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

JOE COCKER (article first published : 2004-09-5)

Joe Cocker … with a Little Help from his Friends is the title of Stuart Mey’s latest offering at The Dockyard Theatre.

The show – as the title suggests – features the music of Joe Cocker and bands like Chicago, Blood Sweat and Tears as well as Earth Wind & Fire. Stuart and fellow soloists Clive Gumede and Nomi Zondi also perform numbers by Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Phil Collins, Wilson Pickett and Tina Turner.

This is Stuart Mey’s kind of music and he is at his best in this selection of powerful numbers, particularly Spinning Wheel, You Can Leave Your Hat On and Mustang Sally.

Clive Gumede has grown considerably in stature as a performer and from the moment he explodes onto the stage with I Feel Good, he impressed with a consistently mature and strong delivery. I would have liked to have seen him tackle something quieter and more controlled but that’s just a personal opinion. Clive also did himself a disservice by moving out of the main area of light during some of his numbers.

Nomi Zondi makes a welcome appearance at the Dockyard. Slim, spunky and elegantly dressed she is an appealing performer although she needs to pay more attention to her articulation and her tendency to slide over words.

Stuart Mey has rock-solid back-up with his regular musos Bruce Boome (also the musical director), bass player Glen Turrell, drummer Ian Webster and keyboard player Musa Mtetwa.

Well-known for his aim to unearth new talent, Stuart introduces a young brass combo. This talented threesome – made up of Russell Scott on trumpet, Kirsty Madgin on sax and David Solomon on trombone - nearly stole the show. Let’s hope we see lots more of them on the entertainment circuit!

The setting was far more user-friendly to the performers than it has been in the past, with the musicians situated on well-placed platforms to allow maximum space on stage. Even so, Stuart Mey poses a considerable figure which immediately pulls focus and it would be better if he only entered the stage once the other soloist's number had been completed. While the lighting was impressive, more light needed to be placed centre stage as the singers often disappeared into shadow.

This evening’s house was packed solid – alarmingly so from a crowd control point of view should anything go wrong – but the staff coped admirably well and we were served very quickly.

Joe Cocker, With a Little Help From His Friends runs until October 9. Tickets R75 for the show and R55 for a two-course meal. This includes a choice of four mains: Sirloin Steak served with a choice of sauces (mine was very tender, considering it was sirloin); Moroccan Chicken tossed with mushroom and pepper; Grilled Linefish or Veg Lasagne. For dessert there’s a wickedly rich and delicious Malva Pudding or Meringue Mousse with Dockyard’s delectable chocolate mousse. The other option is Amarula Dom Pedro.

The Dockyard Theatre is soon to make way for further development at the Point but the exact date seems to be unknown at present. In the meantime, make your way down there for a high-energy evening of hot music which pays respectfull – and accurate – due to the original artists and their chart-topping numbers. Be warned, at weekends you need to run the gauntlet of the traffic chaos that exists outside the lower Point Road night clubs.

To book, phone 031 332 1086 or through Computicket. – Caroline Smart

(Just a point in passing, while driving home it was great to see the massive Cell C murals on various high rise buildings now well-lit at night.)




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