Cape Town – a land where the inner-city hipsters judge the quality of a band’s music based on its failure to sell albums, and write off anyone who happens to have a hit on the radio, because really, what kind of mainstream fools even listen to the radio? How then did Prime Circle expect to sell out a venue as large as Grandwest’s Grand Arena? Well – take note, hipsters – if they’ve had so many radio hits, they must have had some fans in the first place, right? The answer is yes – they had a whole arena full.
The Grand Arena has in the past played host to international bands including The Script, Daughtry and Nickelback, with The Fray and 30 Seconds to Mars both scheduled for later this year, but this was the first time I had experienced it with the golden circle and general admission areas filled with chairs. I must say, it was a welcome sight. With tonight’s concert attracting a large number of the older crowd, as well as parents with children, seating everyone made for a less tiring evening, but did not stop the fans from jumping up and leaving their seats long forgotten by the second song of the night.
Opening act Jesse Clegg was treat for many of the audience members. Playing slowed down acoustic versions of five of his song, ‘Heartbreak Street’ in particular contained enough familiar lyrics to transport one back in time to 2008, when it was a firm radio favourite.
A mind-blowingly quick changeover, thanks to the help of a giant curtain hiding all of Prime Circle’s gear, and within seconds they burst onto stage. Now, I’d need both hands and possibly a foot to count the amount of times I’ve seen Prime Circle before – but never quite like this.
Instantly, the stage was lit up in all colours of the rainbow, with dancing lights and background screens emphasizing each song. It’s impossible to reconcile this band on stage tonight with the band that so often plays on outside stages at the likes of the Kirstenbosch Summer Concerts. Tonight, they’re just as international as any of those bands that have been here before.
Brand new single ‘Gone’ goes down a storm as the second song of the evening, but of course we are treated to some of the old classics as well, including ‘Hello’ and ‘As Long as I Am Here’ from their first album, way back in 2002. And yes, everyone does still remember the words to both songs.
With the front rows having left their seats long ago, Prime Circle proceeded to cover their fans in sparkly gold ribbons, which shot from the confetti cannons, high into the air and elicited many ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’.
‘Out of This Place’ and ‘Breathing’ – two of my personal favourites – and were also performed impeccably, but the biggest singalong of the night was, without a doubt, ‘She Always Gets What She Wants’. Frontman Ross Learmonth (still, somehow, with that hint of a Scottish accent, although he left the country when he was two months old) dedicated the song to all the ladies in honour of Women’s Day, and grinned broadly as the voices of the crowd overpowered his own.
Closing with ‘Consider Me’, the show was absolutely fantastic. Ending in a shower of confetti, Prime Circle set the bar high for live performances, and other local bands should take note. An absolutely professional production, it is no wonder that the band have had successful European tours with bands including 3 Doors Down.
As a side note, there are several ways in which one can describe GrandWest Casino on a Saturday night: the tourist brochures will certainly call it ‘a hive of activity’, but I prefer ‘hell on earth’. Don’t arrive at 7pm for an 8pm show, expecting to ‘just grab dinner when you get there’. What you’ll be doing is entering a fierce battle with several teens on dates, and perhaps a crying 3-year-old before you get near the front of the line for any kind of food. In fact, I’d advise to sneak in the back entrance near the arena, and skip the rest altogether.
Prime Circle performed at the Grand Arena, Grandwest on 9 August 2014.