Monday, 9 April 2012

Kailash Kher at the Hammersmith Apollo: The UKAsian Review

The Hammersmith Apollo has hosted some legendary musicians and on a damp and dreary Easter Sunday, the iconic venue played host to one more as Kailash Kher stopped off in London as part of his whirlwind world tour.
He’s taken in performances in Northern England and the Netherlands, not to mention an appearance at the BBC’s famed Maida Vale studios in a matter of days but if there was any exhaustion it certainly didn’t show.
As the sounds of a Sarod reverberated through the auditorium, the diminutive Kher scuttled on to the stage to start things off with an epic version of ‘Jana Jogi De Naal’.
That opening gambit was so rapturous it almost felt as if it was the end of the evening but any doubts that the night couldn’t sustain such a high standard were soon laid to rest as the band dipped into its abundant back catalogue and some covers for a performance that will doubtless join the list of legendary gigs at the Apollo.
Among the highlights was a haunting rendition of ‘Saiyaan’, a cover of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s ‘Sanu Ek Pal Chain Na Naave’ which the maestro himself would have been proud of, the pulsating ‘Tauba Tauba’ and the band’s newest release, the delightfully breezy ‘Rangeele’.
The key to the band’s burgeoning success is its amazingly complex fusion of Sufi and myriad Western musical genres.  In an age when fusion music is so au courant, it is arguable whether there is a finer marriage of styles; the mysticism of Sufi music blending seamlessly with jazz, reggae, African rhythms, funk, bluesy rock and roll and even a bit of Nashville to create a sound that is utterly effervescent.
The instrumentalists were uniformly excellent, particularly Paresh and Naresh Kamath, backing vocalists and the band’s lead and bass guitarists respectively as well as the outstanding percussionist Sanket Athale.
At the heart of the band’s sound of course is the unique voice of Kailash Kher.
It is a voice that can effortlessly capture a plethora of emotions; from the profundity of Sufism to the despair of the blues; from the yearning of reggae to the joy of funk.  It is astonishing that Kailash can actually sound better live than in the recording studio.
What’s more, he is a true entertainer, flitting between singing and performing observational comedy in between songs.  There is a humility to him that is deeply endearing; it is evident that he loves every moment in the sunshine and cherishes the success he has found since struggling in Mumbai.
History is pock-marked with references to music’s claimed ability to transcend all manner of barriers, borders and nefarious encumbrances and make the world a happier place.
No music better encapsulates that esoteric power of music than the magical concoctions of Kailash Kher.
-    Vijitha Alles
Kailasa’s latest album ‘Rangeele’ is available via iTunes and Amazon Music

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