ROBIN Auld pleased long-time fans and made some new ones who were unfamiliar with his music before attending a sold-out concert at the Little Theatre on the Wharf last Friday.
Often unfairly relegated to one-hit wonder status for his song All of Woman from 1985 – which still receives regular radio play – Auld’s repertoire is much bigger than that. He wrote a bunch of great songs in the 1980s and 90s and continues to bring out new music on his own label, Free Lunch Productions.
Based in the UK for the past three years, Auld continues to tour regularly in South Africa. Frequent collaborator on his South African tours, drummer/percussionist John Dickin joined him for the Port Alfred concert.
GOOD AUDIENCE RAPPORT: Veteran South African musician Robin Auld rocked the Little Theatre on the Wharf last Friday, drawing long-time fans and making some new ones Picture: JON HOUZET
Former Kowie FM DJ Colin Taylor of Taylor-made Events was responsible for bringing Auld to Port Alfred last week, after remembering how well the soulful-voiced musician has been received in Bathurst on previous visits.
The Little Theatre on the Wharf has drawn a faithful following since it opened a few months ago and even though some music-lovers confessed they did not know Auld’s music before the show, they came because there was a show.
Building a good audience rapport from the outset, the easy-going Auld said he would start his set with “something cheerful before I drag you down to the depths of despair”.
His first song was Perfect Day from 1990, also the first track on his Best of Volume 1 CD.
Those who have attended Auld concerts will be familiar with his references to his youth in Zambia and old jokes like the request from an audience member in Mossel Bay to play “Haasie”, meaning Haasie a Bad Moon Rising.
But his anecdotes still draw laughs from audiences who appreciate the banter.
Born to Scottish parents, Auld spent his earliest years in an area called Sesheke in Zambia, and reflected on it years later in his song Sesheke Town, about the black magic and voodoo in the area.
“Some guys there scared me s***less,” he said.
He recently re-recorded Sesheke Town and one of his biggest hits from the 80s, Baby You Been Good, in a new style.
He said Baby You Been Good got to number eight on the Springbok Radio hit parade and “got me into Scope magazine, sandwiched between an article on our boys on the border and some girls with stars for nipples”.
For the concert he played the song in a skanky reggae style.
“My new albums are more bluesy,” he said, illustrating the point with songs from Diamond of a Day and Over the Mountain.
Playing just acoustic guitar (with a loop pedal) and harmonica, and with the backing of Dickin, Auld was able to do some intense jamming.
From his most recent album, Fingers in My Pocket, he played That’s Too Bad, “a blues song for the modern man” about a relationship break-up, as well as the title track, which was inspired while waiting in line at a bank, and reflecting how “you pay through your nose for everything no matter who you vote for”.
Other songs hauled from his Best of catalogue included Love Kills, which he described as “a cheerful song”, and the lovely ballad All the Girls Cried.
Of course he also pleased fans by also playing All of Woman, which got some in the audience up and swaying.
Taking requests from the audience towards the end of the show, he sidestepped the request for “Haasie” and Summer of 69 and instead played a cover of a Little Walter tune, My Babe, which went to number one on the Billboard R&B charts in the USA in 1955.
He encouraged audience participation on Ain’t You Glad, although people got stuck on the “shoop de shoops”.
After Auld and Dickin played out with some good jamming on Charly Go Crazy, half the audience were content to go home, but some die-hards waited for an encore and were not disappointed.