Big names at rock concert

2014-05-19 00:00

SOUTH African rock legends Prime Circle, and South African Music Award-nominated Durban band Gangs of Ballet, are just two of the big draw cards at this year’s Royal Rock Concert, which is to be held at the Royal Show in Pietermaritzburg on Saturday.

This year’s concert, which gets under way in the main arena at 3 pm, will also feature performances by Watershed, Fire Tree and Undivided Roots.

Gangs of Ballet received five nominations at this year’s Samas for their album yes/no/grey, winning best producer for Darryl Torr.

The band comprises Brad Klynsmith on vocals and electric guitar, Jonathan Rich on keyboard and synth, Hardus de Beer on bass guitar and Josh Klynsmith on drums.

Each of the band members is an accomplished musician in his own right, and together they have merged their individual tastes and styles to create a sound that is captivatingly fresh.

Their music, which boasts a winning combination of their vibrant energy and a host of musically intriguing melodies, cannot be pinned down to any specific genre. Instead, they experiment with an eclectic mix of alternative, melodic, anthemic, electronic and dance music.


Prime Circle, whose members are Ross Learmonth, Dirk Bisschoff, Marco Gomes, Neil Breytenbach and Dale Schnettler, have been a fixture on the South African music scene since they first burst out of Witbank some 11 years ago.

Their 2003 debut album, Hello Crazy World, rocketed to gold status in South Africa, with Live This Life, their 2005 follow-up, following suit.

In 2008, the band released All or Nothing, which raked in two Sama nominations, for record of the year and best rock album (English).

To date, the first single She Always Gets What She Wants has received over 789 000 YouTube hits — the most-viewed South African rock song.

Jekyll & Hyde, which was unleashed in 2010, was mixed in Los Angeles by Kevin Shirley. The first two singles from the album, Breathing and Turning in My Sleep, were each nominated for the Sama for MTN Record of the Year in 2011. In the same year, Prime Circle won the best international breakthrough act at the MK Awards.

The band released their fifth studio album, Evidence, in September 2012.

Says Ross Learmonth: “Without the fans, we would be nothing. And I don’t ever want to do anything else. Creating music for a living is a privilege and we never forget that.”


Watershed are one of South Africa’s leading acoustic rock groups, with a string of platinum and gold albums and awards to their name, but when their debut single, Indigo Girl , surged up the charts in 2000, it was hard to predict just how successful the group would be.

At the time of the song’s release, which was from Watershed’s debut album In The Meantime, the country hardly seemed a place to give real traction to a band that found their footing in the melodic notes and rhythms of acoustic rock.

Kwaito was still in its chest-beating prime, hip-hop was finding a home-grown form, gospel remained a compelling draw card, Afrikaans pop was more popular than ever before and, if anything, rock music seemed most likely to succeed when it came to global chart genres.

But Watershed persevered and their debut was followed by Wrapped In Stone in 2003, winning a Sama for best pop album the following year.

Mosaic arrived in 2005 and won the band a second Sama for best pop album award at the 2006 awards.

Craig Hinds is the man behind the lyrics of Watershed’s hit songs.

“Love It was recorded by my dad years ago, and it’s still a song I hear often on radio. Both my parents made a huge contribution to my career and my intense focus on the importance of real melodies,” he says.

Fans can expect to hear hits such as Shine On Me, Close My Eye s, Fine Way and many more from Hinds (vocals, piano, acoustic guitar, harmonica), Gideon Botes (lead guitar, acoustic and mandolin), Howie Combrink (drums), and James Sunney (bass and vocals).


Pietermaritzburg-based FireTree are made up of Jason Fox (vocalist and rhythm guitarist), Mark Williams (bass player), lead guitarist Tyrone Ramone and drummer C.J. Smit.

With Fox having had some vocal training, and Williams having played bass in the band Wonderfield during the nineties, it made for an interesting meeting when the two first got together and started jamming.

Therefore, when FireTree formed a few years later, they did so with a primarily acoustic sound, gradually growing into something bigger and better when Ramone joined the band.

With his jazz and metal background, he introduced an element of ambient vibrancy and haunting-sounding harmonies.

Smit, too, has become integral to the band’s development, creating beats of a classic-rock nature — energetic and grabbing of any audience’s attention.

The appeal of the band has remained broad, partly because they produce a genre of sound that blends indie with hard-rock in a poignant grunge-style rhythm that makes for easy listening pleasure.

Last, but by no means least are Undivided Roots — the siblings of the late Ntsangu “Tosh” Roots, who was a legendary busker in Pietermaritzburg — who play reggae, classic rock and R ’n B.

Their secret weapon is their 11-year-old lead guitarist, Judgement.

• Entry to the showgrounds is R50 (R35 for seniors and juniors, with pre-school children having free entry). Seating is provided in the main arena and on the grandstands.


DO you want to stand a chance of winning a meet and greet with Gangs of Ballet, Prime Circle and Watershed?

The #RoyalRock competition gives you a chance to do just that and to get some awesome band merchandise, including albums. To enter, all you have to do is Tweet, Instagram, or Facebook using the #RoyalRock hashtag, rock out at the concert, and that’s it.

Follow the Royal Show on Twitter @RoyalShowPMB, on Instagram @roy

al­showpmb and like the Facebook page: Royal Show South Africa.

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