By Ken Grady
March 4, 2018
The Upside News
I wasn’t really thinking clearly when I booked my tickets to see the Soweto Gospel Choir at The Flamingo, in Gluttony, on Sunday afternoon
Unbelievably, I had not factored in that it was Adelaide 500 Sunday. At 4:00pm. Right in the middle of the main race.
Having to complete with the continuous buzz-saw whine of the V8s mindlessly going round and round the Adelaide streets just outside, this irrepressible choir rose to the occasion and sang with an unfettered power and passion, blocking out the incessant scream of the external noise pollution as they paid a wonderful tribute to Nelson Mandela who would have celebrated his 100th year in 2018 if he were still alive.
Starting with their usual greeting, in all eleven official languages of South Africa, this hugely talented collective launched into an appealing series of their more traditional songs which were rich in joyous harmonies and infectious rhythms.
The first English language tune of the performance was a rendition of John Hiatt’s Have A Little Faith In Me, which fit the Mandela tribute narrative beautifully as did a sensitive interpretation of Peter Gabriel’s moving modern lament, ‘Biko’.
Infusing the songs with synchronised percussion, dance, and some occasional comic pratfalls, the energy of this show was impossible to resist.
A gospel medley that included Jesus On The Mainline and When The Saints Go Marching In was another highlight, the Choir giving these overly familiar tunes a much needed adrenaline shot, completely revivifying them.
A lively version of James Brown’s I Got You (I Feel Good) had everybody out of their seats, and this brought the show to its conclusion and prompted a sustained standing ovation from the capacity audience.
An encore, an extended version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, gave all the featured soloists one more chance to shine, and it was obviously a crowd pleasing choice to bring this memorable performance to a close.
As the applause died away, we were all suddenly reminded there was still a race going on outside – but, thankfully, for one wonderful hour we had been allowed to forget.
The Soweto Gospel Choir are playing a full season of shows during the Adelaide Fringe, and if you have not seen them before, make sure you do.
If you have been lucky enough to have seen them before, then see them again – particuIarly as I would say this Mandela inspired set is even more cohesive and more affecting than last year’s terrific show.
Rating: 4 ½ stars