Natasha Meister’s voice carried throughout the Steven Biko building, inviting music lovers and curious festival goers to her show. The Cuervo Music Room provided a spacious yet comfortable atmosphere, with dim lighting and sparse furniture. The scene was definitely set for a high quality blues-style set.
The Canadian artist and her band are certainly not newcomers to the scene. Meister recently became the first woman to ever be endorsed by Fender guitars and her band members play with the precision and poise that only comes from practice. So with all the ingredients for success, why was the experience so underwhelming?
Meister’s look and sound is reminiscent of a young Alanis Morrisette and while her guitar riffs, chord progressions and rhythm are technically flawless, the live music experience could be summarized in one word: lacklustre. In such an intimate setting, one would expect the chance for true engagement with the crowd and yet the ambience was fairly wooden. Even within the ranks, it seemed as if the rapport was a little off. While the drummer, Paul Tizzard seemed entirely in his own world, the bassist, Roger Bashew seemed to stare into space from time to time. Perhaps there is an ESP connection between the three of them that works but it certainly made for poor viewing and an uncomfortable sense of distance between the band and the audience.
That having been said, there is no doubt that the band has a strong musical core and while the songs are quite predictable, they are brought to their full potential. With the musical side clearly controlled, the band definitely needs to focus on perfecting the art of live performance.
Natasha Meister played the Cuervo Music Room on 29-30 June, with her final show on 2 July.