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Johnny Clegg: The white Zulu comes to Tucson

Johnny Clegg live in concert


South African music activist, Johnny Clegg, brought his informative, exciting show to Tucson, AZ, May 7, 2014 at the Fox Theatre. Mr. Clegg also has the distinction of being an anthropologist and uses this accomplishment during his shows.

Johnny Clegg
©Mary F. Andrews
Johnny Clegg thrills the audience at the Fox Theatre
© M F Andrews

Jesse Clegg, Johnny’s son, opened the show for his father. Jesse is a rock singer and songwriter within his own right. He did an outstanding unplugged set that included songs from his albums, “Life On Mars” and “When I Wake Up.” His music style is very different from his father. Jesse shared with the audience that he is very introverted normally and he had to become very extroverted for his performances. He has accomplished his extroversion very well. For more information on Jesse Clegg, click here.

Mr. Clegg was born in the UK and his family moved to South Africa when he was young. Johnny Clegg, as a young man, taught at a university in Johannesburg. He became highly influenced by the social politics at that time and started blending this in his shows.

It was clear from the first song, “Warsaw,” the audience was excited to see this international star and hero. The crowd was up on their feet, dancing and cheering. There, they stayed and danced through the whole show. The age range of the concert attendees was surprising. All ages were represented from eight to eighty and many younger people. They were from every demographic group as well.

Johnny Clegg’s show gave us snippets of his career history as well as African history. He is particularly invested in Zulu history and dance. He must have been a fascinating teacher because he could simplify these subjects so that all could understand and enjoy the stories. He explained how the various Zulu kicks work for the contexts in which they were danced and he demonstrated these kicks.

The encore included “Asimbonanga,” a song that was written about Nelson Mandela while he was still in prison and at a time when it was forbidden to talk about Nelson Mandela. At this point in the show, Johnny Clegg introduced his musical team: Andy Innes (Guitar and Vocals), Mandisa Dlanga (Vocals) Trevor Donjeany (Bass Guitar and Vocals), Barry van Zyl (Drums), Brendan Ross (Keyboards and Sax) and Bongani Masuku (Vocals). This was a very entertaining, satisfying show. For more information on Johnny Clegg, click here. For the set list, click here.

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