A ‘DJ saved my life’ kinda moment

2012-06-06 10:19

Somehow I made it through football’s equivalent of the Bermuda Triangle. I think.

It was an awful, miserable, terrifying seven-day expanse in which not a single minute of competitive football was being played anywhere on the planet.


There’s no relief anywhere. All the cool bits about globalisation – satellite TV, the internet – fail to come to the rescue.

Nothing has a live game that matters to offer. There’s not even competitive industrial league games on in Berea Park.

Sure there was the Bafana-Ethiopia fixture and the brain dead team-versus-country friendlies and pointless international kickabouts on DStv, but any of these options make about as much sense as paying the SABC for a TV licence.

By last Wednesday evening it was getting really, really bad. I was even missing The Smear soapie.

The sight of a Gleefully Gloating Gwede whipping up the masses outside the court, so distasteful the previous week, was starting to look positively sexy from where I was sitting.

The news that the Miami cat who ate the other guy’s face was high on the Peeve, that awful bath tub amphetamine that’s showing its ugly face in Durban, didn’t make me feel any better.

Add to that the horrible realisation that there was – realistically speaking – a football-free weekend to crawl through and a good couple more sleeps until Poland take on Greece in Warsaw in the opening game of Euro 2012 on Friday night.

It was way too cold to bodysurf the footie withdrawals away. My palms began to sweat. I was even starting to regret giving up smoking cigarettes.

Into the dark place where from which so many punters have never returned strode guitar god Bheki Khoza and his devilishly talented Quartet, the saviours of the moment, who were in Durban to promote a still-in-production album which comes out next month.

It was a “DJ saved my life” kinda moment, the stuff that gives you hope.

Khoza, drummer Babes Ndamase, bassist Mandla Zikalala, pianist Mncedisi Khupa are in the game.

They turn the usually hour-long 6pm Centre for Jazz and Popular Music gig into an intense, two-hour introduction to the new album, which they haven’t named yet.

They’re four songs into their set before Khoza remembers about the audience and gets his rap going.

Khoza’s got this deadpan, straight-faced delivery where he drops these heavy verbal bombshells without batting an eyelid.

He gets into it: this band, they’re a collection of pretty serious people hand-picked by me for the job, so take them seriously.

Sama nominations? He got one for Getting to Heaven Alive in 2010 and couldn’t get work for the next year.

Aren’t awards supposed to stimulate your career?

Khoza’s a serious cat. He takes the music seriously and expects that from everybody around him. But there’s a teasing, self-deprecating humour about Khoza as well that balances the Umlazi-born guitarist.

Then they’re done. Back to reality. Good Friday is still a weekend-plus away. Bummer.

But there’s still sensory relief to be had. Khoza and associates put on two more gigs – one at St Clements in Musgrave and another banger at the Rainbow in Pinetown.

The Rainbow gig’s amazing. It’s a homecoming for Khoza – it took him 10 years to accept that he lived in Jozi – a pretty damn respectable replacement for Sunday afternoon footie.

Ndamase, who had been commuting between Jozi and Durban daily by bus to play in Khoza’s band and do other gigs, didn’t make it back.

No problem. Khoza gets hold of S’bu Zondi, Durban’s baby-faced Samurai with the sticks, a couple of hours before the gig.

Zondi’s still studying and here he is, unprepared, on stage with a legend like Khoza – but he gets stuck in and manages to pull it off.

The Rainbow’s a marvellous 30-year-old Durban institution that owner Neil Comfort took over from OGs Ben Pretorius and Billy Mthembu in 2001.

It’s a rock of ages in the Clermont taxi rank, welcome in a city where jazz venues are few and far between, and tend to die quick yet horrible deaths.

It’s also a place where music and football usually coexist, a “no airs and graces” geezer heaven with cheap quarts and decently priced, blindingly tasty grilled chicken.

By the time patient-as-Job Neil herds the last of us out of the Rainbow – no mean feat at the best of times and even more difficult in the off season – darkness had fallen.

Our mood hadn’t. We’d made it through the weekend.

There’s only five sleeps to go till we’re outta the valley of death. This is doable.

It’s time to start watching the pretournament magazine shows and hitting the Guardian football site.

It’s game on. Thank you, Mr Khoza, for saving me.

When the album with no name comes out, consider it bought.

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