Macstanley front man Andrew Mac echoed the sentiments of the audience crowded onto the concert lawn. Kirstenbosch has a reputation for unpredictable weather, with sudden downpours leaving everything sodden even in the middle of summer. But we were blessed with blue skies and a sporadic breeze to take the edge off the scorching sun – a spectacular setting for melodic rockers Macstanley to lead a perfect afternoon of laidback rock and pop tunes.
Macstanley opened their concert with four songs, including ‘Encore’ – the first single off their most recent album, accompanied by a small string orchestra which lent a special touch to the open-air venue. Special mention must be made of member Robert Jeffrey, who displayed his musical prowess within three songs by playing the cello, the rhythmic guitar, and the keyboard, as well as providing backing vocals – a man of many talents indeed.
Then Macstanley began to introduce their guest artists. Craig Hinds of Watershed, a stalwart of the South African rock scene, was first to take to the stage with tracks from his solo albums, ‘Runaway’ and ‘Ordinary Boy’. The instantly recognisable opening chords of his third song, however, invoked the biggest rush of excitement from the audience. ‘Indigo Girl’ is arguably Watershed’s most famous song. It’s a catchy tune, with exquisitely simple lyrics, and was certainly one of the most memorable moments of the evening. Of course, Hinds wasn’t going to remain alone on stage. Female trio Blackbyrd marched onto the stage armed with guitars and smiles to join him. They launched into their duet, ‘From the Bottom of my Heart’, a rollicking upbeat love song with an American Country feel to it.
Ard Matthews of Just Jinjer – another stalwart – delivered a performance filled with smooth, powerful vocals. The intensely passionate ‘Fire Within’ was one of his best solo offerings. Next up was a song about Ubuntu which Matthews touted as something which would “bring a tear to a glass eye”. Not quite, but it was a lively, heart-warming song, though not one that audiences seemed willing to sing along to, even after prompts by Matthews.
Macstanley returned to the stage to introduce their final special guest: the lovely Elana Afrika-Bredenkamp, looking the epitome of rock chick chic. She joined them to perform their first radio single (released under their former moniker, Flat Stanley). They also had more success at getting audiences to sing along when they performed a cover of the immensely popular ‘Chasing Cars’ by American rockers Snow Patrol.
The biggest surprise of the evening came when Macstanley announced the release of their latest single, ‘Evelyn’ which will launch next week, featuring… us, the audience at Kirstenbosch in the music video. It was undoubtedly the most exciting moment in the evening – adults and kids boogied in front of the stage, with everyone singing loudly along to the chorus in anticipation of singling out themselves in the soundtrack and video.
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. Macstanley ensured that it did so in style, performing their hit single ‘As I Am’ before asking all of their guests to join them for a final song, ‘Sunset Ribbon Red’. It was a fitting end to a beautiful afternoon concert in the gardens.
Macstanley, Craig Hinds and Ard Matthews performed as part of the Old Mutual Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset Concerts on 12 January 2014.