Teaser Street: Tour Rehearsals
It’s late in the evening just south of the Thames and Kwame Yeboah is steering Eric Appapoulay and Glen Scott through songs from Yusuf / Cat Stevens’ prolific back catalogue. The hi-hats mark the pace as the bass and guitar drive through the familiar musical patterns that are ingrained in the hearts of fans the world over. The band are deep into rehearsals for 2017’s A Cat’s Attic: Peace Train Tour of South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. Yusuf will join them next week ready for the first show at The Ticketpro Dome in Johannesburg on November 8th.
We’re in a spacious studio room in what was formerly a biscuit factory. There’s a really high ceiling and stern white pillars reach down to the floor. The band are set up in stations looking in on each other and are flanked by a front-of-house rig on one side and their monitor set-up on the other. The day has been spent working on a potential second set for the tour whilst maintaining the kind of flexibility that will allow them to adapt, on-the-fly, to any changes that Yusuf may wish to make. As I enjoy the spectacle it strikes me that intricate vocal harmonies are every bit as sweet as the confectionery that used to fill this room.
“I love the smiles on Eric and Glen’s faces when we sing together” – Kwame Yeboah
It has been quite a rush to prepare the touring show, especially after the warm reception for The Laughing Apple kept Yusuf occupied with an abundance of promotional appearances. However, a tight-knit crew have pulled together around an excellent band of musicians and the mood is upbeat and exhilarated.
“Rehearsals have been intense yet satisfying. We got over the summit and now we can finally see the horizon. We’re looking forward to reuniting with Yusuf in South Africa, it’s gonna be fun” – Eric Appapoulay
Despite Yusuf’s absence, he is present in the melodies and rhythms that fill the room. Both Kwame and Eric have worked extensively with Yusuf and have developed an instinctive touch when it comes to providing a backing that’s sympathetic to his musical vision. However, this is Glen’s first tour with the band and he’s relying on the signals and guidance of Kwame, the Musical Director, to prepare for the upcoming run of shows.
“Immersing myself, on three or four instruments, in the catalogue of Cat Stevens is a songwriting and musical education. The honour is truly mine.” – Glen Scott
Later on, after having played for many hours, the band gather around to listen to playbacks of their efforts. Some unexpected treats mingle with Yusuf’s classic songs and all are guaranteed to delight audiences. The band work happily with David Hefti, the front-of house engineer, to tweak sounds and balance the instruments. David has been the team’s engineer since 2012 and also mixed Yusuf’s last two albums. The relaxed relationship between the band and David is indicative of the sense of unity that is developing. Overall, the team are in fine form and can’t wait to share Yusuf’s music with the fans.
Go to the EVENTS PAGE to see the tour dates and for links to buy tickets.
– Hallam Kite