Review: Trenton and Free Radical

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The opening act on this Thursday evening, Londi Gomedze & Friends, infused the intimate atmosphere of the small theatre in the back of Obz Cafe with soft melodies and the smoky voice of the singer, who made the crisp melodies of her ukulele stand out from the blues-like background of guitar and bass. They were noticeably nervous but gained a lot of applause for their performance.

Then Crimson House Blues took to the stage and it was immediately clear that these guys knew where they wanted to go and exactly how to get there. They fired off an almost metal-influenced blues with a singer who stunned the crowd with a voice that, with your eyes closed, could have belonged to Mr. Joe Cocker himself.  Even with your eyes open you would have never guessed the power emanating from the mouth of this short, bespectacled, bearded guy.  The atmosphere quickly heated up and  when the guitarist whipped out a Banjo and pulled off a solo in true wild-west style, the crowd – mostly young students, a few dreadheads and a handful of the ‘more mature’ – went wild.

The conditions could not have been better for the headliner of the night – Trenton and Free Radical. After the affable frontman, Trenton Birch, as usual asked everybody to move a step closer to the minimalistic stage, the band presented their wide range of sounds: from tunes that had everyone dancing, to songs that had audience members put their arms around each other, swaying with lighters held aloft.

Most of the songs on the set list came from the band’s latest album (released in March this year) and all of them were more than well-received by the audience.  The composite of electro and hiphop-influenced reggae provided a pleasant contrast to the swift chords of their supporting act. Bass player Thabo Mobo in particular underlined the performance with a smooth bassline to which you just could not keep your legs still.

The band quickly established a bond to the crowd and tightened it when they asked everybody to come on stage to pose with the artists for a quick photo.

This summer is the last chance for a while to catch Trenton and Free Radical in a live show in South Africa, as they plan to tour through Europe in 2013, playing shows in the UK and Germany. Before then though, we can look forward to another gig in Obz Cafe next Thursday and at the Rocking the Daisies Festival  in October.

by Florian Suess

Trenton and Free Radical and Crimson House Blues performed at the Obz Café on 20 September 2012.

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