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Saturday, September 7, 2019


All powerful performers who give their all during this whirlwind two-hour show, and kept the audience thoroughly entertained. (Review by Barry Meehan)

Since its re-introduction at the Suncoast Casino, the Barnyard has staged some truly memorable shows, such as Big Top Rock, Rhythm of the Night and Celtic Rock. The latest offering is 101 Hits, which was certainly a crowd-pleaser on the night I attended.

The premise is to showcase 101 hits from the 60s to the modern era, and they get counted down on the big screen behind the performers – singers Lee Paver, Richard Kaldenberg and Marvin Nethononda (The Guys), Faith Nkosi and Caelee Vercuiel (The Girls), band members Vusi Maseko on keyboard, Dylan van der Linde on drums, Ralph Martin on lead guitar and Bongane Sokhela on bass – all of whom are powerful performers who give their all during this whirlwind two-hour show, and kept the audience thoroughly entertained.

That being said, I did have a problem with the format (and this is only my humble opinion) in that so many great songs come and go at lightning speed before one gets a chance to enjoy them. For example, when the iconic opening notes of Smoke on the Water ring out, there is instant audience recognition, but too soon the smoke dissipates, and before one realises, the show has moved on. When one looks at it mathematically, two hours is 120 minutes, which allows an average of just over a minute for each number, time for a verse and a chorus. Naturally enough, this is not adhered to rigidly, with some songs being longer, and some shorter. Some indeed are very short, like in the six-minute medley which showcases 20 songs (an average of 18 seconds per song!) Amongst the numbers in this medley are I Can’t Stop Believing, You’re Beautiful, I’m Yours, Where Is The Love, Forever Young, With or Without You, Baby I Love Your Way, Country Roads, Wake Me Up, One of Us, Beds are Burning, Africa, Land Down Under and It’s my Life, and several more, so if any of these are your favourites, be prepared to hear just a snatch of each.

 Be that as it may, the only true way to judge a show is on audience reaction, and the audience certainly reacted to 101 Hits, singing and clapping along with gusto when exhorted to do so by the cast, and loving every minute of the dance medley which comes late in the second half. Everyone was up on their feet twisting, doing the Locomotion, disco, the Time Warp, macarena, a bit of Gangnam and even line dancing to Cotton Eyed Joe!

The music purist might have a few problems with the way some numbers are delivered, such as the Simon and Garfunkel classic Cecilia and the iconic American Pie, as they get swallowed up in the overall driving beat and rhythms of the show, not being given the true emotions behind the originals. But then this show isn’t meant for the music purists. It’s designed for the audience to sit back, relax and have a good time as the show hurtles along at breakneck speed.

It would be wrong to single out any particular performances from the cast, as this is a true ensemble piece. The singers attack their numbers with gusto, whether as soloists or together as a group, and the band is tight and together, especially in their featured medleys without the vocalists, both of which occur in the second half of the show.

For me, the standout medley was the South African section, featuring songs such as Weekend Special, Impi, Shadows, Dance Sum More. Kaptein, Substitute, Shibobo, Waka Waka, Hamba Nawe and Nkalakatha, proving yet again that South African music can certainly hold its own against the best of the rest of the world.

101 Hits runs until October 20, 2019. Bookings on  – Barry Meehan