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Sunday, April 21, 2019


(Barry Thomson. Pic courtesy of Val Bottomley)

Local talent needs to be nurtured and supported, and a glimpse into Barry’s life such as Times Like These needs to be seen and appreciated by all music fans. (Review by Barry Meehan)

Just when you’re beginning to think you’ve seen it all as far as the local entertainment scene is concerned, and are beginning to become a touch jaded, along comes something completely different in the form of maestro Barry Thomson’s new one-man acoustic guitar show Times Like These.

It’s a show of two distinct halves, the first half an introspective look at Barry’s life, and the second excerpts from The Reals’ tribute shows. Some will enjoy the second half more, but I found the first half quite fascinating as local legend Barry takes us on a musical journey with lesser-known songs that best sum up his journey from early years to where he is today – a man who is completely at home and more than comfortable in his own skin, always trying to find positives in the negatives that surround us.

It’s an intensely personal show, but never self-indulgent. Barry’s laid-back, self-effacing and charming presence fills the Rhumbelow stage with an intimate warmth. We might as well be in his lounge at a jam session as he kicks off with the title track – Jack Johnson’s Times Like These, then goes into Walt Grace’s Submarine Test (John Mayer), a quirky little number which proves it’s never too late to change your life completely.

More great numbers from the first half include a superb rendition of Neil Young’s Harvest Moon (with the aid of a loop box, allowing him a brilliant harmonica interlude), the Bob Dylan classic Forever Young, Barry’s own composition Take it in my Stride, Tom Petty’s Learning to Fly (with audience participation) and I Won’t Back Down. Next up is You Bring out the Boogie in Me, a great blues number originally written by Sonny and Brownie. Never heard of them? Neither had I, but I was more than happy to be introduced to their music. The half ends – too soon, in my humble opinion – with Upbeat Feel Good from Irish singer Foy Vance. What can one say about this number? Well, it’s upbeat, and it makes you feel good – what more can anyone want?

As previously mentioned, the second half is made up of songs from previous Reals’ shows, all of them given a totally new feel with some amazing guitar work on Barry’s four acoustic guitars. Look out for Mad World and Shout from the show Poetry In Motion, Fleetwood Mac’s Never Going Back Again, two exceptional numbers from Dire Straits – The Bug (“sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug”) and the moving Romeo and Juliet. Barry then moves on to their Hot August Night sell-out show with a Neil Diamond classic I Am, I Said, a number which he says “could have been written about him – but wasn’t” (look up the lyrics and you’ll see what he means!) Eagles classics follow – Desperado and Take It Easy, then we get a glimpse of what is to come to the Rhumbelow Theatres in May – The Travelling Wilburys’ It’s All Right (The End of The Line). Thrown in for good measure is the ELO classic Hold on Tight to your Dreams, and the show ends with an Irish farewell.

We Durbanites should count ourselves truly blessed that Barry has not followed the commercial success route and taken off for greener pastures. Local talent needs to be nurtured and supported, and a glimpse into Barry’s life such as Times Like These needs to be seen and appreciated by all music fans.

Unfortunately the only remaining performance of Times Like These is at 14h00 today Sunday (April 21), but the show will then be staged from April 26 to 28 at the Rhumbelow Theatre branch at Tina’s Hotel in Beryldene Road, Kloof.

Tickets cost R150 each (R130 for pensioners). To book or for more information visit Computicket or phone Roland Stansell at 082 499 8636. - Barry Meehan