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  • Martin Bullard

Far away in SA

What can a twelfth tour of South Africa show you that the other eleven can’t? For a start it has proven that we have unwavering support over here even with, and perhaps especially with, the new lineup. Being the last of the bookings made as Covid hit, the arenas were full of people who were expecting to see us in March 2020. There was palpable pent up energy amongst the crowds, causing them to be even louder than we know South Africans to be. The tour took us first to Cape Town where we played the familiar Grand West Arena to a crowd of around 5,000. Earlier that morning we recorded SABC’s Breakfast Show for transmission on Friday16th. Massive media interviews left us a little drained but still on good form and ready for the live recording at Sun Bet Arena in Pretoria, a show that was also streamed on cable tv and to a live audience of 8,000. Returning to Brakpan on Saturday via the Vellies shoe shop, where we were treated to a free pair of quality leather shoes each, we rounded off the tour with two appearances at the very popular Carnival City, a venue we have played more than any other in this country. No tour is complete without a special surprise, and this came in the form of a visit from the South African police force who brought their armoured vehicle to take us for a ride before recording safety messages for the public as Christmas approaches and accidents become more frequent. The final adventure came in the form of an escorted and fairly speedy return to O.R,Tambo International Airport with hazards flashing and ignoring all the red lights on the way. Not being superstitious, I floated the idea of a thirteenth Smokie tour in 2025 to mark our 50th anniversary. If this happens it will delight a lot of people and it will be great to hear the roar of the South African crowds once again.

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