Most of the time, shooting a concert is just a job. But there are some cases when it’s more than that—-when shoots can feel like capturing a significant moment in history. When I learned the story of rediscovered Detroit folk singer Rodriguez, I predicted his sold-out show at Sixth and I Historic Synagogue Thursday night would be one of those times. Given the audience’s standing ovation when Rodriguez entered the concert room, it was clear others felt the same way.
Rodriguez put out two records in the early 1970s, then seemed to disappear. But with a voice like Nick Drake and politics like Bob Dylan, the singer unknowingly helped inspire a generation of South Africans living under apartheid. Now, at age 70, Rodriguez is getting a boost in his home country, thanks largely to the documentary about his life, Searching for Sugar Man, and the film’s soundtrack, which shed light on Rodriguez’s songs for a new generation of listeners.
The musician suffers from deteriorating vision, so much that he had to be escorted to the stage by 9:30 Club night manager Josh Burdette. But as he began to play, Rodriguez sounded like the assured, passionate singer that inspired a segregated African nation more than 40 years ago.
Go to the gallery to see photos from the show.