beat, the act was smooth and natural and it was obvious that he was playing his own game with his own rules.
In the song ‘Power’ (a featured single on 5fm), he added beatboxing and harmonica over the guitar layers, and the huge crowd of die-hard fans swaying and waving in front of the stage swelled to a good 500.
‘Row your Boat’ turned the children’s rhyme into a beautiful, heady ‘folk rave’ song – and when the deep bass drum kicked in, he got some good primal shouting. ‘Higher Stakes’ added the skilled sounds of the violinist James Hall and Jamie Faull on drums. ‘Mission to the Sun’ (aka ‘Howling’), another 5fm single, was delivered in album-like quality. Jamie Faull moved over to his principle instrument, the sax, and made sounds smoother than a baby’s bottom, effortlessly layering the pop with that special jazz sophistication.
Motheo Moleko came in with rap and vocals for ‘My Shoes’ and the third single hit, ‘Down South’. Moleko’s voice and presence was unpretentious, clear and confident, and fitted happily into the whole. By this time the artists on stage included Mr. Sakitumi on bass (the well-loved Capetonian producer, songwriter and bassist) as well as Asher Gamedze on drums, and Nate Woodman on keys. The Jeremy Loops one man band had evolved – for the last few songs – into a full, multi-talented band on the Kirstenbosch stage.
By the end of the show, everyone was on their feet dancing. Mr. Loops wears his heart on his sleeve and we loved the show all the more for it. Early on he had stated his goal of making the unhappy happy and the happy happier, and with him and his music bouncing and cheering, we couldn’t deny him that.
Marie-Claire de Villiers
Marie-Claire is a singer/songwriter at www.soundcloud.com/marie_e, and composer, producer and music sourcer at Imagenheart Productions.
PHOTO COURTESY OF MATTHEW STRETCH
Jeremy Loops performed at the last of the Old Mutual Kirstenbosch Summer Concerts on 6 April 2014.