The Guy Butler Theatre is brimming with an ocean of predominantly white faces. Clearly Clegg junior doesn’t have Daddy’s cross racial appeal. Opening act Guy Buttery walks onto the stage immediately pointing out that Guy Buttery is playing in the Guy Butler Theatre. “What a trip,” he says.
The dim blue light and smoke emitting from backstage smoke machines creates a halo effect around Buttery’s freshly Pantened locks. St Buttery – patron saint of guitar skills. Reverb rings through the theatre. “Frequency of consciousness,” he jokes. He intrigues the crowd with his deadpan quips, and when he has us in the palm of his hand he begins to play.
He only has four songs to showcase his vast talents, so he makes them count. Coaxing a variety of impossible sounds from his instrument his tracks sound more like those epic Café del Mar numbers than one dude with a guitar. He moulds the guitar to his will creating dreamlike soundscapes you could float away on. The Martian Folk Song featuring the musical saw is particularly surreal with its wah-wah effects.
After Buttery’s four shorts songs the stage goes dark and there’s a mad dash to remove guitars, saws and other paraphernalia. Set lists are placed at where the feet of the musicians will be in a couple of minutes. Some folks in the back get restless and try to start a rhythmic clap to hurry Jesse and band onto the stage. But not enough people care to make it a success. Gradually the musos take their places, ending with Jesse Clegg himself. The crowd gets a little excited, but not too much.
They launch straight into an energetic but mediocre rock song. The bassist is a caricature of a female bass player with her spiked up hair, hoody and nose-ring. But she rocks a five-string bass and plays the violin, so she’s cool. The rest of the band looks quite bored, as does the audience. Despite it being middle of the road radio rock no-one is singing along, or even tapping a foot or nodding a head in time to the music. In-between each song he attempts stage banter in his oke-like dialect.
Audience expect more
“Hey gaaas. Laaak thanks so much for coming.” Despite being the son of a South African music legend, he doesn’t seem comfortable onstage. He explains the background of every ordinary song assuming we care. The audience remains unenthusiastic expending energy on only the obligatory clapping after each song.
He’s going for anthemic rock ballads, but they are neither interesting nor catchy. The tunes don’t stick in your head, and you can’t sing along by the time the second chorus comes around. He dedicates the last song on the set list to Michael Jackson claiming that he was a huge musical influence. This is nowhere apparent in Clegg’s music as he sounds more like Nickelback than Jackson.
This last number is his radio single Today which gets the audience the most excited they’ve been all night. The classic manipulation of ending a show on a high trying to fool us into believing the whole concert was great. An oldie, but a goodie.
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