6th March 1998
Milton (The Gig Guide)
Willoughby (Business Day)
Couzyn (Cape Review)
The Set List
- I Wonder
- Only Good For Conversation
- Can't Get Away
- Crucify Your
- Jane S. Piddy
- To Whom It May
- Like Janis
- Inner City Blues
- Street Boy
- Halfway Up The
- I Think Of You
- Rich Folks Hoax
- Climb Up On My
- Sugar Man
- Establishment Blues
- Forget It
Here is a scan of the planned set list from the sound engineer's mixing desk - compare this to what was actually played!
Live in Bellville
(reprinted here with kind permission of Evan Milton)
70s (and 80s and, it seems 90s) folk-rock "icon" Sixto Rodriguez
played his first South African performance live at the Bellville Velodrome
on Friday, 6 March 1998.
Evan Milton was there.
Front page of the
"Die Burger" 7th March.
"He's really alive!" were
the words on more than one nostalgic fan's lips as a crowd of over 2 000
listened to Rodriguez's first ever live performance in South Africa - and
his first appearance on stage in 18 years. The "Sugar Man" enthralled
from the first, instantly recognisable, notes of "I Wonder" through
to the much requested and long-awaited "The Establishment Blues".
South African Music Association "Best Album" winners Big Sky
ably supported the visitor, with Willem Möller's electric guitar providing
a focus during the simpler musical songs, with Russel Taylor's hammond
and Graeme Currie's bass underpinning the set. Rodriguez was visibly moved
by the audience's enthusiastic response, chanting his name between every
song, and with a round of applause and calls of "Rodriguez we love
you" following each song.
The Mexican American revealed a refreshingly
contrasting "superstar attitude" to other recent international
visitors, repeatedly bowing and thanking both band and audience. At one
point the singer called for silence, in his unmistakable voice said, "A
picture" and stepped back, miming the action of taking a huge snapshot
of his fans. Ranging in age from 16 to 50-plus, those fans sang along to
most tunes, with nostalgia and youthful idealism in equal measure as the
older remembered their upstart 70s youth and the younger drew on the libertarian
lyrics and social commentary as idealistic focus inspiration. Finishing
the one-and-a-half hour set, Rodriguez was briefly visible on a parapet
leading to the dressing rooms, and waved a final farewell to the ecstatic
crowd. After the concert, he shook hands with, and personally thanked the
hundred-or-so VIP guests, eagerly and animatedly signing autographs, engaging
with stories of when and where people had listened to his albums and impressing
everyone with his warmth and sincerity. Many left the concert with plans
to purchase a second ticket for Saturday night's performance.
This review was also published with a few changes
in the Sunday Argus on the 8th March 1998 under the title: "Sugar
Man" Rodriguez sings it to adoring crowd.
Review, April 1998
I thought this guy was dead?"
by Kitty Couzyn
Photos by Sally Low
It's one of those Fridays. You know
the ones; tickets and invites abound, but all a poor journalist feels like
is slipping down a pool cue into a coma some where. Mr Branson's Virgin
Cola launch on Wednesday still monkeys the brain (The Sandton Sun will
never be the same again... yuk yuk - those little red canned Virgins with
a twist of V-vodka thrown in. shudder). Ah, what the hell, it is after
all the Rodriguez concert I've been invited to. Time to scrape the carcass
into the volkswagen and speed off in the same direction as Zaire. Finally,
after finding directions from a toothless garage attendant that assuredly
I've seen speaking backwards in a Lynch movie, screech to a halt outside
the Bellville Velodrome. It's always heartwarming to see how the local
constabulary selflessly protect us at big concerts. (It's like the annual
Big-Blue-Braai out here). Judging by all the rumour and heresay I'd heard
this concert was either going to a significant moment or a vaguely embarrassing
spectacle. Didn't this guy shoot himself in the head on stage to protest
the general dullness of life when I was about seventeen? Didn't Agent Mulder
discover proof that Nancy Reagan had abducted his father? After eventually
wheedling my way into the VIP section for free booze, I witnessed a story
that could unfold into an epic fable:
"They found him serving petrol in a garage in South America"
"No it was America."
"Isn't it amazing that this guy was only famous in Australia, New
Zealand and SA"
"You're kidding? I always thought He was a god in America!"
"Nah, his record company went bust before he was distributed."
A PR company couldn't have created a better angle if they had been
on Peyote and Prozac simultaneously. We were about to watch a man perform
for the first time in about twenty years. I met the SA journalist who had
tracked him down and asked him how he was doing. "Well the truth
of the matter is that he's got severe stage fright. We're just calming
As the crowd waited and the news of his shyness filtered out to the four
thousand odd devotees, a chant begun. Rodriguez! Rodriguez! Rodriguez!
We were all gently encouraging the dude that virtually defined our hey-shoo-wow contemplate-the-universe and overindulge-in-giggle-twig-years.
Finally there he was. The Bob Dylan of the Southern Hemisphere, the green
poet of our generation. The deliciously anti-establishment prophet of the
grey-pit in which we currently reside.He's dressed in a tie, black shirt
and squiggly-print waist coat like some caricatured spaghetti-western version
of a coke-dealer.
"That's funny, he's actually the age now that I've always expected
him to be"
In most of our minds he was the dude from the Cold Fact album cover.
There he looked like some big bad-ass Indian oil-rig worker. The sweet
man with the Donny Osmond shades and ingriating smile was not who we expected.
It was impossible not to pick up the sheer bewilderment on his face. It
"Hey esse! Who da fok all these people shouting fo?"
Then began the singing. There it was, that golden voice. After twenty years,
like it was mellowed in casks of oak - if anything, more rich and golden.
The only way to describe the tidal wave of emotion that erupted is with
gratuitous exploitation of expletives and superlatives. Unbelievable! Awesome!
Shivers up a thousand spines! One of, if not the best concerts ever in
Cape Town. Everyone, knew every word. No, you don't understand. Every!
Word! At one point, the man faltered on a verse and the crowd calmly
kept on singing, lifting him back onto the melody like a nurturing mother
on the day of her baby's first steps. What made the whole scene specially
touching was the transparency of his true amazement. Imagine going to an
obscure country that you've never seen before, just to find there are thousands
of people who still adore you, for songs you sung in your youth. He was
literally a resurrected angel for two mightily special hours. The encore
would have gone on all night if they had been allowed to.
At the after-party, the buzz was
just soooo infectious. He signed autographs and graciously met all those
who wanted to shake his hand. I am Twenty-seven and like to think of myself
as beyond the sycophantic irritation stage. But this I had to be part of.
Everyone in that room had dreams of Rodriguez taking over America - a resurrection
supreme. Some sadly doubted the reality, I for one believe wholeheartedly
that Rodriguez could storm the Grammies in 1999.
If we have anything to do with it, he will.
Thank you Mr R, we'll never forget you,
Now give us your sunglasses!