Anyway, Durban history lesson aside, while it might not be as slick or visually indulgent as The Hard Rock Café franchise was, Zack’s under the ownership of John Humphries, has become known for its unwavering support of local bands and musicians. Not only do they host the annual Durban Blues Festival at the Wilson’s Wharf branch on the harbour, but they also try their best to give up and coming young artists an audience and a stage to showcase their talents.
I had read in the newspaper a couple of days before that an artist I have come to appreciate over the last few years, namely Rowan Stuart, was launching a new band and a completely new sound at Zack’s on Sunday night. Rowan is no stranger to Durban’s music loving audiences. A tremendously talented musician he has carved out a strong reputation for himself over the past few years playing original acoustic and soft rock material, so it was going to be interesting to hear this new, harder alternative direction he has decided to take with his all new band, Light In Cages.
We got down there a little after 6pm to get a bite to eat and then take in the show. The weather was typically moist for this time of year, but surprisingly in spite of this there was a pretty good turnout for the show. Up first was another band I had not heard of before, Habit To. Apparently they’ve been on the gig circuit for quite a while.
A chick with seriously long and wavy blonde hair, piercingly blue eyes, a blood red SG (a la Angus Young) and who goes by the name Chillie Stent is the front end of Habit To. They hit the stage without even having done a sound check, but from the first notes I knew I was going to like them. Metallica, Guns n’ Roses and some original pieces made up a really rocking set. Even the wife, whose tolerance of hard rock doesn’t usually extend beyond a few of the tamer AC/DC hits was on the verge of making her own private mosh pit. Very infectious sound. I like.
And then there was a shift in the atmosphere. Rowan and his new band, Light In Cages took the stage and I think more than just a few preconceived notions went sailing across the bay when they launched into their first song. Loudly. Muchos loudly!
It’s always interesting to me how artists find inspiration and continue to remain relevant in changing times. U2 kind of pioneered their way around their own early rock footprint of the 80’s when they brought out the Achtung Baby album in the 90’s. What Rowan Stuart has done with his own musical style is not dissimilar to that kind of seismic shift. In fact, I think he’s gone beyond it. You might even compare it to James Morrison suddenly finding himself fronting Death Cab For Cutie. Big brass ones are needed when you make such big changes to your style and Rowan has evidently found himself a pair of those. And he wears them very well I might add.
I’m a great fan of Indie Rock and I’m very excited to see that sound take a bold step into mainstream SA music circles, and yeah, I am beginning to think that maybe the lack of Durban fizz is all in my mind as I doddle through middle age. Rock shows on a Sunday night in Durban? Hoodathunkit?[nggallery id=54]
On the photographic side I decided to convert these images to B&W because the lighting at Zack’s was kind of uninspiring. All shot with the Nikon D700 and Sigma 70-200mm 2.8 OS. I did take down my Olympus OM-D kit, but would you believe it, I left the battery in the charger back at home.