Review: The Parlotones Raise Dampened Spirits at Kirstenbosch

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the parlotones“You are the most loyal crowd to stand in the rain.”

Only in Cape Town can one experience a wet winter’s day in the heart of summer. It didn’t rain during the concert, but the ground was sodden (as were my clothes) from a downpour earlier in the afternoon. So when Kahn Morbee, lead singer of the Parlotones, made his appreciation known, a flash of pride ran through the shivering crowd as we huddled on our picnic blankets – ineffectual barriers against the dampness of the lush Kirstenbosch grass.

The Parlotones may have recently made the big move to Los Angeles to better break into the American market, but in South Africa they have already achieved multi-platinum status, and so it wasn’t a surprise that tickets for the concert quickly sold out, and that the Parlotones’ many die-hard fans were not to be put off by a little inclement weather.

‘Push Me to the Floor’ was the opening number as the Parlotones emerged, all dressed in red pants and white t-shirts. And it was clear, by many an audience member singing along in delight, that it was a crowd favourite. A few songs into the concert however, the crowd became subdued. In warmer weather the hypnotic and slower opening tracks may have suited the laidback Kirstenbosch crowd, but in the damp and cold they provoked a distinctly sluggish mood.

A few guest artists were set to perform alongside the Parlotones  –  though unfortunately  rapper Khuli Chana was not able to make it. The biggest surprise was singer and rapper Yolandi. Her quirky gothic style and interpretation was in stark contrast to the Parlotones’ alternative, smooth feel.  Nonetheless, her performances are always interesting.

Morbee then introduced the Canadian-born singer, songwriter and blues queen Natasha Meister. At only 21 years of age, Meister is enormously talented. Her beautiful, deep voice entwined perfectly with Morbee’s as the band performed a mesmerising melody, ‘Stardust Galaxies’.  It was at this moment that the crowd came back to life, and the cold was beaten back by the palpable warmth, excitement and appreciation for the level of talent we had just witnessed.

Right at the end of the concert, Morbee asked the audience to stand. Neil Pauw opened ‘Life Design’ spectacularly on the drums, and the crowd grooved, sang and danced to one of the more up-tempo tracks. A true testament of an artist is surely their ability to perform live well, with their live songs being as good as – if not better than – the recorded versions. ‘Life Design’ was a case in point, and a wonderful end to the hour and a half long concert.  Although we had started out with dripping clothes and goosebumps, we left with warm hearts and goosebumps of a different kind.

Kristan Wood

The Parlotones performed at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens on 5 January as part of the Old Mutual Kirstenbosch Summer Concerts.

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