Why go out for a night on the town in winter? On Thursday and Friday last week, Aces ‘n’ Spades – a new bar lounge at 62 Hout Street – had the answer.
Aces ‘n’ Spades is an unexpectedly intimate and comfortable setting; the perfect atmosphere for The Ard Matthews Affair album launch. Outside, red and pink neon lights in the shapes of an ace, a spade, a skull and a martini glass decorate the front window, and a short red carpet at the entrance makes every patron feel like royalty.
A short flight of stairs leads into a retro-bar-lounge with a chequered floor and a wooden crescent-shaped bar. Beneath a wall decorated with alluring black and white pictures, low seating is complemented by wine barrels to use as tables. The ‘treasure-chest-equipment-boxes’ tables beside the booth seats were a personal favourite. This could very well be the Mother City’s next trending bar-lounge.
Ard Matthews, former lead singer of the recently-dispersed Just Jinjer, introduced his solo album First Offerings, to a great reception from the audience. Earlier in the week Matthews, in an interview on Two Oceans Vibe Radio, had described the album as “like a journal of my personal experiences with the original Just Jinjer band members as we began to move off in our different directions”. He made it quite clear however that there is no bad blood between the former band members.
Thursday night was Ard’s first gig in Cape Town as the lead of the newly formed trio The Ard Matthews Affair, with Matthews on lead guitar and vocals, and supported by Josh Klynsmith (Gangs of Ballet) on drums and John Ellis (Tree 63) on bass guitar. Matthews took a moment to reflect on future prospects saying, with customary humour, “We’re gonna play some new stuff, then you’ll all go home, learn the words to each chorus and the next time we’ll all be like ‘Kumbaya my Lord’.” The lounge boasted immaculate acoustics and Ard was not afraid to let out his melodic roar.
Mark Fortuin, an avid fan of Just Jinjer and of Ard Matthews in particular commented, “I liked the Just Jinjer sound coming through, but to hear something on a more personal level from Ard Matthews is refreshing and very enjoyable. One Day my Lover and Bolder were definitely amongst the crowd favourites.” And looking at the crowd, he was definitely not alone in those sentiments.
Towards the end of the evening, the trio expressed their gratitude to the audience and were answered with an almost unanimous call for an encore. The band’s cover of the well known hit song ‘Sugarman’ was well received by the former Just Jinjer fans who were longing for a singalong and was a great introduction to their closing number, ‘Time over Wine’. We didn’t need an excuse to linger a bit longer.
A sincere thank you to Aces ‘n Spades for inviting us to this highly anticipated event, and of course, to the engaging, playful and charismatic Ard Matthews.
Ard Matthews performed at Aces ‘n’ Spades on 23 and 24 August 2012.