Feature Opinion

In Review: LIVE At Grand Arena In Cape Town

17 years after their first performance in The Mother City, LIVE return to headline a sold out night at Grand West Arena. And sweet lawd are the Cape Town rockers in the audience ready to roll.

During my ritual pre-performance pit stop at Spur I make friends with married couple Jessica and Doug, who’ve conned the waitress into serving them first even though they’re not fucking sitting at Spur. Oh no, they’re ordering from over the wall. God bless the ‘burbs.

Francois Van Coke and RAMfest’s David Fourie pass with their respective spouses, clearly on date night, to the tune of The Sweet Resistance’s cover of ‘Radioactive’. I overestimate the speed of our waitress while simultaneously underestimating the length of SW’s set and end up missing most of it.

Jessica and Doug bid me farewell, plastic beer cups clasped in each claw, as the lights go dark and the roar of 6000 people signal LIVE’s start. Two lines into ‘All Over You’ and the crowd is frothing. The last time I saw a crowd this responsive was Pixies. What is it with okes who peaked in the ‘90s? What were they smoking? I’m 30 and I’m pretty much ready for bed.

Ed Kowalczyk picks up an acoustic as Chad Gracey (drums) lays down the opening few shakes of ‘Pain Lies On the Riverside’. There’s another drum kit manned by Adam Diaz to the left of Chad – BECAUSE GODDAMIT THIS IS REAL ROCK ‘N’ ROLL – that adds a welcome support dynamic and aids in multiplying the force of percussion. Over on stage right, the bass line is heavy and funky and undeniable as Patrick Dahlheimer carries this track on his back with a Flea-like slap.

The insertion of ‘Dolphins Cry’ so early into the set is surprising but welcome and my phone can’t handle the 100 incoming dolphin emojis from Laura who’s somewhere in the photographers’ pit. It’s the first opportunity for guitarist Chad Taylor to step into the spotlight, supplying a few flourishing moments on his amber-coloured Les Paul.

Ed pauses momentarily to address us, ‘We took a little break and I can’t remember what the fuck happened but we’re back now.” Pure poetry. The okes around me thrust their warm drinks into the air as Ed confesses how great it is to back onstage with his brothers. At least they’re not suing each other anymore.

‘Selling The Drama’ is followed by a strangely placed cover of Johnny Cash’s ‘Walk The Line’ but I keep getting distracted by Ed’s immaculately sculpted triceps every time he throws his arms into the air. Have you seen the man lately? He’s like a fine wine.

The backdrop changes to one that depicts scenes of massive air pollution during ‘Pillar Of Davidson’ after which Ed commands us to shake our money makers (if I have to) before launching into ‘The Distance’.

They peak at ‘I Alone’, with the track’s soft-loud signature taking us for a leisurely stroll down ‘90s alt-rock avenue, while encores ‘Heaven’ and ‘Turn My Head’ take a mighty tug on my ol’ heartstrings. But it’s their tribute to the late Chris Cornell with a rendition of Audioslave’s ‘I Am The Highway’ that really hits home, a huge picture of Cornell projected onto the screen for its duration. No dry eyes this side.

During my second year at UCT, I worked at a little bar on Kloof Street where my boss would play “Throwing Copper” at least twice during any given shift. He was a nutter. He died last year and since ‘Lighting Crashes’ was always going to be a bit of a tough one for me to stomach, I skipped out early to avoid any more tears and traffic.

When Andy Mac welcomed us earlier that evening he told us that he started AMP Events because nobody was bringing rock bands to the country anymore. And while rock is definitely not a mainstream staple at present, that doesn’t mean there’s not a demand for it. LIVE’s sold out tour is proof of that. Get ready Pretoria.

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Check out our exclusive gallery from this event.