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Review: Karen Zoid’s ‘Under the Covers’ is Unforgettable


Karen Zoid Under the CoversKaren Zoid and her team could not have chosen a more suitable venue to stage her new show, ‘Under the Covers’. The Theatre on the Bay is perfect for this intimate unplugged performance which allows the audience to get up close and personal with this amazing artist.

I also could not have asked for a more apt introduction to this SAMA award-winning singer-songwriter. For many years now Karen Zoid has been a commanding voice in both English and Afrikaans circles both nationally and internationally. And she’s particularly acclaimed for presenting memorable and poignant live shows. My curiosity was as high as my expectations as I took my seat on Tuesday evening.

In ‘Under the Covers’, Zoid presents unplugged versions of songs and classics that have influenced her since childhood and throughout her music career. In her own words, the show is her chance to pay tribute to “songs I wish I had written myself”. The diverse playlist ranges from Lady Gaga to Queen, from The Beatles to Beethoven, and from South African icon Miriam Makeba to German synthpop duo Modern Talking. Hits such ‘Paradise Road’, ‘Imagine’ and ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ all featured.

The turnout was great; the Camps Bay theatre was packed in testimony to Karen’s huge following. And the minute she stepped on stage, she received a warm, enthusiastic welcome. Ever down-to-earth, she wasted little time but sat down, reached for her acoustic guitar, and started strumming a soulful tune.

Joining her on stage for this show is Hennie Steel on acoustic and electric guitar and backing vocals. If there’s such a thing as musical match made in heaven, these two would fit that description. As Zoid showed when she shared the stage with the great Vusi Mahlasela, she has an extraordinary ability to synergize with other musicians, and it’s a beautiful energy to experience. Zoid’s creamy, powerful and soul-piercing voice combines perfectly with the guitar – taking the audience on a musical journey, from soulful rock, to blues and smooth ballads.

The show is further enhanced by Karen’s collaboration with a capella group The African Voices Ensemble.  Comprised of music students from UCT and other institutions, the group previously performed with Josh Groban on his Straight to You tour. Karen joked that since they begged her to feature them on her show, she would not be paying them and so members of the audience must please buy them drinks after the show.

This collaboration with The African Voices Ensemble adds another interesting dimension to the show, and stretches the received wisdom on the best genre for a cappella. Theatregoers were up on their feet singing and tapping their feet to the unlikely combination of Zoid and The African Voices Ensemble singing ‘I’m bringing Sexy Back’. They then went on to mesmerise the audience with a medley of Johnny Clegg’s, ‘Asimbonanga’ and Mango Groove’s ‘Moments Away’.

Karen Zoid oozes versatility and star power. At the same time she’s engaging and funny and authentic and she knows how to connect with her audience. True to Zoid’s reputation, this is an emotionally- charged and unforgettable performance which will win her new fans, just as it did with me.

Luvuyo Mncanca

Karen Zoid’s Under The Covers runs 27 November to 1 December 2012 at the Theatre on The Bay in Camps Bay.


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