Pharrell Williams is on a mission to make the world “Happy”. The Grammy Award winner’s recent collaboration with Woolworths’ My School campaign aims to raise R100 million for underprivileged schools across the country.
As a result, South African fans in Cape Town and Johanessburg were treated to the Grammy Award winner’s “Dear Girl” tour. The 3-stop tour marks Pharrell’s second performance in South Africa – he previously performed at the 46664 concert in 2006.
I attended the private concert at Ticketpro Dome in Johannesburg last Wednesday, 23 September. The event was well-catered for with complimentary food, drinks and open bars – an impressive setup with friendly staff, red-carpet treatment as you entered the venue and fun props.
Right on time, electro-pop trio, GoodLuck Live, got the crowd bouncing with a few of their most popular hits.
A short break later and out came the man of the moment to his latest single “Freedom“. The most compelling thing about Pharrell is not his ability to captivate an entire arena, it’s knowing that he has contributed to chart-topping hits with artists such as Gwen Stefani, Ludacris, Snoop Dogg, Robin Thicke, Nelly and Justin Timberlake – to name a few; he owned the airways with “Happy” and is known as one of the best producers in the business – he’s the epitome of a musical success – yet, in all his glory he exudes humbleness in a way very few superstars do.
No bells, no whistles – just four dancers (aka The Baes), drummer, guitarist and two back-up singers. From “Frontin“, to “Happy”, “Come Get it Bae” and “Marilyn Monroe”, he charmed the crowd. He gave fans a glimpse of mega-tracks that he produced such as “Hollaback Girl“, “Get Lucky“, “Drop it like it’s hot” and “Blurred Lines” – a few snippets just long enough to highlight the extent of his CV. A blast from the past saw Shae Halley join him on stage for some good ol’ fashion N*E*R*D hits such as “Rock Star”, “She Wants to Move” and “Lap Dance”.
Pharrell Williams may be 42-years old, but he doesn’t look it. His vocals are silky-smooth, his performance is uplifting and the ambiance he creates on stage is infectious. The energetic spill-over into the crowd is inevitable – they sang, danced, jumped, whatever – but for a solid hour they moved to his beat.
He shared the stage with the Soweto Gospel Choir as he closed the show with his current single “Freedom“(yes again), but not before reminding the crowd of how far South Africa has come and paid tribute to Madiba. Despite mentioning that he lost his voice earlier that day, Pharrell put on a stellar performance and if his voice faltered, nobody noticed.
Three cheers to Woolworths for the amazing event and here’s to a successful campaign!