I had the absolute privilege of seeing Nitin Sawhney and his band live at the Jazz cafe in Camden town yesterday. For starters, the event was non-smoking by request from the artists. The subject of 'non-smoking' is taboo in the U.K. so this was a pleasant surprise and my respect for the artists went up marginally right there.
Although we had to wait for an hour and a half before the band came on stage. However the band got to work right away and as soon as the first note played, it was instant gratification. The band started the set with 'Sunset' with vocals by Sharon Duncan. Sharon's voice lended tremendously to the depth of this song and was a great start to the show. Nitin's playlist stayed on the contemporary jazz side for a bit but with the unmistakable Indian influence (specially with the tabla - played by Aref Durvesh). The show then went to the next level with Tina Grace. Tina was a picture of emotion and grace as she got lost on the songs she was singing. Natacha atlas was another forceful performer. Again it was the depth of her vocals and the passion on stage that blew my mind away. She was a pleasure to watch. Nitin's special guest for the night was Fink who played the guitar and performed one of his own songs. Some more songs that were on the set:
Sawhney's displayed his political influence when he introduced 'The immigrant'. He wanted to celebrate the diversity that made up the audience, the band, the city and the country.
The highlight of the evening though was the encore after which we heard what i had been waiting for all night - 'Nadia'. Reena Bhardwaj was absolutely stunning. This track has a hevay drum and bass component which was well substituted by drums, tabla and vocal percussion by Jason Singh. Very impressive.
I should also give props to Ashvin Srinivasan who was on the flute and lended vocals to many songs. The flute is a big part of Nitin's compositions and we got ample doses of the flute yesterday.
There was another highlight of the evening for me- Meeting Osmani soundz. They had been helping the band with some sound effects all evening but after the show they got on the decks and went into heavy eastern drum and bass. I learnt from the man himself that what we were hearing was unreleased material due out next year.
This is a must see show was anyone who is fond of Sawhney's music and fond of asian influenced music in general.