Let’s get this out of the way to start off with: I never really listened to Passenger more than what I happened to hear on radio. So that’s basically 2 songs.
When I heard that the man was scheduled to come to South Africa, I did a bit of homework by watching some of his videos. this taught me 2 things:
1. He likes going places. Seriously, have you seen in how many music videos he is walking somewhere?
2. I kinda like his tunes.
Now, to fast forward from there to the show, I have to include my friend Jose Cuervo. He invited me to have some tequilas and go check out the Passenger gig at Zoo Lake in Joburg. I said yes, because Tequila. (You won’t easily hear me saying no to anything that involves some Cuervo). I arrived at Zoo Lake with my lovely friend Jaxy. She was just too amped for the show, seeing as she is a die hard Passenger fan. I had to calm her down a bit, so we headed straight for the Cuervo container. Yes, container. It’s a bar, built into a shipping container, with a deck on top and awesome people all around. A few shots later, opening acts playing and new friends made, we found some shade and chilled a bit. It was hot, and the icy Cuervo margaritas were flowing rapidly.
Then Passenger took to the stage.
His first little joke was aimed right at me. Something about people expecting a band and then one dude rocks up on stage with just a guitar and tight jeans. I ignored the tight jeans part, but proceeded to pre-judge an international act for touring with just a guitar and a stomp box. How dare he. Why should people have to pay to see one man when he could very easily have had a band? How is he ever going to fill up the massive stage and… and… “wait a minute. This guy is kinda good”.
Yup, from the moment he strummed the first cords and started singing poetry, I felt the urge to apologise to him for my previous train of thought.
Passenger was absolutely brilliant. The man is an entertaining, profound lyricist with an awesome sense of humour. He knows just how to engage a crowd 100% of the time. Some story telling between songs, but not too much. A joke here and there, but not wannabe stand-up, and the perfect songs for the vibe of the day.
I love the man’s social commentary on things like racism, the entertainment industry and even relationships.
I always say that if you walk out of a show a bigger fan than you walked in, it was a good show. By this logic, the Passenger show was one helluva epic gig! My only wish would be that radio stations would start playing more than just two of his songs.
Thanks for a delightful day Jose! You guys are legends. And Jaxy, thank you for showing me how much a true music lover can still enjoy a live gig. You echoed Passenger’s sentiment perfectly by immersing yourself into the event, and not into a little screen.
Here’s a video that Passenger made while in South Africa