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The seed drill works!!!

In the shuffling madness, I managed to actually go for the Jethrotull+Anoushka Shankar concert. After a day of slaving over the keyboard, and doing random spreadsheet callisthenic’s, I reached Palace Grounds right in time for the concert. The advantage of going for a nondescript band like Tull, is that the venue is not populated by clods who request for covers of Limp Bizkit or Metallica. The crowd seemed knowledgeable and looked like Woodstock 69's lost children.

The concert was divided into three phases, with Anoushka opening the concert with her Hindustani classic ensemble. The first rendition was in Rag Jog, which is an evening Rag. She was ably supported by local lad Ravichandra Kulur on the flute, and seasoned tabla maestro Tanmay Bose. The composition had a nice leitmotif, and quite a catchy tune. Considering the pleasant weather, it was quite an apt composition and evoked memories of Bangalore of yore.

The next composition was in Rag Pancham Singhada, which is a composition of her father Pt Ravi Shankar, whom she wryly asked if many people in the audience had heard off. This piece was a nice, romantic ballad, with a fine Sawaal-jawab [exchange of rhythmic patterns, in sync with the tala(i.e., the beat pattern)] between the tabla and the flute.

After a 5 minute break, Tull roared onto stage, with fronstman and folk hero Ian Anderson prancing around in his trademark black bandanna, and opening with 'My Sunday Feeling’, from their first album, This Was. During the course of the song, I was amazed at the sheer versatility of the song, as Anderson effortlessly flitted between playing on the flute and singing. The highlight of the song was my first sighting of the famous cross legged stance, which almost mirrors MSD's initial stance, before his famous swivel shot, where he furiously whips the ball, with a devilish turn of the wrists(Apologies for the hyperbole, too much of Cricinfo, in between breaks, does this to you)

The opening bars of 'Living in the Past’; brought back fond memories of listening to Tull, during my early college days. This was one of those songs, which instantaneously hooked me on to Tull, besides being a fine tune to whistle, while making periodic visits to the loo. This song was followed by Thick as a Brick, from the eponymous album. An abridged version of this song was performed, as the actual song is 26 odd minutes long. This song was part of a phase, when Tull was trying to experiment with prog rock aka Yes, Rush. The album was a nice farce, with a fictional tale being drummed up of the album having been conceived by a 12 year kid called Gerald Bostock. Besides, during those periodic trips to Habitat with Santosh, I would spend some time drooling over the album cover, which also had a Connect the dots farce forming a part of the inner liner notes (and in case you are interested in knowing, the dots connect to a duck).

The next song was one of those moments, where the collective might of the audience, was finally heard. Martin Barre pounded that most guttural of riffs ever known in rock history, and Aqualung was finally upon us. The main parts of the song, were performed in a mono sound, which was actually reminiscent of the original, where Anderson, wanted to give the song an orchestral feeling, similar to what Zep were trying on their fourth untitled album. Yours truly was crooning away, much to the chagrin of the others in the audience, but i continued to bellow away, until the sound of the security folks making their displeasure felt, piped me down.

Before commencing the next song, Anderson wished Mick Jagger on his birthday, and was full of praise for his energy on stage. Few expected him to launch into 'Too Old to Rock and Roll, too young to die'. It was one of those moments, which pretty much summed up Tull to me. The usual brand of whimsical humour was in dispersed with some great music. They have always come across to me as an eccentric band, fronted by the inimitable Anderson, whose tongue-in cheek humour reminds me of that great English cricket commentator Brian Johnston. Tull have never been a great commercial success, in the league of the Rolling Stones, Beatles, Zeppelin, but they have managed to carry on doing what they are best at, without compromising on their style of performing or swaying to the interests of record labels. In other words, apart from a brief phase, when they dabbled with Prog Rock, they haven’t really alienated the hardcore Tull fans.

The last song before the final set between Tull and Shankar was 'A New Day yesterday'. The song saw some adroit drumming by Doanne Perry ably supported by David Goodier on Bass, who also doubled up in the Glockenspiel and John O Hara on the keyboards, who also displayed his mastery over the Harmonium.

The final set was a mutual arrangement between Shankar and Tull, where they each performed the other’s songs. The first song was titled`'Tea with Anoushka', and was very bland and lacked bite. This was followed by a very melodic piece called 'Celtic Cradle' which incidentally appears on Anderson's early solo effort 'Divinities', which was a nod to Eastern mysticism etc. Shankar admirably performed, and came across as a very industrious sort of musician, who is not a musical genius, but is willing to work hard and gain credibility by dint of sheer hard work. She is not in the same league as L Shankar, or U Srinivas, who are in my opinion, masters of effortlessly turning a phrase of music on its head, and making it sound ethereal.

Johann Sebastian Bach is remembered by classic rock aficionados for his famous piece ' Bouree' which Anderson termed as being degenerated into Cocktail jazz by Tull. Anoushka does a nice spiffy job, of underplaying the tones, in a non-Hindustani mould, and efficiently weaving her way through the notes. David Goodier and Martin Barre performed the mid-sections of the song particularly well. All in all, it was a nice tight set.

After this song, there was an abrupt exit from the stage en masse. After the magic of ‘Bouree’, the audience was bargaining for 'Songs from the Wood', ‘Budapest’ and ‘Rumble in the Jungle’. After a tantalizing few minutes, Anderson appeared on stage bearing his trademark impish grin, followed by the rest of the band. I heard the opening bars of Locomotive Breath on Anoushka's sitar, and it sounded too good to be true. We are all familiar with that famous opening piano interlude, before the song actually begins. Listening to the opening bars on the sitar, reminded me of the Channel`[V]' ad, where ‘Sweet Child of mine’ was rendered ala Hindustani style. The song also had Ravichandra Kulur matching Anderson step for step. The audience, in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks, was displaying renewed fervor, and was supporting 'Namma Huduga', and cries of Bhale and Shabash rent the air.

The concert ended with 'Louis Armstrong’s ‘What a Wonderful World'. His raspy voice was a fitting finale to a grand carnival of music.

PS: Have recorded snippets of all the songs. If someone can help me with uploading them, do let me know.



( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Dec. 8th, 2008 04:31 am (UTC)
Bugger, I'd be happy to help with the uploading. Are these all cellphone-cam vids? And we should actually go on another Habitat/Planet M jaunt some time. I saw an ad in the paper - major discounts, 50-75%, at Planet M. Also, an offer of 3 CDs/VCDs/DVDs for 99 bucks. The last time this sale happened, Manish went, and he picked up some killer stuff. Woody Allen's The Front, The Shawshank Redemption and some other VCD for a total of 99 bucks. Just say the word, one of these days.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )



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