Last Friday was the only dry day in the last 7 or so in the UK and I was blessed to have chosen it to travel to London. Some months ago I bought a ticket for the Songlines magazine awards concert. Songlines being a world music mag to which I subscribe and the source of much of my enjoyable forays into world music.
I was looking forward to it in an “it’s another gig to go to” sort of way. I wandered Tate Modern for the afternoon wondering why I’m not hanging in there and then had an early meal at the Barbican restaurant, where the concert was, along with a couple of rather large glasses of expensive wine – that is, the drinks were expensive, the wine not so much.
Cutting to the chase here, I enjoyed the rocking / jazzy music of Malian newcomer Fatoumata Diawara. Good stuff.
But I was not ready for the next 45 minutes at all. Anoushka Shankar is a daughter of sitar maestro Ravi Shankar, and began studying at her father’s knee when she was 9 years old.
Such genealogy and tutelage is bound to lead to something special. I confess I had tried her latest album, “Traveller”, and, somehow, just … couldn’t quite …. get it. You know? Sometimes you are either in the right mood or you’re not, and maybe I wasn’t, because I tried it and moved on.
“Traveller” blends the passions of flamenco with Indian classical music. On the face of it, a laudable combination to attempt. But, as I say, maybe I just wasn’t in the mood to put the work in.
Anoushka took to the stage with her multi-cultural quintet and proceeded to deliver a most unforgettable, stunning 45 minutes of music that had the audience on their feet in rapturous applause. I, and a few hundred or so others, were completely blown away.
The video below is the nearest I can find to give you the idea. The band here is much the same as I witnessed on Friday. You don’t need to watch it all. Heavens, few of you will have the time. But the first two songs will give you a good shot at what was to follow. Perhaps it was one of those “you had to be there” moments but I have to tell you the passion and power of this music at full volume was awesome.
Now I get it. Now I see what the album is telling me. I wasn’t ready and I was completely taken by surprise. The impact memorable and forceful.
Certainly one of the best shows I have ever seen……..