Saturday, March 06, 2004

The Radium Beer Hall, Orange Grove

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Service: *1/2
Food: N/A
Ambience: * * * *
Babe Count: * * * *

Tonight at the Radium there's no-one too worthwhile looking to start with. But that's gonna change as the night wears on. Wendy New definitely pushes the babe count over the threshold.

I'm here cos Wendy's doing a gig, and her supporting act is the Durban whizzkid, Ian Henderson. It's quite glum not having Jacqui here with me. But I'm feeling confident-ish that she and I may be able to work something out in this relationship of ours. Last night's date has given me hope. Still, it would be ever so cool to be enjoying the music with her.


Ian Henderson gets introduced by Damon Berry in his most showmanly Master of Ceremonies mode. I've seen a few MCs in my time, and even been introduced by several of them in my time as a standup poet. But Damon must be the most rousing of all of them. He can whip a rotten banana into an enthusiastic roar.

Damon says, "Ladies and gentlemen... all the way from Durban. He's single! He's sizzling! He's Ian Henderson!!! Any groupies here, please give generously!!! Put it together for Ian Henderson!" And the applause rises.

Ian Henderson, a young Tom Waits lookalike. Major musician. Keep your ears tuned.And Ian doesn't disappoint. I've got his CD, and I've given it many a spin on a Sunday afternoon and on late nights at the computer. And he's bloody good.

Looks-wise, he's incredibly similar to Tom Waits. Long, horse-like face. Brown hair. Craggy face. Dazzling smile. Musically, I think he's a bit of a mix between Dave Matthews, David Grey and Joshua Rouse.

Very quirky, very listenable. And very cool live. Tonight is his first gig as a new Johannesburg resident. He's moved up from the coast. "I didn't think I'd ever like living here," he says, "but I have to admit that I'm kinda enjoying it." Starts his set. Just him and a guitar. And a time delay pedal so that he can do some experimental stuff a little later.

Damon buys me an imported Orange juice. Ten bucks I don't have to pay. And it doesn't take TOOOOOO long for the bartender to get it.

Everyone's very supportive of me in my bereavement. Shoulder massages from Wendy. Pats on the arm from Damon. But it's not really bereavement anymore. It feels like I'm really just giving Jacqui space. I figure that if we're going to go the distance, I'd like to wake up forty years from now saying, "I gave this woman space to be herself. The Jacqui I love is the real deal. It's HER. It's not some projection. It's not her acting out a version of herself that she thinks will please me. It's the Jacqui who had space to discover herself, with me supporting her in that."

And you know, if it doesn't happen, if in this space, she finds that she needs to be alone, that's cool. That's real. And reality is what I'm keen on. What's more, she's worth it. Every dip and peak in the roller coaster trip I'm strapped to at the moment is fine. Cos she's still the woman of my dreams.

Ian's set is over. "Hey!" he says when he gets off stage to join us. "Let's go compare babies." He's just bought a brand new Mazda MX5. And I've got the original model. Managed to park opposite his.

"So you're going through some stuff," he says. He's just bust up with his babe, and it's been hard on him too. We get to the cars. His is a midnight blue. Killer colour. A true beaut. Mine's red, and has pop-up lights.

Wendy's tuning up. We go back in and I order tea before the set starts. Frances Charlton has stepped onto the stage to tune her ultra-chic didgeridoo. That ups the babe count. A babe with a didge. And she doesn't even have dreadlocks. And her didge is a thing to behold. It's brushed aluminium, with a high-tech mouthpiece. And she's truly tuning the thing! It's a two-piece tube, and it's got stops for the different notes. Very slinky, Ms Charlton.

And then the set starts. And the tea arrives. And it's warm and fine.

Wendy New live at The Radium Beer Hall. Hooboy. I've got her cd. I play it often. On repeat. For hours at a time. This babe's got it. Get her cd. Get it now.And Wendy is at her best, even though she's been dreading this evening with all her heart, cos her wrist is wrecked. She's a shiatsu practitioner, and she's developed some type of tendonitis which has flared up in the last two weeks to such an extent that she can hardly hold her guitar.

But she's been psyching herself all day, and she's ready to burst past the pain threshold in the name of art. And she does. And she's rocking as good as I've heard her. Beware... if you don't have her cd, you're missing out bigtime. It's at CD Wherehouse and Look 'n Listen, I believe. And if it's not, ask for it. And force those suckers to stock it.

Inevitably, the evening wears down. There's a Dublin rain that's been dribbling down like an old man's prostate discharge all day and night. And it's just reminding me totally that I'm all alone tonight. Jacqui's been watching Charlize Theron winning her Oscar in MONSTERS. I haven't seen it yet, but my editor at the Ethiopean Educational TV project, Stephen Foster, tells me that it's hardcore, and brilliant, and a humungous downer. I hope Jacqui's okay after it. Sigh. Would love to be there to hug and comfort her. And get some of that hugging and comfort for myself.

Damon and Ian start applying the peer pressure. "Come on," says Damon. Come to the Blue Naartjie. You're single. There'll be babes."

"I'm not single," I say, suddenly grumpy and snarling. "I'm just giving her space. And I'm not going to the Blue Naartjie." It's almost one in the morning, and I've got to work tomorrow, cos of the day I had to take off last Tuesday because of the breakup.

Damon and Ian smile. That's the answer they've been looking for.

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