national Arts Festival Banner

Sunday, September 30, 2012


Review of the concert at the 2012 Witness Hilton Art Festival by Keith Millar

For reason or another, I had never seen guitarist Tony Cox live in concert before the Witness Hilton Arts Festival. After hearing him play, it is a lapse that I seriously regret, and I hope that I will be fortunate enough to hear him play again soon, and often.

All the superlatives that have used to describe Cox and his guitar playing, virtuoso, maestro, genius, iconic are true. This man is quite simply brilliant guitarist.

He is also a pretty good raconteur, coming across as a warm and friendly person as he chats to his audience with humour and sincerity. He relates anecdotes about his music and his life and is able to create a very convivial ambiance which leads to increased enjoyment of the concert.

Only one item on the programme which is titled Tony Cox – Well And Truly Plucked,  was not his own composition and that was Henry Mancini’s Baby Elephant Walk. He related how he had first heard this tune in a movie called Hatari which starred, of all people, John Wayne as the leader of a game capture team. He later transcribed the orchestral work for guitar. The result is stunning.

Cox’s compositions have their own unique sound and style. Obviously influenced by his roots in Zimbabwe and South Africa, he produces powerful music of rare beauty with strong rhythmic and percussive qualities.

We were treated to several of his own works including The Eighth Nerve, Humming Bird and Salty Towers. We then heard the quirky Slap Chips and a lovely ballad called Good Morning, which he wrote for his daughter. For an encore he played the aptly named You Asked For it.

Tony Cox has been entertaining for over 30 years. He is one of South Africa’s most renowned musicians and undoubtedly a world class guitarist. When he is in town again, don’t miss his concert. You won’t regret it. – Keith Millar