‘Venue is damn important’- a mantra and stern reminder I’ve had for the past few weeks. Alice Phoebe Lou is amongst some of the local artists, including Hyroine who are nailing the mantra.
WORDS: ZACH LEES
PHOTOGRAPHY: ZACH LEES
Alice is currently on a world tour and recently saw the tour bring her home to Cape Town for a one-night show in the Central Methodist Mission Church in Greenmarket Square. Here she performed a perfect, intimate show which many of her fans have come to love about her live performances. Hyroine opened the show for her and set the tone for the evening in the beautifully beautifully lit church.
Hyroine were exceptional as usual and took great advantage of the acoustics offered by the church hall and the exceptional sound engineering by Jethro Harris and his team. The band made the opening set feel like it could’ve been the headline set with confident playing and their usual quirkiness. Helen didn’t keep her jokes backstage and incorporated them into her performance.
I was blown away by how the acoustics of the church worked so well with Phoebe’s performance. This most recent show I think consolidated my personal opinion that Alice Phoebe Lou is currently South Africa’s best live musician due to the versatility that Alice displays with each show. Every show she changes the set list or the songs are worked differently while she adapts to the given venue. The show itself contained elements with the full band, half band and wonderfully intimate solo moments where Alice really opens up to the crowd and accepts vulnerability as a performer. 95% of the crowd are always respectful of this and it lead to a real emotional connection – even if only brief – between performer and crowd. On this occasion there were two drunk attendees who were doing their very best to talk over Alice between songs, though she handled the matter very graciously and kindly where a lot of performers may have become overwhelmed and rude. This endearing display of kindness was something that the fans noticed and complimented her on after her performance.
Alice is extraordinarily musically gifted. Besides her beautiful voice we would watch her play guitar one moment and the next she’s on the keys. There was a great moment about halfway through the song where Alice made a small mistake, making herself laugh and consequently the audience but instead of letting the mistake define the song she simply started the part over. Everyone is human after all.
Alice’s touring band consisting of Ziv, Julian and my man Daklis were very tight and brought a lot to the show with their exceptional playstyles. It is always important for a solo artist to have a great band behind them, both musically and also as a means of support – something that these guys offer in abundance and was very clear backstage before and after performing.
Venue wise this show was once more a superb breath of fresh air from the regular scene and is somewhere I’d love to attend shows again. I’d really urge bands to make notes and try their luck in the church. Not every band would fit in a church venue, though Alice and Hyroine made the space work for them. There is real potential to put on something special for fans. The unique lighting options combined with grandiose hall acoustics made for a wonderful evening all around.
If you didn’t manage to catch Alice for her brief stint in South Africa there is always a way to get her music into your home via her iTunes, Spotify or even purchasing her physical releases (something I’d highly recommend – having both her debut album ‘Orbit’ and her solo acoustic EP on vinyl). As always Hyroine can also be found on iTunes, soundcloud and with a 7” vinyl release of their most recent single.
ALICE PHOEBE LOU