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In Review: Ann Jangle at Cafe Roux

A homely, heartfelt performance with a firm middle finger to The Man.

18 May 2017 / Opinion / written by Tecla Ciolfi / Pics by Laura McCullagh

I arrive at Café Roux a bit later than normal, but while the audience is ready and waiting, Ann Jangle seems to be taking her sweet time.

I climb to the upper level and cosy myself in the corner, ordering my first drink for the week which when it comes, it lasts all of 2 minutes.

When Jangle finally decides to take the stage, she’s joined by Jess Van Der Merwe on saxophone and Basson Laubscher on guitar. The formidable trio cut a fine figure onstage as Jangle explains that she normally plays with a drummer too, however he’s in Berlin.

It’s at this point that Jangle morphs, center-stage, into an enchanting storyteller. Everyone’s hooked. She’s talking about her time in Berlin and how on the coldest day in the city, homesick as all hell, she wrote a song that was inspired by Miriam Makeba’s ‘Qongqothwane (The Click Song)’. The incorporation of Makeba’s chorus in Jangle’s homage to home is endearing.

The dark gypsy-rooted melody that underpins her stripped down version of ‘Ain’t It A Good Day For Sarcasm’ lends a creepy, unsettling air to the track which intrigues me even more. The more intense the song becomes the more Jangle flexes her powerful voice, one that she controls with a great degree of strength. She can go from an all-out boom, to a high-pitched howl in the same breath.

She breaks suddenly to introduce her band. First up, Basson, who apparently loves guitar so much he would “Play in the middle of Nigeria for a packet of Nik Naks.” Clearly Jangle’s has more Jagermeister than she’s letting on. Next up, Jess, who just graduated from music school, and stands strong on the stage as a multi-instrumentalist, switching between sax, accordion and keys.

A bluesy rendition of ‘Jesus Gonna Be Here’ provides Jangle with the perfect opportunity to detail her love of Tom Waits. It’s a love like no other let me tell you. An elderly man at the bar claps his hands and stomps his feet in approval.

I’m on my third gin with Jangle starts talking about how she was never cut out for the 9 to 5. I clap and stomp in approval. “You don’t need to make some another asshole rich,” she shrugs. Jangle brings it back home in a cutesy story about her mother, in the lead-up to Mother’s Day on Sunday. I spot her mother in the audience from a mile away. She’s got the same wild mop of blonde hair. Mamma Jangle is on her feet during ‘Oh Mi Madre’ were Jangle does some insane runs towards the end. While the recording of this track falls a bit flat, the live version is spectacular.

Jess takes a little break and falls to the back, sipping on a glass of red and watching Basson solo the hell outta a blues-rooted track. Basson’s skill is second to none. Like a blues great, he’s way too cool for the stage and doesn’t break a sweat, decked in a velvet jacket.

Two more covers. Another Waits, this time ‘Chocolate Jesus’ and then Vera Hall’s ‘Trouble So Hard’ which gets a few people up on their feet in applause.

“Life kicks you down and sometimes, something beautiful comes out of it,” Jangle says, explaining to us that at one point, during a really long European tour where everything went wrong, she decided to quit music.

“That was a year-and-a-half ago and I thought it would be my last. But I’m still going strong.”

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Check out our exclusive gallery from this event.