Category: Set Lists

Rodriguez and Big Sky live at The Blues Room, 17 & 18 June 1998

15 years ago, today, Rodriguez performed at The Blues Room in Johannesburg to launch the Live Fact album. This album was recorded on the 10th March 1998 on the Cold Facts tour of South Africa which features strongly in the Searching For Sugar Man film.

Musicians

Sixto Rodriguez: Vocals, acoustic guitar
Willem Möller: Electric Guitar
Reuben Samuels: Drums, percussion
Graeme Currie: Electric bass, acoustic bass
Tonia Selley: Background vocals, percussion
Russel Taylor: Keyboards
Robin Walsh: Acoustic guitar

Willem Möller and Rodriguez | photo: Nadine Hutton

Willem Möller and Rodriguez | photo: Nadine Hutton

The Set list

  1. I Wonder
    from Cold Fact
  2. Only Good For Conversation
    from Cold Fact
  3. Can’t Get Away only on 17th
    from The Best Of Rodriguez / At His Best
  4. Crucify Your Mind
    from Cold Fact
  5. Jane S. Piddy only on 17th
    from Cold Fact
  6. To Whom It May Concern
    from Coming From Reality / After The Fact
  7. Like Janis
    from Cold Fact
  8. Inner City Blues
    from Cold Fact
  9. Street Boy
    from The Best Of Rodriguez / At His Best
  10. Halfway Up The Stairs
    from Coming From Reality / After The Fact
  11. I Think Of You
    from Coming From Reality / After The Fact
  12. Rich Folks Hoax
    from Cold Fact
  13. Climb Up On My Music
    from Coming From Reality / After The Fact
  14. Sugar Man
    from Cold Fact
  15. Forget It
    from Cold Fact

13th March The Village Green Durban

The Set List

  1. I Wonder
  2. Only Good For Conversation
  3. Can’t Get Away
  4. Crucify Your Mind
  5. Jane S. Piddy
  6. To Whom It May Concern
  7. Like Janis
  8. Inner City Blues
  9. Street Boy
  10. A Most Disgusting Song
  11. Halfway Up The Stairs
  12. I Think Of You
  13. Rich Folks Hoax
  14. Climb Up On My Music

    Encores:

  15. Sugar Man
  16. Establishment Blues
  17. Forget It

I attended the Durban gig. It was amazing! I am 17 and was introduced to Rodriguez by the Brother. Rodriguez’s music has changed the way I look at music, life and poetry (he is a poet!)
– Darren Wood, March 1998

11th March The Carousel Pretoria

The Set List

  1. I Wonder
  2. Only Good For Conversation
  3. Can’t Get Away
  4. Crucify Your Mind
  5. Jane S. Piddy
  6. To Whom It May Concern
  7. Like Janis
  8. Inner City Blues
  9. Street Boy
  10. A Most Disgusting Song
  11. Halfway Up The Stairs
  12. I Think Of You
  13. Rich Folks Hoax
  14. Climb Up On My Music
    Encores:
  15. Sugar Man
  16. Establishment Blues
  17. Forget It

A Night To Remember

Review by Michelle (Micci) de Clerqc

You ain’t seen nothing yet… Rodriguez is NOT dead…he is very much alive and still the same inspiring poet he always was. On the 11th of March the man himself performed at the Carousel just outside of Pretoria – he is a brilliant artist and a humble man. Rodriguez, alive and performing in South Africa ? I cried when I heard this over the radio. I was broke and I HAD to see the show. So, I climbed on my phone and spoke to my mother, she and my sister decided that since it was so close to my birthday, they would buy me the tickets. This brought the smile back to my face.. So there I was on the 11th of March, broken ankle and all, on my way to the Carousel. Upon arrival, there was this huge tent and I thought that that’s gotta be it. When I went inside I was pleasantly surprised by the huge amount of people that were waiting for their “Sugarman”. There were people from all ages, even a little girl who sat right in front of me – I think she was 10 years old, next to her was a guy of about 55 and there I was, 22 going on 23, waiting for a life long hero.

Rodriguez walked onto stage and started singing “I Wonder”, the crowd went wild! It looked like it was so easy for him to sing, it was so natural, as if he just opened his mouth and the words flowed out like a calming river over his fans. Everyone jumped to their feet and cheered harder and with more feeling than they would for their favourite rugby team. He just smiled and kept on singing. Some of the people screamed, others just sat mesmerized, captivated by the words, the music and the man. Between songs his name was called like a mantra, no one was quiet; he gave all the credit to the band.

He bent down to touch the audience, as if to make sure that they were real. The songs were known off by heart by the audience and most of them sang along to old favourites like “Sugar Man”, “Like Janis” and “I Wonder”. He had captivated everyone with his down to earth manner and honesty. It was a night to remember and memory I will treasure forever.

10th March Standard Bank Arena Johanneburg

The Set List

  1. I Wonder
  2. Only Good For Conversation
  3. Can’t Get Away
  4. Crucify Your Mind
  5. Jane S. Piddy
  6. To Whom It May Concern
  7. Like Janis
  8. Inner City Blues
  9. Street Boy
  10. A Most Disgusting Song
  11. Halfway Up The Stairs
  12. I Think Of You
  13. Rich Folks Hoax
  14. Climb Up On My Music
    Encores:
  15. Sugar Man
  16. Establishment Blues
  17. Forget It
Ellis Park Sold Out

Ellis Park Sold Out

Long Live Rodriguez

Review by André Bakkes

At last Rodriguez arrived and I was going to see a show by the Man.  It was with a bit of uncertainty that I went to the show. I wanted to go, but I also didn’t want to go. The thing that struck me was how mellow the people were, there was no pushing at the doors to get in, there was a nice steady flow into the arena. People from all walks of life were there. In the audience I saw serious new wave ravers (the one’s who cut their hair except for a little lock on the front of the hairline), also there were old guys with bald heads. I could not believe that Rodriguez had such a wide spectrum of followers.

When he came on the crowd went wild. The same type of reaction as at recent, very well known bands concerts. As the songs were sung the people sang with him and they vibed to the sounds and the music.  The jazzing up of “Climb up on my Music” was brilliant and could do well as a mix for the dance floor. It seems that Rodriguez is such a NICE person he would rather give limelight to his support band than hog it himself. He came across as an absolute gentleman and unaffected by the hype. My overwhelming feeling as I left the concert was one of peace and fulfillment,  here was a person whose music stood the test of time and was honestly grateful that we paid money to see him perform.

Long live Rodriguez!! I hope you do very well.

9th March 1998 Standard Bank Arena Johannesburg

The Set List

  1. I Wonder
  2. Only Good For Conversation
  3. Can’t Get Away
  4. Crucify Your Mind
  5. Jane S. Piddy
  6. To Whom It May Concern
  7. Like Janis
  8. Inner City Blues
  9. Street Boy
  10. A Most Disgusting Song
  11. Halfway Up The Stairs
  12. I Think Of You
  13. Rich Folks Hoax
  14. Climb Up On My Music
    Encores:
  15. Sugar Man
  16. Establishment Blues
  17. Forget It

The Star Tonight 12 March 1998

Time and time again

by Peter Feldman

The legend that is Rodriguez simply couldn’t believe his eyes or his ears at the fanatical response he evoked at his opening Johannesburg concert on Monday. I don’t know who was more awestruck, the performer or his capacity audience. He couldn’t stop grinning. The minute he stepped onstage, in a smart dress-suit and clutching his guitar, the arena exploded. And as he casually strummed the opening bars to I Wonder, the crowd rose to their feet in sheer adoration. It was a magical moment in music, and an eerie kind of a time-warp, in which this folk-rock icon rekindled a string of memories of an age of stirring protest. The songs have not dated and have as much relevance today as they did when Vietnam, the draft and campus drugs were high on the political agenda.

Young people, many not yet born when Rodriguez stormed the barriers in South Africa, one of the few countries to embrace the man and his music, sat transfixed as the hits unfolded. The voice has not been corroded by time – only made better. The hardcore cynicism, the angst and the disillusionment remain dramatically intact. Sugar Man, Inner City Blues, Cnrcify Your Mind, Jane S Piddy, the highly emotive Street Boy, Rich Folks Hoax, Slip Away and Establishment Blues formed the core of a concert nobody ever dreamt would actually happen here in Gauteng. After all, the rumour was the man was dead … how wrong could one be. Rodriguez was so delighted to be onstage, and so overwhelmed by the occasion, that he kept asking for the house lights to be turned up to remind himself it was not an illusion. He also took great delight in shaking hands with various members of Big Sky, which gave him solid support throughout.

Big Sky, with an energetic Steve Louw at the helm, provided a tight set with a nicely honed country-rock edge. They waded through many of their hits, including Waiting For The Dawn, Another Country and Get Down With Mr Green, and introduced the right mood for a happening.

Wow!

7th March 1998 Bellville Velodrome Cape Town

The Set List

  1. I Wonder
  2. Only Good For Conversation
  3. Can’t Get Away
  4. Crucify Your Mind
  5. Jane S. Piddy
  6. To Whom It May Concern
  7. Like Janis
  8. Inner City Blues
  9. Street Boy
  10. A Most Disgusting Song
  11. I’ll Slip Away
  12. Halfway Up The Stairs
  13. I Think Of You
  14. Rich Folks Hoax
  15. Climb Up On My Music

    Encores:

  16. Sugar Man
  17. Establishment Blues
  18. Forget It

Scan of the sound engineer’s set list, dated and autographed.

Set List 7 March 1998

From Sweet Songs To Street Songs

Review by Brian Currin

From the simplistic, yet instantly recognisable bass guitar intro of I Wonder, to the last fading echoes of Thanks For Your Time, this was a show that enthralled everyone from the die-hard old fans with their balding heads and beer paunches to the new virgin devotees.

From sweet songs to street songs,
from bitter to beautiful,
from minor keys to metal mayhem,
from tear-jerker to tear-it-up,
from disgusting songs to rock anthems…this was truly a magic show of vast proportions.

Rodriguez has not released new material in over 25 years, he has no chart-topping singles, yet he opens to a standing ovation – and everybody sings along to all the songs.

Colin Taylor from KFM radio opened the show by shouting with great enthusiasm:
“Cape Town, put your hands together and welcome a true legend on stage – Rodriguez!”

Reuben Samuels started a slow drum beat and when Graeme Currie introduced that classic bass line (de-de de-de de-dum) the crowd went wild in instant recognition and when The Man slipped quietly onto the stage, the Velodrome stood up in adoration for this long-lost legend. I Wonder was wonderful and after the song, Rodriguez just stood and stared at the audience in awe.

Only Good For Conversation was done hard and heavy with great guitar from Willem Möller.
“..you’re so proper and so cute” sang Rodriguez with a smile in his voice.

Can’t Get Away was superb and when he started to sing the second verse again by mistake, the band supported him and the audience forgave him.

All the favourites followed with the arrangements staying very close to the originals and the crowd hanging on every word. Tonia Selley from The Pressure Cookies and Big Sky provided superb backing vocals throughout.

A highlight was the solo rendition of “A Most Digusting Song” sung with great humour. “There’s someone here who’s almost a virgin I’m told” was met with much laughter.
And when he sang “…your government will provide the shrugs” a responsive chord was hit, even though this song was written in 1970!

Rodriguez doesn’t say much, he lets his music and words speak to us, but he did give us one message:

I want to wish you the best of luck
in everything you do,
you’re gonna do it,
you’re gonna solve it,
you’re gonna heal ’em,
you’re gonna do it

– perceptive and profound words from this poet and prophet.

And then into an absolutely incredible blues-rock version of Climb Up On My Music. Willem Möller burnt up his fretboard with a classic rock guitar solo and Russel Taylor played a jazzy-blues keyboard solo which left us breathless.

Rodriguez slipped away as the band ended the song, but soon returned to perform a 3-song encore starting with Sugar Man, then Establishment Blues and ending with the perfect show-closer Forget It with those poignant words “Thanks for your time“.

Thank you, Cape Town” sang Rodriguez.

No, thank YOU, Rodriguez – the mystery and myth may be gone, but the music and memories will live forever and the magic of that night will stay with us always.

6th March 1998 Bellville Velodrome Cape Town

  1. I Wonder
  2. Only Good For Conversation
  3. Can’t Get Away
  4. Crucify Your Mind
  5. Jane S. Piddy
  6. To Whom It May Concern
  7. Like Janis
  8. Inner City Blues
  9. Street Boy
  10. Halfway Up The Stairs
  11. I Think Of You
  12. Rich Folks Hoax
  13. Climb Up On My Music

    Encores:

  14. Sugar Man
  15. Establishment Blues
  16. Forget It

Here is a scan of the planned set list from the sound engineer’s mixing desk; compare this to what was actually played!

Set List 6 March 1998

Sunday Argus 8 March 1998

Rodriguez Live in Bellville
(reprinted here with kind permission of Evan Milton)

70s (and 80s and, it seems 90s) folk-rock “icon” Sixto Rodriguez played his first South African performance live at the Bellville Velodrome on Friday, 6 March 1998.
Evan Milton was there.

“He’s really alive!” were the words on more than one nostalgic fan’s lips as a crowd of over 2 000 listened to Rodriguez’s first ever live performance in South Africa – and his first appearance on stage in 18 years. The “Sugar Man” enthralled from the first, instantly recognisable, notes of “I Wonder” through to the much requested and long-awaited “The Establishment Blues”. South African Music Association “Best Album” winners Big Sky ably supported the visitor, with Willem Möller’s electric guitar providing a focus during the simpler musical songs, with Russel Taylor’s hammond and Graeme Currie’s bass underpinning the set. Rodriguez was visibly moved by the audience’s enthusiastic response, chanting his name between every song, and with a round of applause and calls of “Rodriguez we love you” following each song.

The Mexican American revealed a refreshingly contrasting “superstar attitude” to other recent international visitors, repeatedly bowing and thanking both band and audience. At one point the singer called for silence, in his unmistakable voice said, “A picture” and stepped back, miming the action of taking a huge snapshot of his fans. Ranging in age from 16 to 50-plus, those fans sang along to most tunes, with nostalgia and youthful idealism in equal measure as the older remembered their upstart 70s youth and the younger drew on the libertarian lyrics and social commentary as idealistic focus inspiration. Finishing the one-and-a-half hour set, Rodriguez was briefly visible on a parapet leading to the dressing rooms, and waved a final farewell to the ecstatic crowd. After the concert, he shook hands with, and personally thanked the hundred-or-so VIP guests, eagerly and animatedly signing autographs, engaging with stories of when and where people had listened to his albums and impressing everyone with his warmth and sincerity. Many left the concert with plans to purchase a second ticket for Saturday night’s performance.

This review was also published with a few changes in the Sunday Argus on the 8th March 1998 under the title: “Sugar Man” Rodriguez sings it to adoring crowd.

Cape Review April 1998

Cape Review, April 1998

Hail Sixto Rodriguez!

“Hey I thought this guy was dead?”
by Kitty Couzyn

It’s one of those Fridays. You know the ones; tickets and invites abound, but all a poor journalist feels like is slipping down a pool cue into a coma some where. Mr Branson’s Virgin Cola launch on Wednesday still monkeys the brain (The Sandton Sun will never be the same again… yuk yuk – those little red canned Virgins with a twist of V-vodka thrown in. shudder). Ah, what the hell, it is after all the Rodriguez concert I’ve been invited to. Time to scrape the carcass into the volkswagen and speed off in the same direction as Zaire. Finally, after finding directions from a toothless garage attendant that assuredly I’ve seen speaking backwards in a Lynch movie, screech to a halt outside the Bellville Velodrome. It’s always heartwarming to see how the local constabulary selflessly protect us at big concerts. (It’s like the annual Big-Blue-Braai out here). Judging by all the rumour and heresay I’d heard this concert was either going to a significant moment or a vaguely embarrassing spectacle. Didn’t this guy shoot himself in the head on stage to protest the general dullness of life when I was about seventeen? Didn’t Agent Mulder discover proof that Nancy Reagan had abducted his father? After eventually wheedling my way into the VIP section for free booze, I witnessed a story that could unfold into an epic fable:
They found him serving petrol in a garage in South America”
“No it was America.”
“Isn’t it amazing that this guy was only famous in Australia, New Zealand and SA”
“You’re kidding? I always thought He was a god in America!”
“Nah, his record company went bust before he was distributed.”
A PR company couldn’t have created a better angle if they had been on Peyote and Prozac simultaneously. We were about to watch a man perform for the first time in about twenty years. I met the SA journalist who had tracked him down and asked him how he was doing. “Well the truth of the matter is that he’s got severe stage fright. We’re just calming him down.”

As the crowd waited and the news of his shyness filtered out to the four thousand odd devotees, a chant begun. Rodriguez! Rodriguez! Rodriguez! We were all gently encouraging the dude that virtually defined our hey-shoo-wow contemplate-the-universe and overindulge-in-giggle-twig-years. Finally there he was. The Bob Dylan of the Southern Hemisphere, the green poet of our generation. The deliciously anti-establishment prophet of the grey-pit in which we currently reside.He’s dressed in a tie, black shirt and squiggly-print waist coat like some caricatured spaghetti-western version of a coke-dealer.
“That’s funny, he’s actually the age now that I’ve always expected him to be”
In most of our minds he was the dude from the Cold Fact album cover. There he looked like some big bad-ass Indian oil-rig worker. The sweet man with the Donny Osmond shades and ingriating smile was not who we expected. It was impossible not to pick up the sheer bewilderment on his face. It was like:
“Hey esse! Who da fok all these people shouting fo?”
Then began the singing. There it was, that golden voice. After twenty years, like it was mellowed in casks of oak – if anything, more rich and golden. The only way to describe the tidal wave of emotion that erupted is with gratuitous exploitation of expletives and superlatives. Unbelievable! Awesome! Shivers up a thousand spines! One of, if not the best concerts ever in Cape Town. Everyone, knew every word. No, you don’t understand. Every! Word! At one point, the man faltered on a verse and the crowd calmly kept on singing, lifting him back onto the melody like a nurturing mother on the day of her baby’s first steps. What made the whole scene specially touching was the transparency of his true amazement. Imagine going to an obscure country that you’ve never seen before, just to find there are thousands of people who still adore you, for songs you sung in your youth. He was literally a resurrected angel for two mightily special hours. The encore would have gone on all night if they had been allowed to.

At the after-party, the buzz was just soooo infectious. He signed autographs and graciously met all those who wanted to shake his hand. I am Twenty-seven and like to think of myself as beyond the sycophantic irritation stage. But this I had to be part of. Everyone in that room had dreams of Rodriguez taking over America – a resurrection supreme. Some sadly doubted the reality, I for one believe wholeheartedly that Rodriguez could storm the Grammies in 1999.
If we have anything to do with it, he will.
Thank you Mr R, we’ll never forget you,
Now give us your sunglasses!