Whether it’s fate, the cosmos or just some huge enigma nobody can quite answer, there are some groups that are beloved, legendary icons in their homeland yet for some reason don’t quite make similar inroads internationally. In Canada you could probably say The Tragically Hip fit that bill and in South Africa, perhaps The Parlotones.
The South African group continues to grow a loyal following and this latest live CD/DVD combination will only assist in that effort (not to mention new studio album and a 3D rock opera they performed live a few weeks ago). Culled from a 2009 headlining show at the Coca Cola Dome in Johannesburg, the group hit the ground running with the chipper, sugary “Life Design” and equally bouncy “Only Human” resembling The Killers, particularly singer Kahn Morbee’s pipes comparable to Brandon Flowers. Don’t believe me? Listen to “Should We Fight Back” then and say otherwise!
With a hometown fan base belting out the tunes, this album is a strong, consistent overview of the band’s success, with big arena rock sing-along ballads like “Remember When” and the somber “I’ll Be There” with its Coldplay “Fix You” overtones. And while “Stars Fall Down” might be a tad wordy, the deliberately built number grows on the listener. Ditto for “Disappear Without A Trace” and its Snow Patrol-like vibe.
The Parlotones excel on the fantastic and tight “Bird in Flight” and the terribly melodic, uplifting “Sun Comes Out” as the audience provides harmonies. Throughout it all you’re hooked on the hooks, resulting in a band that should be known far wider than just South African ears.