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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

THE BATS (article first published : 2003-07-24)

What a pleasure to see a revival of the hugely popular rock group The Bats which is currently running at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre.

The Bats will be remembered for their performances in Durban back in the 60’s and the days of the Lonsdale and Butterworth hotel night club venues. After a 20 year break, they have regrouped and Eddie Eckstein, Paul Ditchfield and Pete Clifford prove that they’ve lost nothing of their verve, stage presence or infectious merriment. New member Derek Gordon fits comfortably into the trio as if he’s been with them since inception in 1964.

All over 50, these are no has-beens but highly experienced and accomplished musicians who are showing up many colleagues with their professionalism. From the moment they arrive – a la Superman - front man Eddie Ekstein holds it all together with his hilarious brand of humour, much of it being self-deprecatory! The group even proves that they could handle a bit of choreography. The sound mix was excellent and the only concern I had with the presentation was that Pete Clifford was often underlit in his position downstage right.

The show obviously includes many old favourites such as Shabby Little Hut and we were highly entertained by a “new” national anthem called Trigger Happy and an enchanting tribute to Nelson Mandela which remembers the day when he was a herd boy. The musicians also revisited numbers by Elvis Presley – Eddie at his most hilarious! - and the Shadows and explored more contemporary numbers.

While tonight’s audience obviously consisted of die-hard fans who were ecstatic throughout the show, it was encouraging to see a fair number of youngsters who hadn’t even been born when the group disbanded in 1980. In chatting to some of them, it is plain that The Bats are garnering a whole new age-group of fans. This in itself must be the biggest compliment of all to them.

Don’t miss the show – these performers are firmly carving their place in South African music history. CD’s and Bat caps are on sale in the foyer. The double Heart and Soul CD is going at a special reduced price of R100, and there are special offers for the other single CD’s.

The Bats run at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre until August 3. Performances Tuesday to Saturday at 20h00 and Sunday at 18h00. Tickets R50 (Friday and Saturday R60). Book at Computicket on 011 340 8000 or 083 915 8000 or www.computicket.co.za – Caroline Smart




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