As 8 o’clock struck and I settled into my seat at The Lyric theatre at Gold Reef City last Friday night, burning with anticipation for soul star Simphiwe Dana’s annual concert to get started, the woman next to me took a phone call.
“Oh right,” she said over the line to friends.
“You’re leaving Midrand now. Great … See you soon.”
My eyes widened and continued to stay wide until all the guests had arrived.
This was at about 9.30pm.
And they did so loudly, laughing and talking, taking photos using their flashes, rowdily disrupting the besotted fans standing up front filming the entire concert on their phones.
Simphiwe Dana has “fans”, people.
The Kaya FM and Bassline crowd didn’t care it was a theatre.
They treated it like a noisy bar. Dana is a bigger person than me because she loved it.
She compares the event to performing in church and the spirit took the crowd, who spent a big part of the concert on their feet.
It was a whole new Dana up on stage with her exquisite and jazzy band.
She held us in thrall for hours, opening with the prayer-like Thina Sizwe, her voice on another level and her look revamped.
Dana has been having beauty treatment and her David Tlale frock was as stylish as it was revealing.
We got served up all the greatest hits to start with. Zandisile brought the house down and Mayine had audience members in tears.
The second half saw her channel the spirits of marabi, reaching a powerful high note with her version of Meadowlands.
Smiling with joy, she allowed fans on to stage to perform traditional dances before moving into searing Pan-African themes and a grand finale.
“That’s it, your money’s up,” she said three hours later, exhausted and having given it her all – as the last late arrivals trickled in.