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Sly and Robbie in Bassline, Johannesburg

The magic of Sly and Robbie can only be experienced live, one has to be there to feel the vibration of the bass and the magic beat of the drum, even if Angus Taylor were to write the review and tell you about the notes and bars they hit, it would still not be enough to contain what the experience is like. Sly and Robbie performed in South Africa for the first time at Bassline on the night of September, 8th at the invitation of Joburg Arts Alive international festival. They were accompanied by very seasoned south African players of instruments. A legendary event, with living legends and legends in the making.

Joburg live music lovers were treated to a rare combination of jazz and reggae dub, with Nomfundo Xaluva Jazz Quartet warming up the stage for the Rhythmic duo to set Joburg alive with the dub side of reggae. The audience was carried through a musical journey with Nomfundo Xalisa doing some wicked covers of Mama Mirriam Makeba’s rare songs channeling the African spirits and calling for the unity of Africans, thus setting the tone for the rest of the evening experience. It was a double bill night, with the fusion of genres, generations and continents.

Then it was time for main act and we got treated to the dub sounds of Dawn Penn’s No No No, Sister Nancy’s Bam Bam, The Abassynians’ Satta massa Gana and many more Taxi Gang classics with Robbie doing the vocals and kept everybody jamming, grooving and reminiscing. While the duo held the rhythm section down and lock, the younger musos held the horn section in check.  Senzo Mzimela [trombone] Sthembiso Bhengu  [trumpet] Linda Sikhakhane [tenor], the trio that added to the magic. Erik Paliani on guitar, stringing it with a bit of mbaqanga in the mix, making Robbie want to attempt to do the Zulu Dance ‘u gu ghida’, Tlale Makhene did his magic on percussion and Thando Magickeyz Mathebula on keyboard completed the set.

Photo: Facebook Linda Sikhakhane

That the three youngest members of the band, with a jazz background got to share the stage and the vibe with Sly and Robbie, is admirable to say the least. Guillaume Bourgad sums it up best:

‘They are young, the horn section looks like they fresh out of college (only slightly kidding!), they picked up the tunes quickly and play well. They absolutely love the Taxi sound and want to do that so we’re going to do the Taxi Gang classics (Hot you hot, Rockfort Rock, the Whip, Queen of Minstrels, Taxi etc…) and maybe if we have time to rehearse, we’ll do a Hugh Masekela tune or Vula Bops by Makgona Tsohle Band there are some wicked new sounds in SA compared to what the West was exposed to during the SA music craze (Paul SImon and Earthwork compilations for those old enough to remember) guillaume bougard

That we got to see the legends in our lifetime and got to celebrate them while still alive was a remarkable experience. Our gratitude goes out to the organisers, Joburg Arts Alive International Festival for conceiving such a beautiful event, considering that Joburg does not host much international reggae shows, this was the best show ever. In all, it was a legendary concert. Sly and Robbie are living legends and we are proud to have celebrated them in our/their lifetime.




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