Performance Review

hot off the press

“WHAT MAKES A GOOD GIG?”
Written by Iain Mackenzie
FAN BIBLE, FEBRUARY 2012

What started out as a typical Durban summer night, suddenly was atypical as we got down to our evening on Friday at St Clements. The night started with former Tree63 frontman and now solo artist John Ellis playing a few numbers from his new album entitled “Come out Fighting” which is definitely worth hearing.

St Clements is a quaint venue that hosts local artists before an audience seated at tables and dining on their home-cooked-feel menu. Its pretty, its small, its outdoors and its intimate. A few things need to come together for a gig to be a success here. The weather needs to be good, the crowd need to be willing and the artist needs to be able to connect with the audience. In the case of Shannon Hope’s “Farewell Durban” gig, all 3 almost came together – in a little twist of fate the weather decided to play its hand by almost ending what was an exceptional performance by one of South Africa’s finest live performers.

Almost as if rehearsed, mid way through her song “Blue Skies”, and as she sang the line “Blue skies on a cloudy day make me think that anything is possible but things don’t always work out that way, not every time it rains…”

…the rain came down.

It came down just enough to force Shannon off the stage while the audience sat through a brief spurt of drizzle praying for it to ease. Thankfully it did ease, and Shannon was able to return to the stage.

What was to follow was a compelling, emotionally charged and 100 % authentic display of the talent that is Shannon Hope. Shannon lives every one of her songs. If you have listened to just a few lines of any of her tunes you will know that they come from the heart. There is an edge, a raw reality as she sings every line, baring her soul to the audience. Sometimes delicate, sometimes theatrical and sometimes angry, you feel where Shannon is coming from. Combine her fierce yet balanced energy with one of the most magnificent female voices, a melodic piano and a perfect setting and you have a good gig, a great gig.

Toward the end of the set John joined Shannon on stage for a few numbers. John and Shannon have a certain aura about them on stage which is a pleasure to watch. They compliment each other, both hugely respected musicians in their own capacity. They ended the show with a rendition of Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean which had the small packed out venue begging for more. A cover of “Feeling Good” (a song Nina Simone made famous) ended the night. You could tell the crowd was immensely satisfied with what they had just experienced. Shannon is not just a good artist. I think she has the beginnings of greatness and someone that has to be both seen and heard to be appreciated.

The gig for me defined a simple recipe for a successful performance.
The venue wanted the crowd.
The crowd wanted to listen.
And most importantly Shannon was eager to share her songs, and share them she did!

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