Live Gallery: Karen Zoid in Sydney 17.03.2024

Karen Zoid

South African singer Karen Zoid is a groundbreaking artist who has made a significant impact on the music scene with her unique blend of rock, folk, and blues. With her powerful voice and emotive lyrics, she has become a symbol of resilience and innovation in the industry. Karen’s ability to transcend cultural and linguistic barriers with her music has earned her a diverse fan base, and her willingness to address social and political issues in her songs has solidified her status as a voice of her generation. Her collaborations with other artists and her role as a mentor on television shows have further demonstrated her commitment to nurturing talent and pushing the boundaries of what is possible in South African music.

Karen Zoid’s latest album ‘Humanoid’ marked her tenth studio release and showcased her continued evolution as an artist. On this album, Zoid collaborated with US-based futurist Faith Popcorn and explored new thematic territory, intertwining her rock sensibilities with futuristic concepts.

Tonight Zoid, together with another well-known South African artist, Nataniël is playing Sydney for the first time. The show sold out a couple of weeks ago, as did the other dates on this short tour of Australia and New Zealand. Zoid is supported by her longtime collaborator Henry Steel and her son, Ben Francis.

The air is charged with anticipation in the crowd of expat South Africans who have gathered for tonight’s performance. Hornsby RSL is set up cabaret style with the audience seated at tables. As the lights dim and the first chords are struck, the crowd unites in a moment of collective joy. Zoid kicks off with the ‘Toe Vind Ek Jou’ the duet that she recorded with Francois van Coke of the band fokofpolisiekar. Zoid goes into the crowd during the song and someone offers her a beer, lucky for Karen no one asks her to do a “shoey”.

Next follows an hilarious monologue in which Zoid talks about Afrikaans families – their WhatsApp groups and their matriarchs. She and Steel then swing into Metallica’s ‘Enter Sandman’ which morphs into an Afrikaans song and the back into ‘Nothing Else Matters’. During these songs, played entirely on acoustic guitars, Zoid’s rock credentials are on display and I find myself wishing for another tour, but with a full band.

With each song, she weaves a tapestry of nostalgia and heartfelt emotion, her voice a bridge connecting the audience to cherished memories and unspoken feelings. The crowd is captivated, transported on a journey through the highs and lows of life, all while being cradled in the familiar embrace of Zoid’s evocative storytelling. She tells us about her belief that failure is a great gift and to not be afraid of experimentation. Her son, Ben comes onstage for a few songs, including one that they wrote together during the double jeopardy of covid lockdowns and power shedding that has become quite commonplace in South Africa these days. She makes a joke about how the audience should not forget to sign in and out of the RSL and I am reminded of Pink, the American star who was recently barred from entering a skiff club in Manly.

When she plays ‘Afrikaners is Plesierig’ the crowd is on its feet swaying along to this, her breakout hit. Zoid has the unique ability to entertain with not only her musical skills, but also to delight the audience with her humour-filled anecdotes. Fingers crossed for a return with a full band!

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