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Music and More from Madame Zingara

2007-05-15 11:02

What it's like: Freshlyground at Madame Zingara
- Cape Town, May 13th

It's difficult not to feel festive at Madame Zingara, even on a Sunday, and even on that most mercilessly corporate-manufactured of all commercial holidays, Mother's Day.

The massive, luxurious tent on Cape Town's once-desolate Foreshore is laid out like a giant strip club or comedy club with booths round the sides, a wooden floor, mirrors everywhere and wine flowing as if a certain famous miracle maker were alive on earth (and charging a 100% mark-up on all goods). By 6pm, an hour after doors opened, the seats were all taken and new arrivals got standing room only or hung around smoking outside.

Waiters and waitresses dressed in 60s air steward uniforms sold excellent salty French fries and hot dogs from trays (that's the only food on offer on Sundays, so do make other plans if circus food isn't your thing).

The real fun began when Freshlyground got onstage.

Fusion pop can be, well... awkward. Sometimes it's more fun for the musicians to experiment than for the crowd to hear. Not so this time. Freshlyground have come a long way. If you saw them a few years back, see them again. They're a completely different animal. They use to be a talented group with a rather twiddly loose jointed sound, now they're playing like Ryk Neethling swims - the different musical strands of funk, blues, kwela and pure pop work instinctively together like trained muscles, and it sounds like the new album (due for release in September) may be their best yet.

As my mother-in-law puts it: "They're not an African band, or an English band, they're a South African band". She loves "Doo be doo". She loves Zingara's and videotapes it on her cell phone.

Lead singer Zolani loves to entertain. "We've mastered the art of unchallenging choruses", she says: "Doo bee doo bee"... "la la la la"... taking the piss out of herself and bringing the house (tent?) down.

Making the best of limited space in the oversold venue, Freshlyground enticed the crowd onstage to dance in the second half. It's easy to see why this group deserve the accolades and international success, albeit in the so called "world music" category (which they're cool enough to mock). There will always be jealous rumblings drawn from those languishing on the sidelines of success but SA's friendliest pop export may already be too famous to hear them, or care. Coming up at Madame Zingara
(Book in advance on www.madamzingara.com or call (+27) 021 426-2458. All tickets are R120pp and exclude hotdogs, frites, and drinks. Normal menu is NOT available)

Sunday 13 May: Freshlyground
Sunday 20 May: Comedy Festival
Sunday 27 May: Springbok Nude Girls
Sunday 3 June: Watershed
Sunday 10 June: Goldfish
Sunday 17 June: Jimmy Dludlu
Sunday 24 June: Flat Stanley
Sunday 1 July: Bed on Bricks
Sunday 8 July: Iridium Project and Coda

Special event:
Christmas in July

Saturday 28th July

Every other night
R300pp for all six courses, and the show of the night.
Menu and more details here. Booking really is essential.

- Jean Barker

Freshlyground set the big antique mirrored tent alight on Sunday night in Cape Town. And there are many more great acts to follow, including Watershed, Goldfish, SNG and more, finishing with a Christmas in July party on the 28th of July. Then the action comes to an undisclosed location in Jozi, for eight full weeks

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