The moment I stepped into The Mahogany Room, I stepped out of my comfort zone. A far cry from dusty farms with hordes of rock fans, and giant stadiums filled with EDM artists’ flashing lights, The Mahogany Room is a small, cozy and dimly-lit venue that is inherently warm and inviting and dominated by jazz. It is a place well-known for giving jazz artists a creative base in the Mother City, for giving artists the platform to share their art with an appreciative audience. Of course, it embraces the past as well: while enjoying a drink at the bar, I took some time to gaze at the striking black and white portraits of famous South African jazz artists that pepper the walls of the room. Some of these photographs, I was informed by the friendly bar staff, were taken years before when many of these artists were in exile abroad. As much as I wanted to delve into more of the history, I was not here to look at pictures, and surprisingly, neither was I here to listen to a jazz set.
The Spring Lovemore Show is a delightful collaboration between two talented South African musicians and singers, Luna Paige and Gerald Clark. Paige and Clark began collaborating in 2011, and their pairing of beautiful vocals and slick instrumentals proved to be a winning combination as the pair embarked on a successful national tour in 2012. With that in mind, I was ready to be serenaded by a blend of soulful blues, foot-stomping country and emotional rock ballads.
The Mahogany Room promises intimate performances, and proved to be the perfect platform for The Lovemore Show, which is all about (you guessed it) love. Luna Paige and Gerald Clark take their audience on a journey to explore love in all its nitty-gritty aspects, from the heartache of letting love slip through your fingers to the fear of commitment, from cheating lovers to newfound giddy passions. “I’ve got nothing to hide,” Luna confides, and indeed these performers don’t hold anything back.
Luna and Gerald sprinkle their performances with little anecdotes, giving us a glimpse into the emotions and stories behind each song. It infuses their performance with a particular passion, and gave me the feeling of being more like a confidante than a listening audience. The Lovemore Show is so intimate, it is almost impossible to imagine it on a big stage, which makes it more than suitable for the cosy confines of the Mahogany Room.
The Lovemore Show is a mix of covers and original works. The cover songs include famous hits from artists such as Robert Plant, Alison Krauss, Johnny Cash, June Carter, Kid Rock, Sheryl Crow, Willie Nelson, Norah Jones, Etta James and Neil Young. One of the songs to listen out for is Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow’s ‘Picture’, a tale of cheating lovers that Luna and Gerald deliver with an explosive energy that is impossible to resist. Of the pair’s original songs, ‘Wildfire’ is arguably the most evocative. A tale of muses and inspiration, the story takes an unexpected and heartfelt turn when inspiration sours and irritation sets in. Most of us know the feeling of frustration when you just can’t get someone out of your head, and Paige brings that emotion into life with achingly well chosen phrases.
As a duet, Luna Paige and Gerald Clark form a stellar duo. Great vocals, an excellent choice of songs, and Clark’s fantastic ability to make his guitar truly sing, all combine to deliver one seriously impressive package that deserves to go far.
Luna Paige and Gerald Clark performed The Lovemore Show at The Mahogany Room on 23 October.