On first listen to St. Lucia’s debut album “When the Night,” I was shocked to learn that this wall of beachy, new wave 80’s sound was written and performed by one man alone — Jean-Philip Grobler. A New Yorker by way of South Africa, Grobler grew up in Johannesburg during the time of apartheid, which, among many other things, meant the music he had access to was limited to mainstream 80’s pop. His steady diet of Sting, Phil Collins and Paul Simon — mixed with his time spent with the prominent Drakensberg Boys Choir — helps provide an understanding of where his unique sound originates.
Fast forward to Saturday night where Grobler, along with his band of equally talented musicians, stopped by Terminal West for the best one-night all-inclusive vacation I’ve ever been on.
Given the upbeat nature of St. Lucia’s sound, and the fact that they’d only kicked off their Night Comes Again tour last month, I expected an entertaining set. What I didn’t see coming was the stage-jumping, zebra-clad performance Grobler put on for the crowd. He was a man possessed by the yacht rock gods, whipping the crowd into an island dance frenzy.
Once the crowd was under his spell, Grobler successfully got everyone to sing along on “We Got it Wrong,” repeating the line, “Don’t go, don’t go away!” The band really impressed me from a performance point of view; they couldn’t stand still and sounded great from top to bottom.
Highlights from the night included: their stage entrance to Lionel Richie’s “All Night Long,” the band informing the crowd that Atlanta was hands down the best-looking audience they’d had on tour, and their smile-inducing crowd pleaser track, “Elevate.” These highlights were a testament to that indescribable element that bands like St. Lucia have – those shows in which you find yourself in a sea of people, eyes closed, dancing like fools and singing along to every word. Does it get any better than that?
St. Lucia continue their North American tour this fall, so if you need an escape from the forthcoming chilly weather, I highly recommend catching them live.
Photography by Nora Artinian