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Gig review: Heldervue at the Purple Turtle, 9 December 2009

December 10, 2009

Last night I went to see a band I rather like. Heldervue, formerly the Vontaines, is an exciting three piece from Somerset West. I met singer Julian Bach and drummer Fourie Pretorius years ago when I worked as a barman in the Helderberg area and have followed their progress as a band recently on Facebook. In October I bought their debut album – Communal Accordance – and was hugely impressed with the quality of the songs and complexity of their arrangements. Until last night, however, I had never seen them live, apart from one or two early acoustic gigs at the band’s inception. I decided to catch them at the Purple Turtle off Long Street, having missed all of their Manic Mondays shows at my favourite live venue, Mercury in Zonnebloem. They, along with the Lua Union, supported Stealing Love Jones.

Three super talented musicians, Heldervue work together to create something truly engaging on stage. The band is greater than the sum of its parts. Fourie can give any drummer a run for their money. He, together with bassist Phil Joubert, holds the fort down, effortlessly switching between time signatures a la Tool or Soundgarden. Julian, a talented and charismatic front man, belts out anthemic and catchy choruses, an interesting counterpoint to the band’s love of complex rhythms. It’s their unity, collective focus and obvious passion for their craft, though, that set Heldervue apart from the blandness that pervades much of the South African music scene.

Live, the band has a tendency perhaps to draw out songs a bit too much. Jamming limited their half hour set to a mere four or five songs; however, this is a fair indulgence in the hands of a tight, well-rehearsed power trio. Heldervue, with their energetic performance, had the crowd out of their seats and on their feet, but they deserved a bigger crowd last night – a much bigger crowd. I have a feeling it won’t be long before they get this. Julian and co. already have more than 1,500 fans on a Facebook, which is as good a way as any to gauge their success.

In the tradition of Cream, the Jimi Hendrix Experience and Nirvana before them, Heldervue is a lean, no nonsense power trio. Communal Accordance, produced by front man Julian Bach, is my favourite South African album since Lark’s Razbliuto. It’s available at Music Moods, Somerset Mall for R109.95 – an absolute bargain. Highlights include “Order of the Opposites”, “Evolve” and the ten minute epic, “Clean Machine”.

As for the venue? Well, the Purple Turtle is a little rough still. I used to attend punk gigs here in matric. I’m told it recently underwent a refurbishment, but not much has changed in the five or so years since I last had my wrist stamped at the door. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Cape Town’s dingier nightspots tend to be more entertaining than the run of the mill, pretentious cocktail lounges etc. that in recent years have increasingly invaded the city centre.

All in all, last night was a fantastic night out marred only by the fact that I was caught driving 80km/h in a 60km/h zone on the way home. 8/10 for Heldervue, three points for me. Blind.

Catch up with Heldervue at:


From → Cape Town

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