I arrived at the Historic Center for the Book at 7 pm. I was told it was an old heritage site taking the form of a library. The walls looked grey and weathered but intensely beautiful and I knew I was in the exact right place to see Civil Twilight. Before walking in, I stood outside and admired a peaceful environment; after all I was opposite the Cape Town Company Gardens. As I walked in, the first thing I noticed was how intimate the room was, not because the lights were low or because the colours were warm, but because the entire room was oval and dome- shaped carrying within it many shelves and glass cabinets and within that; ancient books.
The MC was large and in charge, probably due to the Scotch whisky that the event was sponsored by. I would simply call it confidence for now. I never thought I would get the opportunity to meet Civil Twilight in the flesh. It was more of an admiration from a distance and I was always content with having the album and hearing them through earphones. However, as I sat down it became real that they were a just a few metres away in another room warming up. The MC was never without his drink and the glue that kept it there but I think everyone accepted it was a rock and roll event where anything goes. The excitement was building through me like a consistent impulse. Even more than that though, my nerves were shooting themselves one by one. I felt my shy self sink deeper and deeper into my chair while trying my best not to sip too much of my complimentary whisky. “Focus on the oranges in your glass” I told myself humorously.
The opening act was introduced as a breath taking and strong woman who blew producers minds. She walked barefooted and gracefully on to the stage proud to be Paige Mac. I had never heard of her before but was whole-heartedly interested in hearing her music. Her guitarist started the flow and it looked as though everyone was holding their breaths as she was taking one to start singing. As the first note filled the air and the oval room, everyone had stars in their eyes, as the words and her unique sound became one. It was a spine chilling moment for everyone in the room, even the bartenders watched with astonishment. Suddenly the turning point of the evening was upon us and we were all either dreaming or wide awake, one of the two.
Paige received a worldly standing ovation and humbly left the room. The MC returned and all of us seemed slightly disappointed and distracted, not knowing that his next words were what we were looking forward to all night. “The moment I know you have all been waiting for, please give a big homey welcome to civil twilight!!” The crowd lost all inhibitions, so much so that you would never think we were in a library.
Civil Twilight climbed the stage and Steven Mc Kellar’s first words were; “Sorry I’m late guys, I was in the toilet.” It was apparent that in that moment, they were just like us. Completely down to earth and my nerves began to settle. Every song I wanted to hear, they played and I was in heaven along with everyone else. His voice was sultry, calming and magnetic. You could tell straight away that there was an undying passion on that stage. Every pluck of a guitar string, gentle touch of a piano key and knock of a drum was a story being told.
When the last few songs were being performed, Steven said; “This place will always be my home so while I am here, I always strive to give you guys the best.” Then came one of their latest singles called; ‘Oh Daniel’ and straight away, it made us all feel special, it was upbeat, happy and had a local feel. Before they performed ‘Sweet Resistance’ they commented on how growing up can include many times of resistance but looking back, it is always sweet and that was something we could all relate to.
The performance ended and everyone was still in shock and awe after they had walked off stage. The moment I was hoping for and dreading at the same time was upon me. The coordinator led me to Steven and I was shaking like a leaf. I felt anything but advanced in that moment. Steven was sitting on a window sill smoking a cigarette and suddenly I felt the way he felt smoking- utterly calm. He smiled at me like I was someone important and shook my hand thoroughly in case I did not feel it.
I asked him if has any nerves before performances and how many wardrobe changes did it take to get him here fully clothed and satisfied. He replied that he always sticks to the outfit he puts on first thing in the morning till he sleeps at night. I was impressed. I then asked him what he and the band miss most about South Africa and they said they love how laid back it is here because in America everyone is so driven and constantly on a power trip for success. They feel as though they can come back here for some normality.
The experience was impeccable and something unforgettable.
Images: Ashleigh Swartz
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