KAT MANNE reviews

The multi-talented rock musician, Myles Kennedy performed a vulnerable and spellbinding solo show at the Grand Arena, Grand West in Cape Town. His tour aims to promote his solo album, Year of the Tiger, a deeply vulnerable collection of work telling the story of Myles’ late father and his mother’s journey after his father’s passing. The album was released just a few days after his Cape Town show.

Myles Kennedy

The Grand Arena

An eager crowd settled down in the Grand Arena as Andy Mac of Macstanley addressed the audience with tangible excitement and informed us of the 72-hour journey Myles had undertaken to get here on time. Soon after the praise from the Macstanley vocalist, the stage lights dimmed to darkness and a clear voice commanded the arena before the stage was slowly illuminated once again. Myles began to narrate a twenty-year long career with tender renditions of hard rock hits with a few new tracks from his solo album illustrating his frame of mind in different chapters of his life. Year of the Tiger was a bit of a leap for the Alter Bridge front man and he ventured away from hard rock by experimenting with an authentic sound and challenging himself musically and vocally to unpack this difficult and intimate back story.

A man and his guitar

Dressed in a casual check shirt, Myles sipped his water and tugged some hair behind his ear and began telling us the origin of his “elf ear” as if we were old friends sipping drinks in his living room. Myles seemed tired during the show and yet he spoke candidly to the audience with a fondness that made his performance even more intimate as he performed with a confident yet laidback demeanour that produced just as much emotion as if he were playing with a full band and a poignant delivery that was simply magical. He played Year of the Tiger from his new solo album and pushed the sound towards country, showcasing his versatility and also easing us into the tone of his solo album. Of course, some part of the evening had to go wrong, as the universe dictates, and one of guitars fell out of tune mid-song (due to the low tuning and colder temperature on stage) prompting a curt “What the fuck just happened to my guitar” followed by a chorus of laughter before he continued to play.

Musical narrative

What I found particularly interesting about Myles the fact that he was probably exhausted and yet he was so excited  to play, stating that he would have swum here if he had to because he has been looking forward to this for a long time. As he strummed gently with his eyes shut, his voice resonated with a tender yet powerful register and each rendition seemed to carry the weight of his memories and the aesthetic of each story. Myles commanded the stage with gentle performances, he engaged the audience with sing-alongs to popular tracks like Open Your Eyes and brought on a folk and country influence with rhythmic strumming and resonating chords echoing in the large arena. Myles showcased superb vocal control, lingering on higher notes and captivating the crowd with his tender and melodic handle on each song.

All ends well

We were blessed with some beautiful renditions of songs which he mentioned weren’t played live very often. He explained why he chose songs such as Life Must Go On, noting that many fans had paid tribute it and he also selected some fan favourites which were never played in front of a large audience. Before going into a rendition of Alter Bridge’s All Ends Well, he paused in hesitation and said: “It’s not just that I’m playing it in front of this room, it’s gonna end up on Youtube,” indicating that even an esteemed rock legend can get a little nervous when playing something in front of a large crowd for the first time.

Once the show had come to an end with one of the many standing ovations he’d been given, Myles tossed a handful of plectrums into the crowd, asking if he were to come down again, if we would be there. The answer, of course, was a resounding “yes”. Myles does not need the “pyro” and “drum solos” he jokingly mentions mid-show; his narrative interludes, authentic voice and melancholy strumming was more than enough to inspire a collective stamping and thunderous chant for an encore, shaking the walls of the Grand Arena.