Monday, June 20, 2005

World Muzac Day

We had a most terrible evening out last Saturday. Ajitha had got these passes for the Friends of Music show at the Garden of Five Senses for World Music Day (as if such a thing makes any sense), and Mrigaya were supposed to be playing. So were Rabbi Shergill and a few others, so it promised a fine evening.

But then the disappointments started queueing up and coming at us. There was a Manipuri percussion trio to start things off, which wasn't terribly bad. But then there was this school choir kind of thing called Artists Unlimited. Which seemed like a fairly interesting concept to start off with, with over 170 members or something. 50-odd of them took the stage, and gave us a series of nursery rhyme-like pop numbers, interspersed with renditions of Stevie Wonder and some other people I fortunately have never heard. They also had groups - some for the Hindi/Indian stuff, and some for the English stuff. Admittedly, a couple of the voices weren't bad, but the music on the whole was stupid. Extremely stupid. And, for some reason, Artists Unlimited were allowed almost an hour on stage, which - it later transpired - was because HH Rabbi Shergill hadn't arrived yet.

Following AU were another rather boring session involving a Frenchman and an Indian called Khargosh Birbal Singh. Now, while their music itself wasn't terribly good, it was probably the most interesting session of the evening, as they are basically a couple of people who experiment with various native musical instruments. So there were didgeridoos and some other long, bamboo pole-like instruments, a few flute-like things, and some percussion devices. They just didn't have it in them to make any great music though, and their jamming sessions just shouldn't have been given a stage.

And then Rabbi happened. At 9.30pm or thereabouts. In shades, and a long cape-like thing complete with...
...written on it.

Now, I am all for musicians making political statements. And somewhere I think in Rabbi's case it wasn't all put on. But his act was. I shamelessly admit to loving Rabbi's music and championing it. But I think we have seen the end of the man's music. He strutted around stage with his guitar in what can best be described as a marriage between Prince and Kishore Kumar. The guitar, itself, was tuned and handed to him by one of his many minions [wonder what Jimi Hendrix would have done if he'd learnt someone had dared touch his guitar]. And he sang his usual songs interspersed with occasions hollerings of "put your hands together people", and other such things. Quite awful. Really.

Mrigaya did play right at the end, and I am told they played as well as they always do. But we just didn't have it in us to sit around on the hard, stony ground anymore, especially with the temperature still around 40 degrees at 10 o'clock at night.

Bad scene, really. We went across to Yusuf's place after that to round things off with a few stiff rums...Yusuf, of course, had to endure the whole thing because we dragged him along.