I have great memories of my first experience seeing Johnny Clegg perform. Heidi and I must have been in about standard 7 or 8. With great excitement we headed off to see Juluka perform at the Orient Theatre in East London. Heidi’s Dad dropped us off, we quickly polished off a bottle of Espirit between the two of us (last of the big drinkers) and danced the night away at the front of the stage.
This experience was somewhat different. Finally, Saturday arrived. Due to unforeseen circumstances my friend was unable to join me. I decided to take Ella-Blu along with me and I am glad I did. I think she learnt more about our beautiful South Africa by listening to Johnny Clegg for 3 hours then she would in any History lesson.
From the time he appeared on stage and opened the show with ‘I’m sitting on the top of Kilmanjaro’ to the end of the show, 3 hours later, I was engrossed. Although it was an intimate show with great stories from Johnny, I really battled to stay in my seat. His music should not be listened to while seated. My favourite comment of his on the night was while he was telling us about his dancing partner, Dudu Ndlovu, who performed with him for years and was assassinated. He said he wrote The Crossing (Osiyeza) for Dudu and all the South African’s who didn’t flee to Australia.
The fact that he has been performing with some of his band members for more then 20 years really shows. He has a great rapport with Mandisa Dlanga and both of their dance moves are very impressive. The fact that Johnny can still lift those legs over his head, is super impressive. I reckon Maroon 5 got it wrong when they said moves like Jagger, should have been moves like Clegg.
I sat during the show trying to work out how old is. He said he started performing in 1976. My maths wasn’t adding up, surely he could not be over 60? Seems he is, 61!
He ended off his show with Cruel Crazy Beautiful World. He had hardly got off the stage when the audience started chanting: ” Johnny, Johnny, Johnny, Asimbonanga!”
He returned to the stage and spoke the most gracious words about our Tata Madiba, followed by Asimbonanga, which was accompanied with a brilliant tribute video to Tata Madiba. Ella asked if I was crying but luckily being a contact lens wearer you always have that to fall back on. Dust in the eye, scratchy lense etc. He stopped performing to play a clip, Tata had joined him on stage at a concert and addressed the audience with these words:
“It is music and dancing that make me at peace with the world.” ― Nelson Mandela
Thank-you Rattle & Mum and Real Concerts for the tickets and goodies. It was a night I will not forget in a hurry!