Daniel Friedman
2 minute read
3 Jun 2019
9:04 am

Opinion: Why you need to see Ben Harper Live

Daniel Friedman

I'm now 38 and the prospect of seeing him live is as exciting to adult me as it was to that teenager.

He’s a multiple Grammy-winning multi-instrumentalist who has been making quality albums for almost 25 years.

But while some, like myself, will react with excitement and even awe at the news of his Gauteng concert, others may say ‘who’s Ben Harper?’

He may not be as massively famous as Ed Sheeran or Sam Smith, but many true music lovers will be awaiting his one-night-only performances in Menlyn, Pretoria and Grand West, Cape Town this week with the kind of anticipation reserved for a man whose music career has made him a living legend to his following of die-hard fans.

An avid collaborator, Harper will be doing some songs with the acclaimed, multiple award-winning national treasure that is the Soweto Gospel Choir.

Some discovered his music through other collaborations, like his association and friendship with smooth, surfer/folk rock hitmaker Jack Johnson, or through his get-togethers with Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder.

He has been one of my musical idols since I was a teenager and my guitar teacher lent me a tape of his 1995 album Fight for Your Mind. I’m now 38 and the prospect of seeing him live is as exciting to adult me as it was to that teenager.

It’s not the first time, either. I saw him live in 2008 at the Werchter festival in Belgium.

My favourite part of the show was when he came onstage alone with his acoustic guitar, but Harper is no one-note acoustic singer-songwriter.

While many come for the folky ballads, if they stay they realize how much more he’s capable of.

Some were introduced to him through beautiful, simple breakup songs like Walk Away, Waiting on an Angel and Another Lonely Day, but a listen to any one of his albums will deliver reggae (Jah Work), raw blues-rock (Whipping Boy), funk (Bring the Funk), soul (Better Way), social commentary (Excuse Me Mister) and gospel (I”ll Rise).

He’s also responsible for one of the best ever songs defending ganja smoking in the form of Burn One Down, and just straight up one my top ten most beautiful songs ever written, She’s Only Happy in the Sun.

If you know and love his music, you have no doubt already bought tickets.

If you don’t, and you have a music streaming service or even just YouTube, a fair warning. A thorough look into his back catalogue may take a couple of days, and side effects may include a deep desire to see him perform at one of his two South African shows.

Ben Harper live in Cape Town:
4 June 2019: Grand Arena, GrandWest
Doors open 18:00
Tickets from R195 at Howler.co.za

Ben Harper live in Pretoria:
6 June 2019: Sun Arena Time Square, Menlyn Maine
Doors open 18:00
Tickets from R195 at Howler.co.za

Harper will be performing with the Soweto Gospel Choir and will be supported by Auriol Hays in Pretoria and the Jack Mantis Band in Cape Town.

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