In mellow mode with Rodriguez

Durban band The Reals. From left are Jason Andrew, Barry Thomson, Dawn Selby and Mali Sewell.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
Stage: The Reals Present Cold Fact: A Tribute to Rodriguez – Rhumbelow Theatre, Tina’s Hotel, Beryldene Road, Kloof
REVIEW BY BILLY SUTER
……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

THIS week marked my third time in as many years seeing this excellent tribute to the music and memories of the man who gave us the classic hits I Wonder and Sugarman.

He, of course, is the now 76-year-old, Detroit-based music phenomenon, Rodriguez, who wowed South Africans and Australians in the early 1970s but, until the 2012 Oscar-winning Seaching For Sugarman documentary of his life, remained virtually unknown in the rest of the world.

First staged by popular Durban tribute band The Reals five years ago, the show is being revived again until Sunday only, as part of the versatile group’s mini festival of shows at the Rhumbelow Theatre at Tina’s Hotel in Kloof.

With vocalist and lead and acoustic guitarist Barry Thomson centre-stage, backed by bassist Jason Andrew and drummer Mali Sewell, both of whom also share lead vocals, the production is held together by keyboard ace and musical director Dawn Selby.

An informal, slick presentation in which the team gets into a more mellow mood with music that Barry describes as melancholic but soothing, the show has brief spurts of casual narration, more facts really, nodding to the Rodriguez story. It also makes use of snippets from a Rodriguez interview from Searching For Sugarman.

For the most part, though, it is the music that does all the talking – and what great music it is, classic songs that I and many other South Africans grew up with in our teens.

In the early ’70s the albums to have in my neck of the woods included Rodriguez’s 1970 debut, Cold Fact, containing Sugarman and I Wonder.

Highlighting songs from that album and also the 1971 follow-up, After the Fact (known else in the world as Coming From Reality), the show opens with Barry performing Inner City Blues and Rich Folks Hoax.

Mali, whose voice sounds the most like Rodriguez in this show, then takes lead vocals on Crucify Your Mind before Barry handles Like Janis and Jason takes lead vocals on Hate Street Dialogue.

The first half also offers Mali performing Jane S Piddy, Jason on lead vocals for Heikki’s Suburban Bus Tour and Barry with a great delivery of the plaintive Sandrevan Lullaby, with its wonderful guitar intro and Dawn providing the orchestral sweep. The first half closes with the amusing A Most Disgusting Song.

Second-half songs include Halfway Up the Stairs, I’ll Slip Away, Cause, Silver Words, Only Good For Conversation, Climb Up on My Music and Establishment Blues, with I Wonder, Sugarman and Forget It kept for later in the programme.

Final evening performances of the show are at 8pm today, tomorrow and Saturday (August 23 to 25). A 2pm matinee is scheduled for Sunday, August 26. Tickets cost R150 (R130 for pensioners) and booking is at Computicket or by calling Roland at 082 499 8636.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s