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Stunning original Simon & Garfunkel tribute

Peter Feldman

07/08/2019 12:32:15



Peter Feldman:

 

As a music reviewer, I have endured numerous tribute shows over the past decades.

Few have stirred the emotions or provided such stunning musical interpretations as this Simon & Garfunkel show performed by an eight-piece group of amazing young musicians.

Here's to You is a two-hour performance of Simon & Garfunkel's songbook as you've never heard before. It is imbued with intricately woven melody lines, clear-as-crystal-lyrics and expert musicianship on a variety of instruments which include guitars, piano, violin and cello. One intrepid performer even uses a wooden box to tap out a rhythm.

The show, which is beautifully choreographed as musicians switch instruments for each number and move into different groupings, highlights not only the famous duo's best-loved compositions, but a number of more obscure songs, all effortlessly rendered.

Evenly matched in both gender and racial diversity, this band with no name features four females and four males. On the female front there is the amazingly adept Hanna So on piano and violin, the sweet-voiced Ashleigh Butcher on guitar, the commanding Sani Jooste on cello, and the soulful Phindy Dube who provides some delightfully jazzy twists, adding fresh dimensions to numbers.

The four men are multi-instrumentalists Josh Ansley and Daniel Geddes, who do most of the vocal interpretations, Justin Swartz, and their celebrated musical director, Wessel Odendaal, on piano and drums among other instruments.

What is fascinating is that the tasteful arrangements allow the audience to experience fresh and inventive interpretations of songs, from the inspiring evergreen Bridge Over Trouble Water to a toe-tapping Mrs Robinson and from the moody Hazy Shade of Winter to the bouncy Homeward Bound.

Music from the award-winning Paul Simon album Graceland, with its strong South African connection, is represented, too, with the title song, and the classics Call Me Al and Diamonds on the Souls of her Shoes.

There is a wonderful duet of Dangling Conversations between Josh and Ashleigh and Hanna opens the second half of the programme with magnificent piano variations on Simon and Garfunkel melodies. The Boxer rubs shoulders with the upbeat of El Condor Pasa and I Am A Rock stands firmly next to an insightful rendition of Scarborough Fair. 

It's a low-key show, never over the top, with sensitive lighting patterns and and a rare enthusiasm that bubbles from the performers and engulfs the audience. A commentary on the life of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel is left to a minimum because it's the music that really does all the talking.

Here's To You makes a nice change at Pieter Toerien's Montecasino Theatre and allows the work of one of the world's great singer/songwriter combinations to be fully appreciated. It is a refreshingly innovative theatrical presentation without losing any of the essence of the original compositions.


Here's To You is on at Pieter Toerien's Montecasino Theatre, Fourways, until 28 July after which it will transfer to Theatre On The Bay in Camps Bay.


Twitter: @petersdfeldman_
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Peter Feldman has been a journalist and arts critic for almost 50 years and served on The Star in various capacities for 35 years, ending up as a specialist writer on films, music and theatre. During that time, he travelled extensively on assignments and interviewed many international film and pop stars, both in South Africa and overseas. He also covered some of South Africa's biggest film and musical events. He was one of only two South African journalists to be invited by Steven Spielberg to the Hook film junket in LA in 1991 where he interviewed the famous director as well as Dustin Hoffman and the late Robin Williams. He attended the gala James Bond premiere in London in 1981 and did an iconic interview in a Rolls Royce with Roger Moore who played Bond. He spent a week touring England with Queen prior to their Sun City visit in 1983, interviewed a host of international stars on films sets in Hollywood and London and was the first local journalist to nail an interview with The Rolling Stones prior to their SA visit in 1995.

He is active in the freelance field and his work has appeared in a variety of South African newspapers and magazines, including Artslink.co.za. He has also worked on TV and radio (ChaiFM 101.9) in his specialist capacity. Over the years Feldman has been the recipient of several awards for his contribution to music journalism and the SA record industry. He is a recent recipient of the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz award in recognition for his long-standing journalistic support for the arts. He wrote lyrics for some top artists, including Sipho Mabuse, and had a hit disco single, "Video Games," which was released in 1988. He coined the phrase “Local is Lekker.