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Saturday, January 18, 2020


(Rob Warren)

Rob Warren’s One-Man Show has one more performance tonight (January 18, 2020) at Rhumbelow Tina’s, Beryldene Road, Kloof.

Apparently Rob Warren, one of the founder members of Durban-based group The Black Lapels, has been wanting to do a solo show for a while, and there were no objections from the other band members, which shows their complete faith in his abilities. The band is well-known for their compilation shows presented mainly at the Rhumbelow Theatres in and around Durban, with standouts being their Johnny Cash and CCR tributes, and the band members, along with guest artists who have performed with them, were all present to support their front-line man on his opening night.

It obviously takes huge faith in one’s own abilities to want to stand up alone on stage and perform for an audience when one is normally backed by the excellent musicians that comprise The Black Lapels. Warren obviously has that faith, and is indeed a consummate performer in his own right. To some, creating a solo show could be seen as somewhat self-indulgent, but that is the nature of the beast.

Warren is a very skilled performer, however, and gave his audience two hours of music in an introspective journey through his musical career, including songs that have made an impact in his life or brought back memories, especially of his formative years. A very good friend of mine at our table said that the feel of the show reminded him of long-gone smoky nights in folk and blues clubs in Durban, such as The Totem, and (showing our age) I found myself agreeing with him.

There’s not really much point in detailing the play-list of the show, even though there was one, because Warren could – and did – change it at will. I suppose the only people affected by the changes were the sound and lighting crew, (and maybe those reviewing the show) but the technical people coped very well with Warren’s whims as the show progressed. If you’re thinking of attending the show – and you should – don’t take the songs he performed on opening night as a given, because they could change at any time.

While Warren shows us his vulnerable side with numbers like the Crowded House’s World Where You Live, Hurt (the last song recorded by Johnny Cash), Never Believe In Never, Sting’s It’s Probably Me and his own composition Danger, I believe he was at his best halfway through the second half when he let rip with his best numbers from the Johnny Cash tribute show – Man In Black, A Boy Named Sue, Ring of Fire and I Walk The Line. The Simon and Garfunkel classic Mrs Robinson popped up halfway through the sequence, but it tied in with the feel of the show at the time. So just as the show was building up to what I thought was going to be a rousing climax, next came the Crowded House number Nails In My Feet, which was a bit of a downer at that point. Fortunately, it got back on track with Johnny Clegg’s Scatterlings of Africa and ended with All or Nothing.

Well, it should have ended with All or Nothing, but with the family, friend and fan-based opening night audience screaming for more, Warren gave us an unplanned Message In A Bottle and Hotel California, which in my humble opinion, were not quite relevant encore numbers, even though Hotel California really demonstrated his guitar skills.

All in all, Rob Warren’s One-Man Show was very entertaining, but I believe that it could have done with a bit of professional direction, especially as regards the structure of the show and the theatricality thereof. In-jokes directed at family and friends should be avoided, as they tend to leave the rest of the audience in the dark, and the old adage “Always leave an audience shouting for more” should have been brought into play, rather than having him page through his songbook, searching for an encore. Minor quibbles aside, Warren has an obvious talent and is a skilled musician. Hats off to him for his first solo show. May he and The Black Lapels go from strength to strength.

Tonight’s performance is at 20h00. (The theatre venue opens 90 minutes before show for drinks) Tickets R160 (R140 pensioners and students with a valid student card) and tables seat 8. (No alcohol or food may be brought on to the premises). Tickets are cash or EFT only. Secure parking is available. Booking is through Computicket or contact Roland (also for large group booking discounts of 8 or more) on 082 499 8636 or email: or visit

(Patrons are welcome to book for dinner or lunch at Tina's Restaurant before the show: Call 031 764 7843 to book)

Tina’s Hotel is situated at 14 Beryldene Road in Kloof. – Barry Meehan

Rob Warren’s One-Man Show comes to Rhumbelow Durban in Umbilo from February 21 to 23, 2020.