What do you get when you put a 65-piece symphonic orchestra, 12 of SA’s leading bands and Heineken together? A remarkable three-hour, cross-genre live music show, which was a feast for any music lover’s ears.
I must admit that my initial reaction to the thought of being subjected to a mixture of genres (classical and rock no less!), was one of horror. So when I was given the chance to review the Heineken Symphonic Rocks, I did so begrudgingly, envisioning an evening of auricle torture.
Wow, what a surprise; Heineken Symphonic Rocks is one of the most musically powerful and extraordinary performances I have ever witnessed! Not only was it a show that would rival anything shown on any world stage, it managed (and this is what I so thoroughly enjoyed about the show) to keep a uniquely South African flavor. The diversity of the bands was reflected in the diversity of the crowds, yet every band had the crowds on their feet.
The 65-piece orchestra, led by the incredibly talented John Walton, provided the backing for each of the 12 leading SA bands that performed on the night. The talent and dedication required to pull of the feat of painstakingly translating rock to string, is commendable. This talent was clearly demonstrated on the night when John Walton guided his 65-piece orchestra with poise and energy, so that they were able to bring magic to the performing bands. The bands that performed on the night truly were a reflection of leading South African music- with each band playing some of their biggest hits- the bands were further a reflection of how South African music can now justly be considered to be on an International level.
I thoroughly enjoyed the performances given by ChianoSky, Toya Delazy and Zahara. ChianoSky, who, at just 19 years old, exuded sophistication and wisdom, and managed to hypnotise the crowd with her soulful voice. When Toya Delazy came onto the stage, she did so with all cylinders blazing and immediately brought the crowd to life. Toya Delazy was one of the few artists who heightened the power of the orchestra, which proved to be a powerful crowd aphrodisiac. Her award-winning Pump it On got the crowd on their feet with some crazy energy. Another powerful woman to grace the stage was Zahara. I had heard of Zahara’s record-breaking sales, but had never witnessed a live-performance from her before. The power of her voice is breath-taking. Every note delivered from her mouth is done so with feeling, and her heartfelt Lolive left me with my mouth hanging open.
That said, my favourite performance of the evening was that given by the charismatic and incredibly-talented, Zolani Mahola (from Freshlyground). She single-handedly ensured the success of the night and stole the entire show! You could physically see the passion in her face and body as she felt the meaning of the words to her songs. I had goose bumps running the length of my arms when she sang I’d Like. Zolani possessed the unique ability to transcend all boundaries and managed to unite the crowd as one, regardless of genre or ethnicity.
This year’s Heineken Symphonic Rocks was a vibrant showcase for South African talent, with the diverse range of bands (backed by the awe-inspiring orchestra), allowing for a wide range of tastes to be accommodated. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a few ‘converts’ to other genres that happened on the night, as exposure to other quality bands may have opened up a whole new world of music for some listeners, such as myself.
I left Heineken Symphonic Rocks with my ears buzzing and feeling proudly South African.