Most of my teenage years were spent listening to and growing up on Faithless, and being lucky enough to see them twice, you could imagine the joy and backflips that were done when the news in October 2010 broke out that Faithless would be making their way down to South Africa in early February 2011. This excitement was short lived as we realised that it was being held at the Grand Arena in Grandwest but then this insane wave of excitement flew over us again and we forgot about all about the Grand West and it’s ‘Grand’ Arena.
Fast forward 4 months and the day had arrived, I woke up and went to work with the exciting feeling only a kid gets on Christmas morning and couldn’t take my eyes off the clock at the bottom right of my laptop screen. I was slightly worried though, the drinking law hadn’t even been brought into play yet but the event was set to start at 8pm and end at 12pm with Goldfish being the long overdue supporting act for Faithless. It immediately led me to question what was to be expected at the Grand Arena in the not so Grand West. Are we going to see 2 hours of Goldfish and 2 hours of Faithless? Could both of these acts perform that long? Why wasn’t there a back up artist or even a possible opening act before these two? These questions kept filtering through my mind until 5pm hit.
I raced home from the office and quickly threw some clothes on – all while trying to pour my first drink, which I made sure was a strong one. The reason for this was due to previous concerts and events at the Grand Arena that led to issues with getting drinks before, during and after the events. We got through our pre-drinks, the taxis had arrived and everyone squashed in. My excitement levels were rising to an all time new level of intensity as we pulled into the venue. We were ushered through the side entrance and made our way through the food courts to be greeted by large amounts of people all going through to the concert hall. This is where the trouble hit!
After looking at the gigantic lines of people to get drinks, we resorted to being the sneaky buggers we are and tried to look for another watering hole which only led us to an even bigger bar area with possibly 3 barmen/women behind the bar to serve over 500 people in one room. We had had enough waiting and made our way inside while Goldfish were already well into their set (thanks to Grand West for your slow service and understaffing your bars) and had the crowd warming up nicely for Faithless. I had almost forgotten about the alcohol issues as Goldfish were slowly finishing up their act, making way for the overly anticipated Faithless to make a grand entry on stage. Once again, my excitement turned to frustration as ALL the lights turned on and the stage emptied out for about 35 – 50 minutes while they slowly got the sound check sorted out. I honestly couldn’t get my head around it, shouldn’t this stuff have been sorted out before the concert? Time to go get more alcohol…
By now, I knew we had been narrowed down to the choices beer in a plastic cup, Savannah in a plastic cup, redbull in plastic cup or a mixture of all three for all us “adventurous ravers” out there. I was woken up to the horrific realisation and possibly the biggest let down any party goer could ever experience – The bar closing EARLY! When I say early, I mean 9:45pm. I don’t know why they weren’t stocking hard liquor in the first place but when I heard they ran out of Beer/savannah/redbull or a mix of all three, I was shocked to say the least.
I stormed back inside the venue, murmuring to myself while only to be welcomed into a room full of darkness as well as cheering that would only make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. I got that amazing feeling of happiness, excitement and a new found energy all while my past trouble had been forgotten… Sista Bliss stepped up onto the keyboard situated right in front of me and out of no where this skinny black figure made his way through the smokey stage. Maxi Jazz stepped up to the front, grabbed the mic and shouted. His his first words had the entire venue going nuts. I can say this when I speak for quite a few people – Faithless saved the day. They were exactly what I expected, exactly what I wanted and more!
They played a mixture of classic Faithless tracks mixed with a few other tracks I haven’t heard from them before, which is always refreshing. They have a very diverse live act that you wouldnt expect from a dance group such as Faithless. There were two guys on guitar, Sistah Bliss on keyboard, 2 people on this drum kit that could only be described as “out of this world” and a handful of back up vocalists – one that Maxi introduced on stage to do a solo during one of his tracks. The lighting and sound was world class, I must say I was absolutely blown away by the standard of lighting and sound. The crowd was eating every little bit Faithless threw at them, singing along to songs, waving their hands in the air and enjoying exactly what they had came to see. No one could say a bad thing about Faithless, no one worried about the lack of alcohol and no one worried where they were for those 2 hours. We could have been anywhere in the world and it wouldn’t have made a difference. The amount of smiling faces proved exactly what Faithless had done over the past 15 years and I was one of those fans smiling a smile as each song was performed. They are natural born performers. They were born to do this and they do it so well.
We left the venue and headed out immediately for a drink in the casino to cure our craving for a sip of alcohol and while we watched the streams of people filtering through the foodcourt to the exit, it became clearly apparent that YOU CAN NEVER HOLD AN EVENT SUCH AS FAITHLESS at Grand West, EVER! Trying to get Cape Town kids to leave a party at 12 o clock is almost forbidden, you could see that they were definitely not ready to leave or be stuck in a casino after.
I know this piece may sound like I had the worst time in the world and while most the time admittedly wasn’t the greatest, Faithless saved the day and I think I would like to pass a little word to Real Concerts and Grand West separately:
Thank you Real Concerts for bringing down such a class act and organising Goldfish as the opening artists. I hope though that you will take into account that an act of Faithless’s stature deserve a proper venue. Find a venue you can run yourself, organise some alcohol sponsors, get your own security company who know how to organise and run an event.
To Grand West, you once again left a sour taste in my mouth. Your security was a really aggressive and an unfriendly bunch, your bars were understaffed and worst of all your bars were under stocked. How can you not sell hard liquor, how can you run out of alcohol, this is a concert is it not?
I am sorry, but the rant is now over and so is the event. I hope Real Concerts and Grand West learn from this and take it in their stride going forward for future events but know for certain that I will never attend an event at Grand West ever again. Real Concerts, I look forward to seeing who you have in store for us next and we know you guys are still new and learning. Take this as a serious learning curve and let’s give South Africa some big great acts in the future.
God is a DJ!