Seether: Live!

2008-06-19 08:23
Homecoming Tour
Watch "No Jesus Christ" live in CT video
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It's a classic rock 'n roll catharsis that nails just what sets Seether apart from every other South African rock band. No, not the size or polish of their post-grunge cocktail of radio anthems, nu-metal dirges and symphonic rock seizures. It’s the unbridled intensity of lead singer, Shaun Morgan's Dionysian drive.

Sure, some cynics might want to pigeonhole his bipolar lyrics and bruised tonsil toasting as a crafty cross between Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain, Staind’s Aaron Lewis and um, Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger? Or maybe dismiss his insistence on baring and sharing his confessional tales of fear, self-loathing and suicide as a 'death trip' sales pitch way past rock's sell-by-date. But there's a reason why Morgan had the Mother City crowd eating out of the palm of his hand from the moment he walked on stage to kick start Seether’s Homecoming Tour.

That's right. Shaun Morgan is South Africa's only real rock god. And like every rock god from Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix to Kurt Cobain he buys into poet William Blake's maxim that "the road to excess leads to the palace of wisdom". God knows, Morgan knows more than a bit about excess. Since his much publicised break-up with 'alternative' rock siren Amy Lee he's been on a rollercoaster ride of excess that infamously ended up in that "Call Me Sober" kiss off and a stint in rehab. So has he straightened up?

Um, yes…uh, no…who knows? Oh, hell no! If his Machiavellian axe murder's grin during a rampant version of "Eyes of the Devil" was any indication then he's still channeling his demons into some pretty intense arena rock spaces. But here lies the method in Morgan's 'madness' - his unfettered fury inhabits not just the stage, but the entire arena. Which is exactly what fans want from a rock god: to feel we're not all alone; to forget our own shitty lives for a couple of hours and commune together at the Holy Grail of rock 'n roll head-banging.
Oh come on! Didn't such a tortured artist spiel die with Kurt? What’s so fascinating about watching an unshaven, overweight dude in baggy jeans, hunched over his guitar wailing on about how life sucks? Simple: Morgan's existential spiel is for real. No shabby chic indie-disco hairdo or skinny jeans smokescreen needed to convince the punters here. Instead, just an ordinary guy on a mission to mainline some real emotion back into a rock 'n roll corpse in danger of putrefying on its own pastiche.

That's right, some real pain: on the slow bruised power ballad surgery of "Broken" that for once sounded more "Black Hole Sun" than Jon Bon Jovi. And real loss: on his unwaveringly inspirational rendition of "Rise Above This" dedicated to his deceased brother Eugene. And yes, a good old-fashioned, 'it isn’t broke, so why the f**k fix it?' rock 'n roll swagger on their play list of hits that ranged from an irreverently bouncy take on "Fake It" to lean and mean arena rock renditions of "Cigarettes" and forgotten Saron Gas classic "Beer".

Okay, got the point, cool. So were the support bands any good? Well, compared to Seether how does 'amateur hour' grab you? Probably a bit harsh - especially since Stealing Love Jones' Esjay finally seems to have found the sex appeal to match her voice somewhere on their recent American tour. 12th Avenue was something of a surprise. While their heavy rock blancmange of Queen, Aerosmith and Guns 'n Roses isn't excatly spontaneous, the fact they got the crowd singing along to more than one of their c**k rockers was no mean feat. The only question left was why the hell do indie-pop rock poster boys aKING always sound so dis-interested when they get the chance to play on a big stage?

Finally, while we're on the subject, here’s a thought on the whole 'inflated' ticket price issue that’s had some websites actually bothering to debate whether Seether are still a South African band. Is it better to fork out R300-odd to watch faded international 'stars' like Foreigner milk their last 15 seconds of fame for a 'nostalgic' trip down memory lane? Or spend the same money on a chance to experience a Billboard chart busting, Sama-winning rock band in their prime? Just a thought.

- Miles Keylock

"So quick to choose the path walked by the righteous/Now you can go and nest among the weak/The innocent observers will refuse to find the lie within/Renew the disappointment of the meek" aches Shaun Morgan as he wanders around the stage. The syllables crawl off his tongue while serpentine, detuned guitars circle, hover, and hang - a millisecond of silence. Then the floodgates of head-banging hell are sliced wide open by his devilish wail: "You're no Jesus Christ! You're no Jesus Christ! Put the publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

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