When Francois van Coke’s name pops up anywhere, words like “icon”, “idol” and “mega star” are often voiced, but paired with that, words like “humble”, “down-to-earth” and “genuine” also surface. Because that’s the thing about this guy. He used to be a struggling rocker from Bellville, who achieved amazing success through hard work and a pinch of luck. But I bet that 16-year old laaitie would never have dreamt of selling out Times Square’s Sun Arena a few days before his 38th birthday.
The much-anticipated Francois van Coke en Vriende show raced by way too fast. It was momentous to say the least. Just the idea of an Afrikaans rock artist selling out such a big venue (accommodating 8 500 people to be exact) is enough to let any head spin. Francois and his amazing organisational team (with Andy Mac and Wynand Myburgh taking the steer) had a precise idea in mind with the show’s creation and they executed everything to the tee.
Massive visual panels illuminated and lights started flashing and it was clear the show was going to pack a punch right from the start. Very fittingly, Die Gevaar (Sheldon Yoko, Richard Onraet, Dolf Willemse and Jedd Kossew) started the show off with Francois, performing ‘Moontlik Nooit’ and ‘My Hart’ back-to-back. The guys were dressed to impress in seemingly matching tailored suits. It was evident to hear and see that Francois was nervous and taken by how big this moment really was. One would think that he performs too often to ever get tense, but this was a different story and the crowd carried him through it.
Francois welcomed Laudo Liebenberg, front man of aKING, to stage first to perform their collab, ‘Die Skip’, followed by a premier their latest collab single, ‘Spaar My Asseblief’. Francois has calmed down at this point and it was clear he was set on performing the best show of his life. One by one more guests (a.k.a buddies/homies/brothers/musical soul mates) followed and it’s tough choosing best moments, because every collab artist offered something unique.
Die Heuwels Fantasties had the crowd reliving the good ol’ days with ‘Sonrotse’. Coenie de Villiers was most likely the least obvious choice for guests on the night, yet arguably had the best guest appearance of the night, performing a goose bump rendition of Johannes Kerkorrel’s ‘Hillbrow’ with Francois. Who would’ve imagined how well these two males’ voices blend and complement one another?
There was barely time to pack away tissues after that beautiful piano moment, because the Van Coke Kartel reunion was next up for a few power tunes. ‘Tot Die Son Uitkom’ has never sounded so good. Why? Karen Zoid joined Francois, Wynand, Jedd and Jason on stage, adding her usual musical antics. Things toned down thereafter with a stripped down version of ‘Dit Raak Beter’. Majozi popped in, joining Francois for a Beatles cover of ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’, where after the Arena became a lighter-heaven with Majozi belting out ‘Darling’.
One of Francois’s idols as a teen, Arno Carstens, joined next. Nostalgia meets rock mania. Their collab, ‘Ek Weet Nie’, is followed by the iconic, ‘Blue Eyes’. The moment is just too perfect. And once again, seamlessly, the show moves from tear-jerking to move-and-shake, as Early B takes the stage. Is there anything that this little guy cannot do? He is just so effortlessly cool, performing ‘Altyd Lief Vir Jou’ with Francois, from the show-titled EP. This track has darker undertones, which is a little out of sorts for Early B, yet he kills it. A surprising cover of Beastie Boys’s ‘Fight For Your Right’ gets the crowd grooving. Jack Parow continues where EarlyB left off and the party hits, ‘Dans Dans Dans’ and ‘Hard Partytjie Hou’, concludes in a joint stage dive with Francois that had the crowd going wild.
Johnny de Ridder took a seat behind the piano for the hauntingly beautiful ‘Komma’, where after the entire Fokofpolisiekar clan joined for a few of their rock ‘n roll hits. Then Karen Zoid took for a glorious predictable last song, ‘Toe Vind Ek Jou’. But wait…there was more. The encore song, ‘Ek Lewe, Ek Belowe’, featuring Die Heuwels Fantasties, had the crowd yearning for more. But that’s it. One last historic bow from Francois and his friends and the night was over.
The night flashed by and there was barely time to blink. You simply didn’t want to miss a thing, because every song, light and visual was perfectly placed. I think it’s safe to say Francois van Coke has made it.