Gig review: The Ides of March was a night of diversity, new beginnings, and good times for all.

Ides of March

“Beware the Ides of March” wrote Shakespeare in a play about the ill-fated Julius Caesar. Fast-forward to this past Friday and the only thing we had to beware of was the inevitable hang-over we’d all be feeling the next day. With Androgenius, Apollo, and Julia Robert lighting up the stage, Mercury Live played host to a night of diversity and debauchery.

Opening act Androgenius had a quiet confidence about them as they treated the gathering crowd to their unique mix of old school RnB, funk, jazz, hip hop, and soul. A concoction they call Soul Hop. Front-man Al Clapper was on top form as he moved around the stage with the certainty of a man living completely in the moment. His presence was mirrored by his band-mates and together they had the kind of on-stage chemistry that musicians dream about and that should make their single release on the 22nd of March an absolute treat.

For Apollo, the gig held a special significance. It marked the end of one era, as it was their drummer Daniel Nambassi’s final gig behind the kit with them, and the beginning of a new era as they became Son of Leto, and no that’s not a reference to Jared or Shannon Leto, but rather to the Greek Goddess Leto, mother of Apollo. Their set on Friday can only be described as four individuals finding each other’s groove and setting the stage on fire. The combination of flamboyant guitarist, live-wire front-man, chilled-out keyboardist, and so-stoked-with-life drummer created a performance fitting of that moment in their history.

And then it was Julia Robert’s turn to do their thing and they did it the only way they know how: with jokes, laughter, and a kick-ass performance. Their musicianship was impeccable and their rapport with the crowd was wonderful throughout as they made everyone feel as comfortable as old friends at a braai by the pool. The foursome’s disco-funk was nothing short of infectious and guaranteed that all eyes were on them, and that Mercury became the only place anybody wanted to be as we partied our way into Saturday morning.

While times may have changed the best parts of the Ides of March have lived on and they were embraced with abandon on Friday night. It was a night of drinking and dancing and living in the revelry of the moment, a middle-finger to anything and everything that doesn’t bring us happiness.

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Shade was thrown and tears were shed. Here’s what went down at last night’s Grammy Awards

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The Grammy Awards ceremony has always had its fair share of controversy, from the best rap artist category being introduced but not televised in 1989, to Recording Academy president Neil Portnow telling female artists they need to “step up” if they want to be recognised. This year’s ceremony was set for its own share of drama as the spotlight was on the Recording Academy’s rocky relationship with hip-hop and rap.

In the lead up to the ceremony Childish Gambino, who ended up winning Song of the Year for ‘This is America,’ Kendrick Lamar, and Drake all threatened to stay away from the event. Drake, however, did show up and while accepting the Best Rap Song award for ‘God’s Plan’ inadvertently, or perhaps deliberately, became the centre of the night’s drama. In his speech, that will be remembered for many years to come, the rapper said that winning a Grammy wasn’t the epitome of success in the industry and in the process had his mic switched off as the broadcast cut to a commercial.

That wasn’t the only talking point, though. After Portnow’s tasteless comments at last year’s ceremony there was a definite focus on women at the ceremony. Alicia Keys hosted this year’s event which included a surprise appearance from Michelle Obama as well as an all-star tribute to Dolly Parton. When all was said and done, out of the 17 performances that filled up the ceremony, only four of them were male. Women also featured heavily in the awards count with Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande, and St. Vincent among others taking home the golden gramophone.

In a moment of tenderness that would have brought tears to even the hardest of souls, the late Chris Cornell’s children Christopher and Toni accepted the award for Best Rock Performance for ‘When Bad Does Good,’ a posthumous release off ‘Chris Cornell’ which was compiled and released by the grunge icon’s wife Vicky Cornell. It was a beautiful moment that would surely have brought a smile to the face of one of the best vocalists the rock world has ever seen.

Lastly, the South African flag was flown high as the Soweto Gospel Choir won the Best World Music Album for the third time. They received the award for ‘Freedom,’ a collection of struggle songs they released last year as part of their 100 Years of Mandela Celebrations.