Seether are an LA-based band whose last two singles spent close on six months at the top of the US rock charts. Less than 10 years ago they were wannabes from Centurion who couldn’t even win a battle of the bands competition.
Frontman Shaun Morgan Welgemoed is keen to remind local audiences he hasn’t forgotten. From the South African flag (on stage and tattooed on his arm) to name-checking Barney Simon to playing alongside the childhood friend who taught him guitar, their Cape Town show is a wild celebration of their origins.
So it’s only appropriate that the setlist is packed with the songs they first performed as Saron Gas – the piledriving ‘Gasoline’, despairing ‘Driven Under’, melodic masterpiece ‘Fine Again’ and take-no-shit ’69 Tea’ with its bitter ranting: “Don’t tell me that you’re a bedwetter / I don?t care if you are”.
But this is no nostalgia trip back to Morgan’s bedroom in Rooihuiskrans where he’d obsess over Nirvana; without losing their raw power, these simple, direct songs are now performed with the potency and skill of a top international group. The singer’s roar has been strengthened by thousands of cigarettes, mohawked bassist Dale Stewart is as nimble with his fingers as he is across the stage and John Humphrey alternates between beating the hell out of his drums and dropping in unexpected fills. Even newcomer Troy McLawhorn seems at home, posturing like a lead guitarist should while effortlessly handling the solos.
A pity then that this crack unit – not averse to instrumental noodling or even drum solos to stretch out intros – avoid much of their more intricate recent work. Bravely kicking off the Grand Arena performance with the most ambitious song in their catalogue – the eight-minute ‘No Jesus Christ’ – their live rendition sounds even more epic and sublime than the version on ‘Finding Beauty in Negative Spaces’.
But they only return to the new album twice – the infectious ‘Rise Above This’ gets the fists in the air while an agro ‘Fake It’ turns into a mass shout-along.
The swinging anthem gets even bigger cheers than eternal favourite ‘Broken’ which, wisely, has been amped up tonight – this isn’t a folk fest after all, it’s a loud, sweaty, beer-fuelled rock show.
With Seether on top form throughout – other highlights include ‘The Gift’ and ‘Remedy’ – it’s clear they’re no longer the wannabes who lost that battle of the bands. They’re the real deal.
- This article originally appeared on iafrica.com.