I remember the first time I heard Plush. My twelve-year-old-self had been scrolling through my sister’s iPod searching for a South African artist to be the subject of a school project.
Upon hearing the opening chords to ‘Today’ I was sold. The fact that the band came from my hometown, Cape Town, was a plus. Fast forward seven years and, although I am no longer in junior school, my love for the band remains. Because of this, when I heard that Plush would be playing a show at Assembly as part of their farewell tour, I knew I had to go.
Standing in the line, I immediately noticed that the crowd was decidedly older than the usual masses that frequent Assembly on a Friday night. I believe this to be indicative of the legacy Plush has managed to create over the years by being able to reach such a varied audience. As I walked up the Assembly stairs I felt that same anticipation that I had experienced in 2009 when I attended my first Plush gig. I had forced my parents to take me to Knysna to watch the band live. This was the birth of my passion for watching live music as it was the first time that I had experienced the peace I feel in being completely at home in front of the stage.
It was only when frontman Rory Eliot said, “I hope you’re feeling calmer than me” that I was hit with the full nostalgia that I was actually watching Plush again. My fear that the band would only play their newer material quickly waned when I heard Eliot picking the intricate opening of ‘Damn the Fire’.
The set was as emotional as they come. Eliot frequently made reference to the fact that the band was struggling to imagine what their lives would be like without Plush. The sentimental feeling reached an all-time high when he spoke about band member Chas Smit who had been killed in a tragic drunk driving accident years earlier. The emotion that filled the air was reciprocal as I kept hearing people commenting that they could not believe this was really the end for this band. The crowd responded so well to Eliot that he hardly needed to sing the choruses of ‘Wishing Well’ and ‘Tainted’. I was also pleased to hear the inclusion of the technically challenging ‘Able’ in their set.
Plush’s full music evolution was portrayed through the playing of one of their oldest songs, ‘Postcard’ followed by a newer track, ‘All for the Better’, and then a brand new track, ‘Springsteen’, in succession. I enjoyed all of these songs despite a few minor sound issues. When the band played ‘Ta Ta Jozi Ta Ta’ I appreciated how relevant the band’s lyrics have always been to me. At one time, I could relate to the song’s idea of moving homes when my family relocated from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth. I can now relate to the song once again having just moved back to Cape Town.
Eliot’s voice become inaudible over the crowd’s screaming pleas for the performance of ‘Halo’. When the band left the stage without playing the song I felt genuinely disappointed. ‘Halo’ has always been special to me it as it was the first song I ever played on guitar in front of an audience. When the band returned to stage to play it I was nearly brought to tears. The set ended with a mesmerizing rendition of the classic, ‘Jetlife’ which has always showcased the true skill this band has to offer. Plush were gracious throughout their set, thanking the crowd for the years of support, saying that they would like to meet everyone after the show.
I can honestly say that the two hours of pure musical bliss Plush supplied on Friday night, provided a true testament to their musical legacy. I am still struggling to believe that I will never see Eliot’s crazed look in his eyes as he performs some of the songs that provided me with so much solace during my turbulent teenage years. Many things have changed over the years, but Plush’s inspirational ability has not. The first time I heard Plush they inspired a new way of thinking about music within me. On Friday night they managed to do my high expectations justice, as they inspired me to pick up my guitar once again.