Some people might tell you that Daniel Bedingfield is a washed-up British pop singer, whose career in South Africa began and ended with his cutie-pie hit ‘If You’re Not The One’, that broke every teenage girl’s heart back in 2002. Those people would be wrong. Very wrong indeed, for Daniel Bedingfield is nothing less than a phenomenon on the stage.
The rumour mill says that Bedingfield is a shy lad, but in my experience, this could not be further from the truth. It takes either a large amount of guts or a very thick skin to step out in front of an audience of 5000 odd Capetonians, whilst clad in a purple kilt and star-spangled tights, but Mr Bedingfield pulled off this feat without batting an eyelid. And strutting around the audience before the show, posing for photos, holding children and kissing girls’ hands, the man is possessed of a charm and charisma so absolute that it is almost unnerving.
And then of course, we come to the actual performance: opening the set with the reggae-infused ‘Out of My Head’, he encouraged the fans to join in by teaching the crowd the words first. This level of audience-participation continued throughout the show, even during new songs like the haunting ‘Secret Fear’. This particular song comes with a rather raunchy video, which Bedingfield playfully warned young members of the audience against watching, before jumping into the crowd to continue singing.
Before long, the audience was on its feet, singing along happily to Daniel’s rendition of his sister Natasha Bedingfield’s well-known hit, ‘These Words’. He was assisted here by his backing band, comprising entirely of South African musicians. One wonders how or why an overseas artist such as Bedingfield would get Tree 63’s John Ellis to play guitar for him, or young Cape Town singer Zaki Ibrahim on backing vocals, but the answer seems to be simple: diversity. Bedingfield is clearly a proponent of cultural and national diversity, waxing lyrical about his love for local beer and braais, and scattering the word ‘Africa’ around as an additional seasoning to some of his songs.
Bedingfield moved into the crowd once again to perform ‘Honest Questions’, a song which he wrote aged just 15. Another highlight of his performance, this was an entirely a capella performance, and it seemed for those four minutes that the wind died down, packets of food stopped rustling, and even the children stopped to listen. Nothing could be heard but Bedingfield’s voice, resounding off the mountains, a beautiful moment if ever I‘ve experienced one.
The classic ‘If You’re Not The One’ was given a bit of a reggae twist, which got the crowd dancing and made up for the initial disappointment at not hearing the original. The first half of ‘Gotta Get Thru This’ received the same treatment before Bedingfield changed his mind and started the song again, this time beatboxing an intro before launching into the original to the crowd’s delight.
By the time the encore came around, young and old alike were dancing, singing, clapping and shouting for more. I have no doubt that Daniel Bedingfield’s career in South Africa is far from over.
by Farah Barry
Daniel Bedingfield performed on 25 November 2012 at the first of this season’s Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset Concerts. Full concert series line up here.
See our photos of Daniel Bedingfield at Kirstenbosch on Facebook. Please feel free to tag yourself!