Magical Music In A Church

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The Central Methodist Mission Church has watched over Greenmarket Square since 1878. It’s seen much and housed many, many congregations as well as a good few political meetings and social gatherings in its time. On Tuesday night it was filled with a different congregation, mainly consisting of hipsters, for Best of the Buskers, a performance by three singer-songwriters.

Fresh from Rocking The Daisies, three enchanting singers and various surprise collaborators filled the beautiful church with even more beautiful music. There’s something magical about the stillness of the air in a church. The acoustics are breathtaking, the pews worn, and the setting gorgeous, made even more so by Studio 7’s arrangement of standing lamps amidst the band set-up, dwarfed by the vast organ pipes above the altar.

Dressed in white, Paige Mac opens her mouth and makes it easy to believe in angels. She sings a song that “reminds you to believe in yourself”, filling the church with a sound that really does inspire you.

Majozi joins her and the air again changes shape as they strum their guitars. The ghosts in the eaves shuffle and then fall silent, transfixed, as he sings. When she joins him, even the gargoyles decorating the walls of the church draw in their breath.

Peter Bibby and his guitar are up next. He’s an ambler, a rambler, and an Australian, Dylan-esque storyteller. Announcing that he wanted to tell a crass story but won’t because it’s a church, he launches into his repertoire of straightforward, funny, lyrical, naughty, booze-lovin’, medication-gnawin’ ditties. He oozes honesty and realism and, in his orange socks, he wraps the audience around his grubby fingers. His voice is mesmerising.

After a short break, Alice Phoebe Lou comes on: she’s just as petite and ethereal as expected, and her feet are grey-stockinged and shoe-less. She looks like a tiny 17-year-old (she’s not), but her voice sounds like it’s lived a thousand years, and tells the tales of an old soul. At times, she reminds me of Feist.

She brings friends on stage to sing, dance and mix music, while she tells the stories behind her songs – her father selling their childhood home and the impending feeling of loss; that she “never writes love songs, but sometimes you run out of subject matter, and you have to”. It’d break your heart, that love song. Her songs are raw and real.

And that’s where this concert brought down the house – three incredibly real, raw, honest and achingly beautiful acts in a venue filled with the secrets and whispers of the thousands of people who have crossed its threshold over the past hundred years. Pure magic.

This review was done for What’s On In Cape Town 

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