We never gonna survive, unless, we get a little Crazy.
by Louw Mulder
It was a cold Sunday night, and most people would stay indoors, unless, you get a little crazy. So a crowd of thousands faced those chills to go see a concert featuring a multi-award winning international star at the Ticketpro Dome in Johannesburg, last night. South Africa, and Jo’burg in particular, is the first stop for Seal’s twelve country tour, to promote his new album, 7.
The night started with the opening act, Tresor, who showed the audience why he was presented with the SAMA award for best POP Album in 2016. This multiple platinum artist from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, now residing in South Africa, really got the crowd going with some of his hits like Never let me go, and Mount Everest. But it wasn’t until the main act of the night came on, when the crowd really made themselves heard.
Seal came onto the stage in a mysterious, yet powerful introduction on his 1990 hit, Crazy. Dressed in black leather pants and red leather jacket, an entry like no other was the start of an unforgettable experience for a very diverse, and true South African fan base.
It wasn’t even halfway through his second song of the night, Killer, that Seal surprised everyone, creating what I thought was a nightmare for the Big Concerts security personnel. Without warning, Seal came down from the stage, through the barricade of photographers, to unite himself with his audience. In a matter of seconds, he was surrounded by fans, touching him and taking photos, while continuing to woe the crowd.
A lot of stars come to South Africa, telling their fans how much they love and appreciate them, but then they are doing so while hiding behind the barrier of security, dividing themselves from the thousands of people who came to appreciate their work. With Seal, this was entirely different, as he broke down that barrier to initiate an unexpected interaction between him and his fans.
In a press conference after the show, I had the privilege of asking him about his outlook on this topic. He replied by saying that there is no such thing as a bad audience, only mediocre performances. “I don’t like barriers. I know they are there for safety reasons, but I just don’t like the physical gap between me and the audience,” Seal explained. “The whole point of performing is to connect, and my primary mission when I go on stage, is to connect. I have to touch and be closer so that the energy can continue.”
“No one pays to see a bad concert. You have to assume that everybody comes to the concert to have a good time.” Seal answered. What I got out of the press conference the most, was affirmation of his love and appreciation back to the audience: “Basically the crowd wants to express and have a good time, and you have to give them the permission to do that, and therein lies the key. Once you do that, this incredible thing happens, because then the performance becomes multidimensional and the audience performs back to the performer. I draw so much from this exponential effect, when the energy flows back from the audience.”
This was evident when I experienced this first-hand during his Johannesburg concert last night. The intimacy deepened with a few acoustic renditions of some of his hits, with only him, his audience, and his guitar. This brought forward a cherished serenade of his beautiful, soulful voice. This setting was an avowal of his analogy in that performing to his crowd, is like going on a date. Ending this romantic acoustic episode of his show, was a fully orchestrated and perfect version of his 1994 US chart-topping hit, Kiss from a Rose.
The night ended with the crowd wanting more, and for Seal this feeling was mutual. Seal visited South Africa before, and admitted to having a great time here. “I am always blown away by the reception here in South Africa. You always get the true feeling of Africa, and that is why I decided to kick off my world tour here,” he told the media. Getting to know Seal a little more these last two days, I gained more respect for the artist he is, and completely understand the ideology, that humbleness brings success.
Seal’s SA tour is another Big Concerts experience, and an experience it was once again, powered by the magic of Mnet, Jacaranda FM and Channel 24. The next stop for this production before ending in Cape Town on Youth day, is in Durban two days before, at the ICC Durban Arena.