Beat Speak, 14th March 1998
by Sugar (see Beatspeak archive
for original review)
It's hard to type when one's feet refuse to stay
on the ground. I still keep floating around from the euphoria of seeing
two awe-inspiring concerts on the weekend, both by the same ou. I'm talking
of course about Rodriguez who finally performed to his many South African
fans and it's difficult to decide who was more overawed by the confrontation.
Rodriguez had not performed since 1981 and even
those concerts, in Australasia, did not nearly attract the same fans as
the SA concerts, so, when Rodriguez walked out onto the stage at the Bellville
Velodrome, he almost staggered backwards from the roar and vibes that poured
onto the stage from the first night crowd. The performance that Friday
night was fine if a little patchy but no-one seemed to notice. Rodriguez
forgot the odd line and on a few occasions played at a different tempo
to the band, who very professionally managed to plaster over these musical
Rodriguez, Sugar and his family and Eva
The second concert on Saturday night, however,
was wonderful. A far larger crowd arrived due obviously to a strong local
word-of-mouth promotion. Rodriguez and his band were prepared and well-rehearsed
and once again the crowd maintained a remarkable level of energetic approval
and non-stop singing to each and every song. All the age groups were represented,
from 60-year-olds to young children, all caught up in the magic of the
moment, signifying indisputably that Rodriguez's music has passed the test
of time and is not simply a '70s phenomenon.
The response to these concerts was repeated throughout the tour. The two
concerts in Johannesburg at the Standard Bank Arena were sold out and generated
the same fanatical and ecstatic reaction. One of the Durban dates was replaced
by a show at the Carousel complex outside Pretoria and that too was full.
There is a strong feeling that this remarkable tour could be the spark
that hopefully kick-starts Rodriguez's long overdue world-wide recognition.
Through the Internet, his fans all over the world have been closely monitoring
these events in South Africa and requests for tours have been received
from as far afield as Australia, Canada, England and the USA. Some United
States newspapers have already started making enquiries, sensing a story
in all of this!
Rodriguez is a humble, intelligent and sensitive
man who deserves all the recognition he will no doubt be receiving. After
both the Cape Town shows, he mingled with the assorted press and fans who
had lingered backstage to meet him and shook hands, hugged, spoke to and
signed autographs for each and every one of them until he was satisfied
that no-one had been overlooked. As they say in Yiddish, he is really a
I am still quite overwhelmed by the whole Rodriguez
situation. We all believed he was dead but he most certainly wasn't and
here he was recreating his music that meant so much to so many people for
so long. I will always remember singing along to all those songs that are
so deeply embedded in my/our memories, but three special memories stand
out for me. The first was seeing Rodriguez's two daughters, Eva and Regan,
sitting at the foot of the stage watching their father perform. Eva was
a teenager when Rodriguez toured Australia and Regan was much younger.
The pride and joy that radiated in their faces was quite beautiful.
The second was the guitar solo by Willem Möller
that turned the band's jammed improvised version of 'Climb Up On My Music'
into the high(est)light of a concert packed with highlights. The third
image I have is of Arno Carstens, lead singer with the Springbok Nude Girls,
standing transfixed at the base of the stage watching Rodriguez perform.
On his T-shirt was the simple yet ironic slogan that seemed to sum up the
whole evening. It read: "Dead people are cool!"