Rodriguez still has it at 70

  • 17/03/2013

At 70 years old Sixto Rodriguez still has it. That soulful voice, the rock star look and such a positive attitude.

Maybe that's because he's only been a star for the last 15 years, and has only been world famous since the Oscar-winning documentary on him, Searching for Sugarman, came out last year.

His performance in Auckland last night gave contemporary Bob Dylan himself a run for his money. Unlike Dylan, (whom I saw live in 2010) at his age Rodriguez's voice sounds almost as good as his recordings, albeit a wee bit weaker.

Though he was escorted onto the stage he stood comfortably for the whole show, skillfully playing guitar, and waving and grinning at the audience.

The mainly South African crowd was absolutely spellbound by his performance, as was I, with the whole arena giving him a standing ovation.

One concert-goer was excited to see one of the music idols he grew up with.

"Coming from South Africa we obviously grew up listening to it and we’re excited to be here,” Glenn Kirsten, a South African living in Hamilton, said.

He estimated that 80 percent of the audience was South African, saying none of his Kiwi friends had heard of Rodriguez, but many of them were intrigued by the story of how the American singer became famous in South Africa and nowhere else.

It was not until 1998 that Rodriguez was told of his fame, and he began touring again for the first time since 1981.

He played many audience favourites last night which got the crowd clapping and singing along such as 'I Wonder', 'Sugarman', 'Establishment Blues', 'I Think Of You', 'Cold Fact' and 'Crucify Your Mind'.

I couldn't help but marvel over the insightful and forward-thinking lyrics, and wonder how he had not become famous when his albums were released in the early 1970s. His songs are also so interestingly varied in genre, from blues and ballads, to rock and roll and bossa nova-style numbers.

He also played a few covers including Elvis’s 'Blue Suede Shoes' and Dylan's 'Like a Rolling Stone'.

Members of the over-excited crowd regularly shouted out in between songs, saying “I love you Rodriguez” and “thanks for coming Rodriguez” or song requests. Rodriguez smiled at the comments and replied, “I know it’s the drinks, but I love you back.”

The singer also showed his mind was still sharp, telling jokes and speaking words of wisdom.

“Is there anyone else who wants to know the secret to life? Just keep breathing in and out," he said.

“The mystery of life is you never know when it’s going to end.

“Free love is too expensive.

“I was hoping for a woman pope.”

Rodriguez – he’s still got it.

3 News

source: newshub archive