Tight band rocking the house

Ross Tapson, Aaron Saunders and Neil Ford (with drummer Grant Halliday obscured) in a scene from Southern Rock Classics.

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STAGE: Southern Rock Classics

– Rhumbelow Theatre, Cunningham Road, Umbilo, Durban (7pm on March 12 and 13, and 2pm on March14) and Northlands Bowling Club, Durban North (7pm on March 20).
REVIEW BY BILLY SUTER
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IT IS always good to welcome a new addition to the roster of showband productions that travel to the four branches of the Rhumbelow Theatres – and it is a pleasure to report that Southern Rock Classics, featuring the In the Flesh band, that gave us last year’s fine Pink Floyd tribute, does not disappoint.

Having previewed on February 28 at the Pietermaritzburg branch of the Rhumbelow, at the Allan Wilson Shellhole, the show highlights seasoned and accomplished Durban musicians having a great time with a mix of rock that includes both classics and less familiar fare.

Everything from Creedence Clearwater Revival and Grand Funk Railroad to ZZ Top, Tom Petty, The Black Crowes, The Band, Joe Walsh, Stevie Ray Vaughn, John Cougar Mellencamp, The Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd appears on the song list, and the energy and enjoyment of the performers becomes every bit as infectious among the audience.

Southern Rock Classics is of particular note for introducing to Rhumbelow audiences an exciting newcomer to the In the Flesh band, which has long featured the tight team of amiable Ross Tapson on guitar, vocals and hosting duties, Neil Ford on bass and Grant Halliday on drums.

Ross Tapson and Aaron Saunders.

The new member is young Aaron Saunders, who started playing guitar at 13 and was in his first punk band at 15. He has been in metal bands since his late 20s, the last major one being Contrast the Water. His first love, however, is blues and blues-rock and he gets to tackle both, with aplomb, as both a versatile  guitarist and singer, with In the Flesh, which he joined in November.

Incidentally, the band is also soon to also take on an additional vocalist in feisty rocker Yvette Barnard, who spent 12 years working the Barnyard circuit. She has a strong stage presence and a powerful voice – so we can look forward to some interesting shows from the group in the months ahead.

Southern Rock Classics opens with a bang with Grand Funk’s We’re an American Band, and with only occasional throwaway patter, the team delivers a steady flow of memory-makers.Among the crowd favourites are Unfortunate Son, The Weight, I Won’t Back Down, Some Kind of Wonderful, Le Grange, Proud Mary, Tush, Pride and Joy, Have You Ever Seen the Rain? and Crumblin’ Down.

It’s in the largely lesser-known fare, however, that you will discover extra spark and sparkle – among them Saunders’ blues-guitar solos and the band’s covers of Mountain’s Mississippi Queen and Joe Walsh’s Rocky Mountain Way.

If there is any small grumble with this show it is that it is a little too long and would benefit from some pruning of numbers.

NOTE: Southern Rock Classics will be staged at the Umbilo Rhumbelow theatre, Cunningham Road, at 7pm on March 12 and 13, and 2pm on March 14. It will then be staged at the Rhumbelow branch at Northlands Bowling Club, Durban North at 7pm on Saturday, March 20. Audience numbers will be limited, in compliance with lockdown restrictions, and all Covid-19 protocols will be in place. Tickets cost R160 each (no concessions) and booking for all performances is at Computicket or by phoning Roland Stansell at 082 499 8636.

PLEASE MAKE AN EFFORT TO ROUND UP SOME FRIENDS AND SUPPORT THIS SHOW AND THESE STRONG PERFORMERS. ALL THE RHUMBELOW THEATRES FACE THE VERY REAL THREAT OF PERMANENT CLOSURE IF AUDIENCE SUPPORT IS NOT STRONG ENOUGH!


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