Birdy Concert 6 Nov 2016

fire-within

So last night this happened… very first concert in Madrid!!! There is nothing like live heart-renching, husky vocals, haunting lyrics and great acoustics to awaken the romantic indie teenager in me 😀

The concert opened with Dan Owen, a guy with messy hair (obviously!) from our dear old England. We were waiting patiently in the Sala Riviera concert hall, which was decently packed (mostly with people younger than me; but then again at 31, most of the cooler kids are inevitably younger), and this unassuming guy with messy hair and a guitar comes onto the stage alone and starts singing with the huskiest, gorgeous voice. His voice is so riveting that it took only a few seconds to win everybody’s attention! My favourite of his set is a song called Moonlight, a “campfire” ballad as he described it. You’re the moonlight in the darkness, making my skin hate the sunriseeeeeeeee… And then he did got his harmonica and did a faster track called Red Rooster, the crowd loved it! This guy is going to go places. One of the best opening acts I’ve experienced.

A few minutes after Dan’s last song, Birdy and her crew got onto the stage and she sat at the piano and opened with a track called Shadow from her new album Beautiful Lies. So wherever you go, I’m your shadow / Desert to ice flow, I will follow… That part of the song is still stuck in my mind since I first heard it.

Birdy is a great live act, and she looks like an angel. Seriously. The whole set was great, with my favourite parts being Wild Horses, Wings, People Help the People, and of course Skinny Love, which obviously gave me shivers. She also did a pretty cool version of Placebo’s Running up that Hill. And for the Otra (“Encore” in Spanish), Birdy called the “wonderful” Dan Owen for a love song called Let it all Go, which was pretty magical.

All in all, it was much better than I expected going to the concert knowing only 3 Birdy songs – I’m a fan! I totally recommend seeing Birdy live.

Hey Now

I just love London Grammar. Their music just speaks to me… and that voice, so many layers of feelings, and so powerful… it’s everything that I love. It makes me love today more. The sun has come out after being out of office for so many days. It has brought with it the sweet riff of anticipation for a new adventure to come… Thank you, life. Thank you, world 🙂

FAUVE

FAUVEIn between my roles as a wife, examiner, sister, daughter, friend, writer, 29 going on 30 year old person, I discovered a new French band called FAUVE. I am still deciding whether I like it or not. A girl called Valentina sang one of their songs on The Voice France auditions, and it sort of made me curious about the band. Their style is a sort of rap / slam and the tone is dazed, confused and searching. Just like the way I’m feeling right now. Just the usual, corporate life sucks the life out of me. I need to find a way to generate survival money on my own, it’s just that at 30, you need to feel like you have some marketable skills which do not necessarily require a corporation to enable you to feed yourself. The safest thing is to develop that famous Plan B after work hours, so you keep your day job, while planning the dream job. When Plan B gets sustainable (and profitable), the you make it become Plan A. However, the eight hours of your day job are the eight hours where you are most productive, and around which your life revolves, and afterwards you feel so drained that it does not leave you with much energy to do anything but watch TV like a zombie afterwards. The new plan is to find a solution to unzombify myself after work. Maybe exercise would help, Robin Sharma sure believes it. According to him, the more fit you are, the less hours of sleep you need. Maybe I’ll start with that…

The Resuscitation of the Pink Ipod

What would life be without music? Or more precisely, what would life be without YOUR music? I spent the last six months listening to the radio, music channels and a few live concerts. Not to mention other people’s playlists. Discovering new songs and bands, with no particular intention of hearing them again. Of course, there’s still Youtube playlists, but then again with MyT bandwidth, who would bother? My hard disk got reformatted last year and after having bid goodbye to my 10,000 or so tracks for the greater cause of a surviving laptop, I did not have the courage to download songs again and re build my collection from scratch. My Ipod was the only device left with a sample of the music I have learnt to collect and cherish ever since I had started to download songs from Imesh ages, ages ago. So when my Ipod died, I completely gave up clinging to my Nirvana, Enigma and RHCP favourites and instead listened to whatever the Mauritian radios played (try this one: Poussin Piou :s).

By some divine miracle, I tried my Ipod again this evening, and it agreed to charge!!! I get goosebumps listening to most of the songs again after all this time. What makes the music really special are the stories, images and feelings associated to each one of them. Shuffled songs that are playing right now on:

1. Massive Attack – Teardrop

Rainy, misty weather, drive up to the highlands near Grand Bassin. The track that played while I was getting my first and only tattoo.

2. Ikue Asazaki – Obokuri-Eeumi (Samurai Champloo soundtrack)

The track that played when Mugen in Samurai Champloo died. The old lady’s voice sounds so wise and has a soothing feeling to it, like a caress.

3. Mano Negra & Noir Desir – Le vent nous portera

I don’t remember when I first heard this song, but the lyrics are beautiful, nonchalant and bittersweet at the same time. An instant favourite.

4. Fountains of Wayne – Sink to the Bottom

My definition of love at 17? Maybe!

5. Stereophonics – Maybe Tomorrow

The opening of Wicker Park, anyone? Raspy, rock and roll voice, and Josh Hartnett: win! I want to swim in the ocean, I want to take my time for meeeeeeee… So maybe tomorrowww I’ll find my way home!

6. Justin Bieber – Baby

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A Musical Love Affair (1999 – 2012)

It all started out with a Limp Bizkit tape which I bought for Rs40 in 1999. You know the good old walkman times, when you shut yourself up in your room to get away from your parents and the world and you listened to one tape over and over again, till you learned all the lyrics by heart. These lyrics will end up getting scrawled in specific places, such as on your silver pencil case, on school desks during a stealthy moment in boring 3 period classes when the teacher had her back to the class, maybe on the walls of your private tuition teacher’s garage, which was already scribbled all over with insanities anyway, and maybe during a quiet free period time, with blanco (whitener) on your favourite bench in the school yard. Chocolate Starfish marked the end of the Nick Carter and boys band phase and the beginning of a more “meaningful” kind of music phase. My supposedly rebellious side got a kick out of Parental Advisory Explicit Content types, which, even if I hate to admit it, also included Eminem’s Marshall Mathers album (back when Eminem’s constant laments felt genuine, and he would not even JOKE about ever featuring Rihanna in his songs).

Then, I got introduced to Guns N Roses, Metallica and … Nirvana. I developed a serious case of Kurt Cobainism. I was 15 and I was totally touched by the story of a deranged poet with sexy blond hair and soulful eyes who pioneered grunge music and shot himself in the head in 1994. The mixture of fated death, the beauty of his lyrics and the pain in his voice wooed me over. That was when I grew out of the bad boy phase into the wounded poet phase. Bleach, Nevermind, In Utero, Nirvana Unplugged were albums I listened to over and over again, the songs talked to me and I talked right back to them, there was a real connection. I walked, breathed and wrote about Kurt Cobain. Then there were Guns N Roses, Nirvana’s nemesis at the time, The November Rain trilogy, Sweet Child of Mine, Paradise City… good times with the most amazing guitar riffs. There was no better fantasy than a guy with a guitar… I wanted to learn to play guitar, bass, drums, anything that could make a place for me in that fantastic world of rock music. I settled for scribbling poems / stories  instead as I listened to each track. I made up a scenario in my mind and a little story for each song and made up my own lyrics when I could not make out the mumbles.

The music became anthems, and the lyrics my own personal slogans. What could be a better hymn to life than Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters? The opening riffs to that track still gives me shivers, wow. That, and the 3 Unforgivens, classics! We were still during the Walkman and Diskman Era. Tapes and tapes listened to over and over again, going to school, during school, after school, in the bus, hours and hours of bonding with these lyrical masters. And when the batteries of the walkman were threatening to die out, the trick was to roll them in your palms, or even chew on them (I still doubt whether that one really worked) to make them last a few minutes more. When you met new people, the first question and only question you were interested in asking them, would be what kind of music they were into. Do you like alternative? I have their last Live in Seattle concert on CD! Oh you like Manson? Which album? Do you play guitar?

That was during my years as a teenager. Then came cable TV, and with that the likes of MTV and MCM, and along with that the MP3 era. We used to download on Napster, Ares and iMesh. Man, I used to download a whole lot of songs, even videos. The time of tapes and CDs were gone, now you could download singles and specific tracks. That way, you could discover more bands. And with cable TV, American series like Smallville, Roswell, Dawsons Creek, and their respective soundtracks became really popular. A whole lot of good songs came from these sountracks, mainly more or less mainstream American alternative bands. Some bands I came to like were Incubus, Creed, Lifehouse, Switchfoot, Live, 3DoorsDown, Dishwalla… These songs bring back nice bittersweet memories, albeit less deep than the classics, but still, they were good music. Movie and series soundtracks became a great way to discover bands, special thank you goes to One Tree Hill and The OC soundtracks.

During my university years, I had the chance to attend a few concerts. Experiencing a song live with thousands of other people is kind of unique. It’s great when you already know the song, but it’s also quite amazing to discover a new song that way, and realize instantly that you like it! I discovered Imogen Heap and The Parlotones that way. Facebook is a great way to share music and discover new bands, especially when you know that some people share the same (fantastic) taste of music. I also like indulging into Youtube playlists. You wake up one Sunday morning wanting to listen to U2 songs, best way is to load their Youtube Best Of playlist.

Now that I’m an office rat, I kind of stick to what’s in my Ipod, that’s all of the above, including a considerable percentage of very random favourites ranging from Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Kaya, Manu Chao and much more. I have recently discovered Arctic Monkeys and Foster the People, I have to admit the new kids have talent, it’s a shame that I feel like these belong to another generation. I guess it’s because I am so out of touch with new music now as compared to my adolescent years,  the new kids make me feel very un-hip.

My taste in music is definitely eclectic, but I like the depth of rock music. I recently watched Romeo+Juliet (1996) and was struck by how deliciously well Radiohead’s Talk Show Host fitted in the soundtrack. It would be difficult to find a better song to portray emotions ranging from love, anguish, hope to fatality. I feel that artists, the real ones, must have gone through a great deal of soul searching, pain even, to be able to convey so much through a mere combination of words and sound.

Studies say that music, just like food and sex, makes the brain release a chemical called dopamine, which gives pleasure. I think that music brings much more. It can help you make a friend, express your feelings to a loved one, music can help you feel better when you are feeling down. It’s a comforting thought to know that someone somewhere might have gone through the same thing. The thing with a really great song is that all you need to do is find yourself in it, and it becomes yours forever…

Susheela Raman Vs Old School Mauritius

So I was all excited about going to the Susheela Raman concert, which was going to add to my 27th birthday celebrations, till I came to this post on her official facebook page:

http://www.facebook.com/susheelaramanofficial

VERRY HAPPY and privileged to be in beautiful Maritius to play but VERY UNHAPPY to be told on arrival that we a cannot play the Murugan-related songs ‘Paal’ or ‘Ennapane’, which are centrepieces of both the album VEL and our live show, because some minority ultra-conservatives within the Tamil minority are upset by them. We have been give a choice, after a 26 hour journey: either agree not play the songs or cancel the show, which has been sold out/much anticipated. Hrrmph.

I was quick to youtube Paal, which is supposed to be a song about a sacred pilgrimmage for Lord Muruga:

I did not find in this video anything that would sound more “offensive” than any of her other carnatic songs. What I think happened is that some “ultra-conservative” religious group wanted to make themselves heard and did not even bother to carry out real research on Susheela Raman songs, but just picked the first two most popular ones and with the most references to the words “Vel Muruga” and decided that they were “offensive”. Which in my opinion, totally defeats the purpose, because most of her carnatic songs, which constituted 70% of the concert, contained religious Tamil terms. What is even more astounding is that these songs were freely played (and appreciated) in places such as Mumbai and Pakistan, and (wait for it) in the holy seat of Lord Muruga, Tamil Nadu itself. Would the reaction of these hotheads have been the same had these songs been performed by an old lady in a saree, wearing glasses and playing an harmonium? Or if the songs had been first over-mediatised and glamourised and accepted by Bollywood mainstream?

So does that mean that multi-cultural, key to the Indian Ocean, ex English and French colony Mauritius is more conservative than India itself? Or does that mean that society, or in this case, the organisers, feel that they are too vulnerable to the power of the voices of a few religious hotheads?

So what was the point of the ban? And most importantly, how come these voices had to be heeded to? Do we live in a society governed by “ultra-conservative” religious hotheads? Is this the kind of society we want? Is Mauritius a religious state?

I think that the paradox of Mauritius is that we want to be too many things at once. We want to be fervently religious, we want to be westernized, we want to conquer Africa, we don’t want to forget our roots, and we want to be modern at the same time. In this case, we want to bring Susheela Raman to Mauritius because she is an world-renowned artist, but we do not want her to sing Paal and Ennapane fearing that this might offend some easily offended hotheads. Which happen to have the power (and means) to organise potentially violent demonstrations. Why? Because something like religion, which in this case is itself a branch of Hinduism, leads to feelings of sectarianism or the “nou ban” effect and fires up tempers easily. It is human nature to protect one’s “own” with tooth and nail, agreed. But after more than 40 years of independence, is this normal? Or desirable?

Are the whims of religious groups to be tolerated? Is this going to fade away as the current generation retires making place for the new one, that is, for us? Or are some of us being brainwashed by fanatics and groomed to gush out the same old sectarian bullshit over and over again? Mine is good, mine is sacred, yours is bad, yours is blasphemy and nothing else matters. Do politicians who use this weakness in the Mauritian society to their own good when it suits them, to blame? Or are we the ones to blame, the passive ones, who sit through a Paal and Ennapane – less Susheela Raman concert, with a nondescript smirk on our faces, knowing full well of the absurdity of the ban, but who wish to remain in our comfort zone of letting it go, just because it is the safer and easier option?

As a side note, I have to say that listening to the album Moksh by Whosane has had the merit of making more than one take the time to sit down and leaf through the Bhagavad Gita. What’s wrong in making old religious texts and mantras accessible to a jaded youth who is so desperately looking for something to believe in?

At least Susheela had the guts to stay true to herself and voice out on the absurdity of the ban and hold a one minute silence in protest. Respect…

Coldplay 5 Oct 2011 Cape Town

Ok, as promised, here’s how the night went as far as I can remember…

We walked from the waterfront to Greenpoint Stadium and reached there at 1500. We queued in front of the main doors for 2 hours and heard how people had been there since morning, or worse, had slept there overnight. The bands were soundchecking inside and this got the crowd more and more excited.

The gates opened at 1700 and we were the first ones at the concert merchandise store. We were lucky enough to get places at the very front of General Standing, which were right behind Golden Circle, or about 10m from the stage.

The Parlotones, a band from Johannesburg, which I only heard once from an OC soundtrack, started at 2000 sharp. It is a weird feeling discovering a band in these circumstances, I loved them! They have this powerful, heart-renching, soulful quality to them, they make me think of a less commercial version of Green Day. The 17 year old South African dude next to me was going crazy, he knew all the lyrics to all the songs! They played a full one hour set, the following of which stuck to my mind: I’m only human, Giant Mistake, Beautiful, I’ll be there, Push me to the Floor. The lead singer Kahn Morbee modestly spoke about how the bands were huge Coldplay fans since Parachutes, and how honoured they were to open for them.

The Parlotones left the stage, after a few minutes of silence, they started playing Jay-Z’s 99 Problems. After a few seconds of surprise, the crowd started dancing and singing along. Then, drumrolls… fireworks… and when everybody looked down from the last fireworks in the sky to the stage, the band was already there! They started with It hurts like Heaven from Mylo Xyloto, Chris Martin was on the piano (see link).

The set went by really quickly. The second song was Yellow, all the lights on the stage turned yellow, and the crowd was going crazy. Then, there was In my Place, Paradise, Viva la Vida, Violet Hill, The Scientist… Chris Martin is great on stage, the energy was contagious. They came to the very end of the stage to do an acoustic set, which included Shiver and Fix You. Then Chris Martin disappeared for a second, the crowd started singing the opening to Viva la Vida, then he appeared again and started playing Clocks, and the closed on Every Teardrop. The crowd went mad and there were fireworks again to close the concert.

And the night was complete with running to catch the last train home (no kidding). A once in a lifetime experience… worth every muscle cramp! Check out the rest of the videos on youtube..