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Pirate Music

Pirate Music

by Roger Young, images by Kevin Goss-Ross / 30.04.2010

I suppose being a music “journalist” I should have known who Mr. Cat & The Jackal are, but you know, people keep using pirate similes when talking about them so I presumed they were just another Avontoer “Searover” band. In fact, ever since Facebook has made Pirate a language I’ve been against the concept of pirates in general, I mean, the concept of pirates has totally sold out, man.

Travel weary and new in town, Mr. Cat and the Jackal have the task of facing off a small, punkesque crowd at The Winston as their welcome to Durban. The sound is muddy, we can hardly hear the vocals, and the few kids not outside stand around intrigued, but not entirely taken, by their jaunty accordion and acoustic guitars kinda swaying, but that’s usual for the provinces, the whole, “I gotta assess if it’s okay to like this before I decide if I like this before I decide if I feel like dancing” bullshit.

Mr. Cat and the Jackal, true to their PR, are a bit like a band of chroniclers in song located in a late Victorian dockside tavern. They swap instruments between members as if they are one beast, from accordion, to guitar, to lap steel, to a thing that looks like a medieval lap steel and there is a flowing movement in the simple but wide-ranging percussion. Their songs are bawdy and open; tight and skillful and they sing of death and the open sea in a rolling and hard rocking way that totally legitimizes idea of Pirate music, moving it very far away from my notion of it being mere novelty.

Near the end of the set, there is a moment where the band all fiddle with the aircon, sweating on stage, they’re trying to turn it up because obviously it’s Durban and it’s hot. The crowd has grown but not much, it’s a slow night at the pub, and Mr. Cat and the Jackal launch into their last round of songs. The few that are there bust out into some kind of crazy punk double time waltzing with pirouettes and flourishes, totally guided in their movements by the music, as strange and familiar as a sudden memory of a past life where violence and the romance of the sea lurked in every side street.

Mr Cat and the Jackal are at VMACS Pinetown tonight with 7th Son, THOTS and the Car Boot Vendors and at Blue Stockings in Kloof on Saturday night.

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  1. Jason says:

    Pics are great. Those quarts ain’t!

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  2. Henk says:

    I love Kevin.

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  3. Tara says:

    Oh Shanelle..

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  4. Wooof says:

    Saw these guys at the New Space Theatre in CT – one of the best and entertaining shows ive ever seen !!! theyrrrrrrrrre grrrrrrrrreat!

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  5. Brett says:

    I’ve managed to miss them a couple of times, to my disappointment, but I’ve heard good things from the outer-circle of Capetonian music fans… must check em out… nice article.

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  6. Kevin Goss-Ross says:

    Aaaaah whatever. It is easy to shoot people down and not give a name. I like Coals, but even if they were really shite your comment would be out of line. At least they’re creating.

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  7. Kevin Goss-Ross says:

    Ooooops wrong article. Hahahaha. Goddamn. I love Henk. And. I loved this band. I kept thinking that I was listening to a really mellow version of System of a Down with a pirate on vocals.

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  8. blerrie lekker says:

    thanks Mahala for putting these ouens on my radar. hit their myspace page and gave them a listen, what a flipping legendary sound. closest local thing i have heard to the style of the john butler trio, though quite different, too, in a good way. will be making a little trip out to the plaasteater next weekend to check these cats. any band that makes their own instruments gets two thumbs up from me. and the fresh meat video is hilarious. nice booitjies.

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  9. Anon says:

    Another boring article about the Winston.

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  10. Jessica Rabbit says:

    Don’t be dissing Seerowers! What’s up with Mahala hating the Avontoer? Weird.

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  11. Andy says:

    since when do we hate Avontoer? DPK baby, they cool.

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  12. Roger Young says:

    Yo! Anon! Bands generally stop off at the Winston as the first gig of a Durban tour, you want me to only write about them once they’re gone?

    Jessica, nothing wrong with Avontoer, it’s just the concept of Pirate seems a little overused in the PR and it being all over the Mr C&tJ PR I got the feeling it might be a novelty factor thing (seeing they have done Avontoer), of course if you read the above article I do state that once I had seen them it made sense.

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