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Cape Town based band, Al Bairre, played their last show in Johannesburg at Large on the Lawn together with Mango Groove on 26 March.
Al Bairre, consisting of Nicholas Preen, Tessa and Julia Johnson, Kyle Davis and Tom Kotze, announced their split on 21 February after five years on the South African music scene. The band made an official statement posted on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, saying, “Having achieved all the goals we set for ourselves the last five years – we all feel like it’s the right time to try something new.” They included a list of their farewell shows in Johannesburg on 26 March, Cape Town on 2 April, and Stellenbosch on 4 April.
Their set at Large on the Lawn flowed beautifully between new songs and the classics that the fans knew off by heart. A few tears were shed by band members and the crowd during an emotional performance of “Let’s fall in love some more”.
The indie finger pop band combines cello, violin, drums, bass guitar, ukulele and keys to create an “ice cream of orchestral sounds.” They made waves in 2012 when they released a five-track EP titled When I was Tall featuring favourites such as “Solid gold” and “Right here in July”. Several songs from the EP were picked up by Australian radio stations and launched Al Bairre into the music industry.
In 2013 the band won the Open the City contest, which gave them the opportunity to open for international bands Alt-J, Skunk Anansie and The Hives at Vodacom In the City Joburg. From then on the band became a festival commodity, securing spots at Rocking the Daisies, Oppikoppi and Up the Creek. Their success brought with it nominations for the SAMAs, as well as award wins for best new comers and best budget music video at the 2014 MK Awards. 2015 marked the release of their most popular song, “Bungalow”. This was also the year that the band was invited, alongside South African artists Jeremy Loops and PHfat, to perform at The Great Escape music festival in the United Kingdom. On 23 November 2016 Al Bairre released a mini LP called Experience the Al Bairre Show with Al Bairre Experience. The mini LP, which is really a ‘best of’, included songs released in 2015 like “Julia” and old favourites. However, Al Bairre did not leave their fans empty-handed. The band released two brand new songs on 27 March.
Although the loss of this South African music treasure is heartbreaking, fans can rejoice in the knowledge that Al Bairre will have a reunion show in 10 years.
Image provided/Caroline Mackintosh.