Sadly I missed the first edition of Liefde by die Dam in 2016 but I was not going to make that mistake again this time around! As avid music lovers entered the gates, a pristine setting welcomed them: the abundance of nature at the iconic Emmarentia Dam, an enormous stage proudly boasting a giant South African flag and a bar filled to the brim with ice cold Red Bull!
The excitement was tangible and returning artist, Majozi, welcomed everyone’s ears to what was to be a pleasurable day. I was quite awestruck with him, since it was my first time seeing him live and he definitely did not disappoint! As people eagerly lay down their blankets and opened their woolies meatball packets, Jo Black made his much anticipated appearance. But it was not long before that anticipation died down. Jo Black is known for his success with singles such as “Skepe” and “Bring Die Hoop Weer Terug”, but I personally think that he is a better recording artist for now and with the talented musicians in his band, there is certainly room for some improvement. As a fan of JR, I was still underwhelmed. His performance never reached a peak and simply drowned on in the background. With many songs on the new Heuwels album featuring the hip-hop star, it still remains a mystery why he was absent from their performance. Never the less, the Red Bull kept flowing, the sun kept shining and the good times kept on rolling!
Rian van Heerden (Jacaranda FM) had the crowd in stitch with his quick quips in between performances. A wave of energy washed over the crowd as Riana Nel treated us to a flawless performance. Hit after hit flew by and the showstopper was the moment when she let loose with “Ironic” by Alanis Morissette. In an instant we were back in 1995 singing along to every word! By this time the gin and vodka had run out so most people where parched as we head into the heat of the day...
Guitar virtuoso, Loki Rothman, took the stage beside the biggest legend of them all, Laurika Rauch. Just thinking of her performance, still gives me goose bumps! The crowd embraced the duo by singing along to every word. How can you not! With classics like “Kinders van die wind”, “Stuur Groete aan Mannetjies Roux” and “Blou” we were in awe of the humility that went along with the performance. It is a terrifying task to follow such a performance but Tresor gave it his all. His groovy rhythms delivered the perfect dance along performance for the sunny Sunday.
As Die Gevaar set their gear up, Barney Simon caused an even greater uproar while introducing Francois van Coke. Everyone leapt to the front for this South African rock legend (and as per usual). All the usual stage dives, jumps, screams, shoe flingins and more ensued as Van Coke brought the house down. Fans have come to know and expect a certain level of quality with a FvC performance and they certainly got their money's worth. Fellow Fokofpolisiekar member, Hunter Kennedy, joined on stage for “Ek Skyn(heilig)” as an added little treat. His setlist was just legendary, filled with old and new hits and he ended his set in a fitting way, by covering “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)” by Beastie Boys. And party we did!
Organisers of this family friendly event saved the best for last and the headlining act, Die Heuwels Fantasties, made sure that Liefde by die Dam 2017 would be memorable for all. Although it felt as if their set was short, they pleased the crowd with “Beloofde Land”, “Klein Tambotieboom”, and “Ballade vir ‘n Enkeling” to name but a few. By now, it was darker and the stage lighting was phenomal. The crowd shouted “Leja” and “SY” and after a quick band meeting on stage, they gave the crowd what they wanted – they obviously LOVE their fans and the Emmarentia Dam! They also added “Bietjie Hoop”, that has been newly released on YouTube and from their latest album, OKAY!, to the setlist. But it was not over yet, and after Pierre Greef (lead singer and co-coordinator of the event) popped a champagne bottle to celebrate the day, Francois van Coke joined the band on stage for “Sonrotse”. Van Coke, Fokofpolisiekar and Die Heuwels fans somehow managed to have flip flops left to pass around! And in true Heuwels fashion, they ended the day off with their biggest hit, "Pille vir Kersfees".
As I left the grounds, I saw all the blankets that people donated to the Liefde Wen initiative and it reflected the heart that South Africans still have when music unites them. It would have been show stopping if Die Heuwels Fantasties could have performed the colab songs with all of the featuring artists of the day, since they did collaborations with most of them. However and all in all, it was one unforgettable day and hopefully we will all be treated with Liefde by die Dam 2018!