I vividly remember the first time I watched Plush live. It was an acoustic session almost 9 years ago and there were roughly 50 of us – give or take – crammed into a tiny venue in Stellenbosch, made all the more intimate by the falling rain outside. Rory strummed his guitar and we sipped our Tassies and smoked our cigarettes in a trance of audio pleasure. The music, though haunting, beckoned to us and we embraced its warmth. We felt comfortable. As if sitting on our couches at home watching a mate jam his guitar. It was a special evening and by the time it had ended, I knew that I had found something special. I was a fan who had found something that called to my soul.
I’ve watched Plush live a handful of times since that night and have thoroughly enjoyed every second of it. I was the guy at the front – slightly to the side – singing his lungs out. I appreciated the music, the lyrics and the emotion that was conveyed by the band as they performed. I wasn’t there to jump around and get buck-wild. It wasn’t my vibe and theirs neither. It was about a connection. An understanding. And the music.
Plush recently finished off their final farewell tour, aptly named the Postcard Tour. The tour saw the band travel South Africa playing gigs at some of their favourite spots. When I heard that they’d be playing at the Klein Libertas in Stellies, I knew that I had no choice but to check it out. Whilst I was sad that the band was calling it quits, I couldn’t think of a better venue to rock out one last time with the guys and then bid them farewell.
After a quick bite to eat, I arrived at the venue to find a small crowd rocking out to a local act. Paint Club, I believe. I grabbed a beer and a seat on the bleachers next to the stage and lit a smoke. I overheard talk of the first time someone had heard Plush and how much they meant to them, or how much their lyrics spoke to them and moved them. Although there was talk among the groups around me bemoaning the poor support, I knew better. With all due respect, I knew that the true fans would arrive to watch Plush and not a random support act, as good as they were. The crowds would come.
The local act finished up, thanked the crowd and I grabbed another beer. I made my way to the front through the ever-increasing crowd, absorbing the excitement. It was palpable and the crowd was revelling in it. We were all there for one reason and I felt that familiar comfort settle over me.
That night the band rocked the crowd. They interacted as ever before and jammed all their hits. From Tata Jozi to Able, to Today, to Wishing Well, the crowd was afforded a solid two hours of audio pleasure. Like each session before. It was something special and I wasn’t surprised. The brilliance of Plush is that they are as good – if not better – live as they are on their albums. No Plush concert is complete without a rendition of Halo and as the crowd began to sense the end creeping closer and closer they began to call for the song. They weren’t ready to bid the band farewell without hearing the song one last time and when the band did eventually relent the crowd burst into rapturous song.
“Pick me up. Pick me up in your time…”
And then it was over. An era completed. As the crowd dissipated I felt a series of intense mixed emotions. I was grateful for having found Plush and thankful for what they had given me. I was glad that I could stand in the front – to the side – and watch them perform live one last time. The concert had thrilled me and yet I felt an emptiness and a sadness for the loss of something dear. At no point was I emotional to the point of tears but the reality of ‘one last time’ had set in. This was it. No more. Done.
My journey with Plush has been real. I’ve felt an attachment to their music and consider myself a true fan. It’s been a real journey and although watching them perform live is no longer an option, I know I can always tune into my iPod and appreciate their brilliance. Their memory lives on through their music.
My thanks to Rory, Carl, Emelio, Devin and Chas – may he rest in peace.
You stay classy.