The Parklife acoustic music Festival debuted in Joburg on March 21 and in Cape Town on the following day, at the one-of-a-kind and always gorgeous Kirstenbosch Gardens, where Jeremy Loops and Farryl Purkiss played the sunset opening slots in support of Australian headliner Xavier Rudd.
Unlike those who were able to capitalise on Thursday’s public holiday for a long weekend, I had work on Friday and left later to avoid traffic, so I missed out on a relaxing afternoon in the gardens but luckily arrived just in time for the start of the show.
Both opening sets were short (due I assume to Kirstenbosch’s strict ending time regulations) which made Jeremy Loops‘ feel especially frantic. This is a guy that pulls a crowd (a formidable one) every time. The walkway in front of the stage became a seething mass of fans in no time, and if you didn’t know any better you’d be forgiven for thinking that the international headliner was incidental, and the main attraction was Jeremy Loops and two of the usual suspects – Jamie Faull on sax and emcee Motheo Moleko.
The frantic pace of the opening acts made the lull that followed before the headliner feel especially long, but it was interesting watching the stage crew unveil Xavier Rudd’s setup. I’m a fan of John Butler, and have been told that since I like him I might like Xavier Rudd…so I was familiar with him in theory but didn’t actually know his music. I was expecting him to be another guitarist singer-songwriter, so the large drum, chime and multi-didgeridoo setup had me intrigued.
Then the man himself, barefoot and wearing a woven headband, beaded necklace and bracelet and and spiritual tattoos, came out onto the stage and greeted the cheering crowd with an Asian-style bow, before taking his seat behind his didgeridoos and drums. If hippies had a pope Xavier Rudd would be a great candidate.
From his image to his music, it’s obvious the man is very spiritual; his music includes themes about and based on the Aboriginal people of his Australian homeland and features traditional instruments used together in an interesting way. Some songs were quite standard guitar-and-vocals kinda numbers, but some were more experimental and, at one point, even dangerously close to trance music.
I must confess that while I enjoyed some of it I’m not a huge fan of the music but it’s always great to see a world-class performer; he put on a great show.
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