Beatenberg | A great performance despite the venue

Words: Dave Mann
Photography: Harold Gess

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It was a strange experience being seated in the grand, Guy Butler theatre to watch Beatenberg perform live for the first time. Monument is never the best venue for gigs like this because the sound bounces off the hard brick walls or shoots up to the high ceiling before it reaches your ears. The techies adapted quickly though and by the second song, Southern Suburbs, the sound was perfect, and it was pleasing to see most of the audience drop the formalities and leave their seats to dance.

It’s not difficult to see that guitarist and vocalist, Matt Field comes from a background of jazz. Above the impeccable unison the band has, Field kept time with his constantly tapping feet and even let slip a few passionate scats under his breath during short solos. Robin Brink on drums can be credited with most of the great rhythmic moments throughout the performance.  His strong kwela breakbeats pound out a sturdy base on which Field layers short, sharp pop notes and catchy chord progressions. Ross Dorkin only had one or two fluid bass solos that he really let loose on, but it’s always good to see a musician enjoying their own music, and it was his fervent steps across the stage that inspired much of the crowd to move along to the band.

Field also surprised the audience with a solo performance. Soft, measured vocals allowed him to really explore the guitar, exercising dexterous, showy finger work. To no surprise was the reaction to Pluto (Remember Me). From the moment Brink beat out the first few notes, the crowd were out of their seats, ready to sing along.

The trio have good reason to be one of SA’s number one acts at the moment. They’ve come to be known as a band that contributes to the broadening soundscape of new South African music and I tend to agree. I’m interested to see what they do with this fame. With many local acts of this calibre touring almost entirely overseas, it would be good to see a distinctly South African act stay local and build the scene up from the inside.