STAGE: Feel the Difference: The Yazoo Show – Rhumbelow Theatre, Umbilo, Durban
– Performances at 7.30pm Fridays and Saturdays (August 12, 13, 19 and 20) and 2pm on Sundays August 14 and 21).
REVIEW BY BILLY SUTER
DURBAN’S Rhumbelow Theatre in Umbilo is offering something stylish, exciting and somewhat innovative for its latest musical tribute – and even if it doesn’t seem like your cup of tea, I’d highly recommended you take a chance on experiencing something a little different for this venue. I was among the majority at last night’s preview who absolutely loved it!
It may seem like a show geared for a niche market, considering the more goldie-oldie musical tributes this venue tends to highlight, but Durban performer and show creator Colin Peddie – who co-devised The Reals band’s excellent Fleetwood Mac tribute as well as The Real’s recent salute to love songs; Love Will Tear is Apart – has come up with a quite mesmerising production that deserves support and success.
A loving, cleverly conceived nod to ’80s British synth-pop duo Yazoo, which had former Depeche Mode songwriter and computer fundi Vince Clarke alongside low-voiced, soulful belter Alison Moyet, the show will certainly thoroughly delight Yazoo fans.
Peddie has poured a lot of time, energy and talent into a slick production that has an exciting, vibey concert feel while retaining a certain elegance. It saw last night’s highly appreciate preview audience dancing at their tables and whooping for more.
Versatile Marion Loudon also stars, excelling by channelling her lowest voice register for most lead vocals. Peddie performs occasional vocals and drums and masterfully delivers the trademark, still-cool Yazoo computerised elements which he programmed himself.
Additionally, Peddie sourced and carefully edited several dance videos – either balletic or contemporary, some even underwater or performed in fluorescence – which add enormously to the experience. These brilliant visuals play out on five TV screens of varying size, placed at different heights on and alongside the stage.
It’s the music, though, that most shines – an intoxicating blend of cold electronics and soulful emotion, sometimes gloriously upbeat, often haunting. The experience is embellished by fine lighting design, by turns moody and flashy, from Michael Taylor-Broderick, as well as some excellent sound control by Andre Norden.
Yazoo released only two albums and a few hit singles in its 18 months of existence, but went on to be quite a big influence on many future acts, among them Shiny Toy Guns, Hercules, LCD Soundsystem, Blaqk Audio, Love Affair and La Roux.
After Yazoo, Clarke went on to form the even more successful Erasure with Andy Bell, while Moyet went solo to release a string of hits. Fitting, then, that this show also salutes those projects – Colin’s second-half nod to Erasure, Oh Lamour, being quite a surprise and his costume a bit of a giggle.
We also get Loudon handling some drumming and a bit of keyboards and, in red gown, she acknowledges Moyet’s solo years with the catchy 1987 success, Is This Love?. Also of note is the infectious Just Can’t Get Enough, with Peddie on lead vocals, which pops up as a fun tribute to early Depeche Mode in the show’s first half.
But it’s Yazoo that rules, most of the songs from the duo’s two albums, Upstairs At Eric’s and You and Me Both, getting an airing. Also here, of course, are Only You (the debut single from March 1982 which later became an a cappela hit for The Flying Pickets), the pounding dance favourites Situation and Don’t Go, and the duo’s biggest US success, Nobody’s Diary. Also a high point is a pulsing delivery of Bring Your Love Down towards the end of the show, which got many dancing.
Winter Kills, a plaintive song long noted for Moyet’s fine vocal, suffered a little in this show with Loudon’s vocal drowned by music over-amplification on preview night. Another small moan is that Loudon tends to read much of the show’s brief narration, which is a little jarring. But these little flaws aside, this is a mighty fine show that is well worth the R180 ticket price.
Feel the Difference: The Yazoo Show officially opens at 7.30pm tonight (August 12) at the Umbilo Rhumbelow Theatre at the end of Cunningham Road, off Bartle Road.
Seating is at tables and one may take along a picnic basket of food, although light meals can be bought at the theatre. Note that all beverages have to be bought at the venue’s pub, which has drinks at very reasonable prices.
Final performances will be at 7.30pm tomorrow (August 13), 2pm on Sunday (August 14) and at the same times next Friday to Sunday.
Book at Computicket or contact theatre manager Roland Stansell at 082 499 8636.