The World Is Sound

simply rahat …


After tremendous a sellout tour in 2009, the last time Rahat was here he joined forces with The Birmingham Symphony Orchestra to pay tribute to the late Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

Last Monday 22/03 – Rahat returned to the Birmingham accompanied with a twelve musician group to perform a variety of Qawwali and Bollywood tracks.

Now this was my first ever Qawwali concert. Of course I had heard tracks by Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, the Pavarotti of Pakistan. Evergreen tracks like Dum Must Qalander and Akhiyan Udeek Diyaan send chills down my spine every time I listen to them – not so familiar with Rahats work.

Even though I shouldn’t have, I went in with a level of expectation, who wouldn’t right? The mantle of Nusrats genius has fallen upon the shoulders of Rahat, carrying the torch of 600 years of Qawwali lineage. No pressure!

The opening track was Allah Hoo – damn … the energy was outstanding, the way it was performed – Vahh too good. Rahat started with an instrumental prelude, playing the main melody on the harmonium, the moment the audience recognise the track – that was it … applause, cheer and shouts of appreciation filled the Birmingham Symphony Hall.

Allah Hoo:

The Alap began, tonal improvised melody during which Rahat would intone different long notes in the raag the track is soon to be played in. Then the main song began, with the table, dholak and clapping simultaneously kicking in. Damn what a vibe! Rahat continued each verse, trading off lines with the other the other vocalists. As each verse built to a climax, they passionately return to the chorus, over and over again, for minutes and minutes at a time.

Quite a number of the line up songs were Bollywood … not a big fan, so wasn’t too moved or entertained by them. My favourite moment was when Akhiyan Udeek Diyaan was performed. All I wanted to do is get up and dance … and I regret not doing so! The tempo was bang on, speeding up, slowing down, returning to the main chorus everyone sync’d, vocal acrobatics I tell you!

Akhiyan Udeek Diyan:

This is why I attended – it’s that intense experience I was looking for, Qawwali in its raw form.

The concert was spectacular, though there were a couple of factors that let the side down. The major one being, Sound! I don’t know who was in charge but my god it was poor during the first half! I think after feedback by the audience (and from the speakers ha ha :P) the sound improved drastically in the last half. Secondly and this is a personal opinion. The two keyboard players, drummer, and the saxophone player weren’t needed. To me the sound generated by them felt quite cheap, like a wedding band. There must have been a good reason to have them there in the first place but I didn’t see it.

However, what I do see is this: Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan is my generation’s Nusrat … Qawaal will continue to flourish and live on through him.

Gaudi + Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (DUB QAWAALI – some of the best Qawaali remixes I’ve heard!!)

Allah Hoo: featuring

One response

  1. Sonia Mehta

    I was sorry not to have been able to go to this event and glad to hear as a first timer it was as spectacular as I would have expected. I went to almost all of Nusrat’s London gigs and feel like Rahat certainly fills some big shoes in following suit.

    I absolutely agree with you about the use of saxophone and keyboards, as do many of the people I have gone with, both to Rahat’s and Nusrat’s later concerts. It makes the otherwise spiritual essence of the sound become tinny and and distracting. I wish someone would tell him!

    All in all though, I look forward to many more Rahat experiences.

    31/03/2010 at 11:29 AM

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