I’m sitting at home with a decidedly stiff neck and absolutely no voice, reminiscing about just how incredible the fourth annual instalment of Blood Brothers in Pretoria was.
After all, it’s not every day that you get artists of that calibre performing together in a three hour rock showcase, swapping out members and creating extraordinary collaborations in the process.
From the get go this show promised a line-up that was nothing short of legendary – a gathering of some of the country’s most formidable rockers, fresh from a Cape Town show that looked pretty insane.
The highveld leg of the show took place at a venue in Centurion called Platteland. Platteland has a distinct local feel to it and is basically a giant barnyard with a ceiling full of LED lights. I also spied a poster that said something along the lines of “Friends drink beer, Brothers drink brandy” – Pretoria amirite?
Hellcats were on top form as they opened the evening, their energetic set laying the foundation for what was to be an outrageously epic night, with tequila being consumed at an alarming rate and a lot of people appearing to be cautiously lining their stomachs with Pringles.
The main event saw 11 of South African’s top rock ‘n’ rollers and musicians come together – a melting pot of old favourites and new talent – to perform some of their most beloved rock anthems alongside some of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll songs of all time.
Some of the highlights of the night include an exceptional, albeit unexpected performance of Coolio’s ‘Gangster’s Paradise’ from Adelle Nqeto, who’s powerful vocals captivated everyone (and my heart); while Hanu de Jong’s electric cover of Rob Zombie’s ‘Dragula’ hailed a sudden and unexpected change to a heavier aesthetic which saw the crowd descend into an absolute frenzy and may or may not be the cause of my stiff neck.
No one can get a Pretoria crowd going quite like Francois van Coke and true to form he had everyone singing along as he rocked out to ‘Ek Skyn (Heilig)’. Things just kept getting better with Alessandro Benigno covering Queens of the Stone Age’s ‘No One Knows’ and Ard Matthews treating us to a Just Jinjer rendition of the iconic ‘Sugar Man’.
But it was bassist Chris van der Walt who steered the evening’s ship, captain of the Blood Brothers, commanding attention as he jumped across the stage for the entire duration of the show, rocking manic solos and even juggling his bass high up in the air at one point.
Each musician brought their own distinct style but performed together so cohesively that its incomprehensible to think that they only rehearsed for a handful of hours together.
We finally saw everyone together on stage as they performed ‘You’re Always On My Mind’, a song which was written especially for the event by lauded wordsmith Hunter Kennedy. Predictably, the show cumulated in a spate of ridiculousness during the final performance of ‘A Whole Lotta Love’, which saw everything descend into chaos on stage – the perfect finale for a fantastic night.
A massive congratulations must go to all the artists who made up this year’s Blood Brothers, you were a formidable team. And to the organisers, thank you for putting together such an engaging event in aid of the Vrede Foundation. Keep on fighting the good fight!