Gig Review: Le Voyage @ Arcade Empire

Cast your minds back some months ago (15 August 2013), and you will remember that I conducted an interview with the Pretoria-based trio Wim Jansen van Rensburg (Guitar; Vocals), Adriaan Cruywagen (Drums; Vocals) and Marco Smit (Bass; Vocals), who form the band Le Voyage. In the interview it was about discovering who the band were and what they were about – what they offer to the ever-expanding talent pool that we find in the Nation’s capital. What I did find out from that interview were the following:

  1. I will sound an utter idiot if I went ahead and said the band’s name in an English-the-shit-out-of-it” way (see interview);
  2. It was between the ages of 7 – 13 years that the guys realised that they were in love with music;
  3. All of the members of the band have “day jobs”;
  4. A highlight in their career thus far was when during a performance in Pretoria, Emile Swiegers (Die Tuindwergies) shredded a set with the band;
  5. Marco Smit is the resident Keith Moon of this trio; and
  6. They would ideally love to see more Gauteng venues and promoters who are willing to book bands and expose people to the talent out there.

I would say that I learnt quite a bit from our interview, and I wanted to learn more. So on Friday against the backdrop of a damp spring/ summer’s evening and having my brother-in-arms, Konrad Kruger, in toe, I made my way to what has become the destination venue for live music lovers and revelers of all shapes and marital statuses within the city, Arcade Empire. The evening was part of a greater cause from the good people of Capital Arts Revolution, but I was there to cover the performance of Le Voyage. I hadn’t heard much of the other acts to be honest, and it was to my great fortune that the band were the first to perform on the evening.

le voyage

By the time the band got on stage I was way past ready to see them in action. I know that an obsequious writer is never taken seriously in this industry, but there is something exhilarating in seeing local boys making a name for themselves in the highly competitive environment of “newness”. The dedicated support came in from the cold and before long there was some swaying and some nodding, although the crowd could hardly be called a massive one. I, though, had my drink in one hand, and with the other hand I wrote in my trusted notebook.

Opening the set, Wim’s vocals reminded me of Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker’s in how they came across powerfully and well-controlled but with the indication that they could readily be unleashed – if only Jarvis wore a bandana. He was well aware where he was, but more importantly where he wanted to take the audience – on a voyage.

I heard glimpses of the introspection witnessed in the sound of the Arctic Monkeys, and the easy-going nature of local perennial favourites aKING in their songs “Kings”, “We All Good” and “Choppy Rhythms”. Adriaan’s rapid fire drumming definitely set the pace for a lively performance. His energy on those drums was something to behold, and at times I could almost imagine him as a prizefighter who at the end of every round is asked by his corner to pace himself – alas to no avail. And then there was Marco on bass. Bassists are always seen as the quite and cool ones and just go about their business with little fuss and fanfare, and the same could be said of Marco. But if you paid enough attention to him you’d realise that he went about rhythmically matching Adriaan’s drums. And boy did he do it well. He had an intimate knowledge of his bass.

Nothing about the sounds that I was experiencing spoke of them being the “new kids on the block” and it became clear that their tenures served as members of other bands and projects had stood them in good stead for this very moment – for when they became Le Voyage. When their current single, making the rounds on radio stations like 5FM and campus radio stations, “Saw Her Come In” first rang out over the speakers it became obvious that we were witnessing a band that will become a household name and a regular fixture in the lexicon of festival regulars in the near future. Women danced and swooned, and guys couldn’t help but tap their feet and mouth the words to this increasingly popular song. Nobody hated the “mouthers” on this night because almost everyone was a mouther.

I was thoroughly impressed with their song “Ballad Hat”. I quickly turned to the person next to me and asked if he remembered that ballad-y Foo Fighters song. The poor guy just stood there wearing a look that simply asked in return, “Why ask me if you’re the music writer?” The song I was looking for at that moment was “Walking After You” taken from the band’s 1997 album “The Colour and the Shape. Even though at the time I didn’t get that particular Foo Fighters song, I quickly noted that the band’s song also reminded me of Zeppelin’s “The Rain Song”. But the song I had been searching for was from the former, and Ballad Hat, instantly reminded me of the Foo Fighters song. It was delicate and melodic. The song would be the perfect refrain for an intimate evening spent in the company of a very special person. You see these boys make love songs as well – or at the least songs to make love (or serious like) to.

“Right Back At You”, the band’s first single once again lifted the tempo and was followed by some newer material – “Cry For More” and “Fire It Up”. These two were the final two songs to a set that had me wondering why is this band not a regular feature on the line-ups of live music venues throughout the city and province. I could not come to a logical reason, or one that somebody like myself would be readily pleased with.

After the set I had a quick chinwag with the band: Wim, Marco and Adriaan and what I got from these incredibly humble guys was that they are trying to get as many shows under their belts, and working even harder to become a feature on the local music festival circuit. There is hope and determination, and the boys are not giving up in the face of rejected phone calls when they attempt to secure shows for themselves. But with the exposure garnered from the rotation that their single “Saw Her Come In”, I am certain that before long they will be having their pick of music festivals at which to perform.

I am certain we will be seeing and hearing more of Le Voyage, so here’s to yet another talented band that has been produced by the 012! I salute you!

If you want to keep up with Le Voyage, make sure to check out the following:






For bookings: E-mail

For Press: E-mail

Spread the word about this awesome Pretoria band! Feel free to share this article with your friends on Facebook and Twitter.

Watch this space for regular updates in the Music category on Running Wolf’s Rant.

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Menzi Hlongwa

Menzi Hlongwa

Music. Film. Art. Literature. Current Affairs. Culture. I document. Speak out of turn. Think. Engage. Offend. Witness.
Menzi Hlongwa

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