On Friday the 28th March I saw the South African rock band Prime Circle. The details of the event said that we would all be meeting at old church in Green market Square. Me not being the most religious person did not think it would be a literal church. I walked in expecting a priest to welcome me, forgetting in that moment that I was there for a rock concert. How ironic I thought. I saw a sign near the door reading: “All drinks R15,” these drinks of course included the utmost innocence so I had the divine choice between coffee and coke. As my photographer Ashleigh Swartz and I entered, the church was in darkness but the pulpit glowed with the help of blue lights. The bands instruments were all there surrounded by tea light candles watching us all. Ashleigh and I found a long majestic bench instead of plastic seats; I still could not believe that I was in a church to see a rock band, how unique I thought. As we sat down in the darkness, the most well known songs played quietly for ambiance. Hearing the excited murmur of the guests just over the music rubbed off on me.
The host of Studio Seven events jumped the stage beside all our darling instruments. He welcomed us all and thanked the reverend for allowing a rock band to perform in his church. The ‘cool’ reverend smiled and said no problem; he looked somewhat more excited than the rest of us. One thing I can say is that no time was wasted, as soon as the welcome was over, the band was brought out. “Please welcome Prime Circle,” they walked out one by one while our suspense grew. They all reported to their instruments and the band leader Ross Learmonth opened with the line “Thanks for choosing us over the Jazz Fest.” Everyone giggled and shouted in triumph. As the electric guitar batted out its first note I looked around and I could make out in the darkness that people were drooling. When Ross started singing I noticed a pattern of beautiful dips as the music flowed from note to note. Their talent was undeniable, as we all sang along to the words of each song. I think we were all in awe six songs in. In between songs, Ross would tell a story about each of the band members, making fun of them. He told the story of how he met fellow band member Marco Gomes. He impersonated Marco with a voice that sounded something like a Spanish senorita crossed between one of the South Park characters, it was hilarious. Marco laughed along with us.
After another song, Ross spoke about his father. He asked his father what he thought of their band after a performance. His father replied in a very Scottish accent; “The bands great but your voice sounds like your testicles are caught in something.” The night became half rock concert and half comedy show. As the words of the next song “I need something” filled the church I got chills, you could hear the passion in the song and the intense needing of something to save you. It was definitely a moment that everyone shared. Ross then went on to tell us all what their music means to them. He said that as they were kids, they would dream of being in a band. While they had their skate boards, they dreamt of the Blue Jackson guitar in shop windows. Finally living out their dreams, Prime Circle has certainly made it. “The next song on the agenda, you have all played 1000 times,” said Ross. We all waited in epic excitement for what was apparently our favorite song at some stage.
They solidified their success with the song, ‘She always gets what she wants.’ The first note dropped and indeed we all knew what was coming. “She comes around like a wild fire, and like a moth drawn to a flame.” Everyone swayed their arms and sang along to their once ‘ole faithful’ song. Ross spoke again and it became something we all looked forward to at the end of each song. “These intimate venues make me nervous, so I ramble,” said Ross. The intimate crowd smiled with forgiveness.
The band then remembered a good friend that they had lost and started to play the song ‘turn me to stone.’ We could all relate as we all lost someone at some time. The venue instantly picked up on the sombre but somehow serene vibes. The crowd was quiet out of respect. They moved on to something less melancholy- a song off their new album titled ‘My City.’ Ross said that the song meant no matter how bad things get, your city will always be home, you will always find a way back to your city. Once again we could all relate and realised that the famous band was no different to us. They were down to earth and that made it all the more intimate and enjoyable.
The band conveniently ended on one of my favourite songs, ‘Consider me.’ As we all listened, we did not want it to end. It was the most powerful moment of the night. Seeing Prime Circle in the flesh and in such a unique venue made missing the Jazz Festival a pleasure.
Images: Ashleigh Swartz
Facebook: Prime Circle