Monday, July 18, 2011

Warley Woods Picnic in the Park – Sunday 17th July 2011

We live in England. It rains. That’s what makes our green and pleasant land green and pleasant. So the odd drop (okay, downpour then) failed to dampen the spirits of the good folk of Bearwood. Well, some of them at least. I didn’t get to see / hear as much of the music on offer as I have on previous years (I was helping to man a stand...more info on that to follow), but I did get to witness the stunningly great pairing of Aziz Ibrahim (guitar and vocals) and Dalbir Singh Rattan (tabla). He’s done a whole load of great stuff but you might know Aziz as a former member of the Stone Roses (MK II) and one of Ian Brown’s chief collaborators (he co-wrote Stars amongst many other tunes).

Dalbir’s played with some rather well known names too, including the modfather himself, Mr Paul Weller. It was all a bit surreal actually seeing two such well respected musicians playing in the rain in front of a small but damply enthusiastic crowd in my local woods, but there you go, out of the most unexpected situations come some of the best musical moments in life eh?

Musically the pairing frequently spar between each other, with Aziz constantly raising the bar with his guitar playing only for Dal to match him with some sophisticated and inventive tabla work. It’s difficult to pigeon hole the music, so I won’t even try, Aziz himself made it quite clear he hated the term ‘world music’ and I can’t say I blame him really. Surely any music played on this planet is ‘world music’ eh? He plumped for ‘Asian blues’ at one point, but even that’s too restrictive. Who cares what it’s called. It’s bloody great. Highlights of the set (he played for well over an hour...maybe nearly two...I lost track of the time) included numerous gorgeous jams as described above along with a...dare I say it...version of Stars that had the edge on the original.

Add snatches of Zep’s Kashmir and The Beatles Norwegian Wood with some Hendrix style teeth playing and you’ve got a set that made standing in the rain, cold and wind seem like the best freakin’ idea in the world. last thing... when Aziz’s guitar plug fell out he used it to play the tuning keys...using the feedback (?) created between the connection of metal on metal to create some kind of other worldly sounds. Now that’s inventive. If you were there, you were darn lucky. It stands out as one of the most surprising sets (in one of the most unusual settings) that I’ve ever seen. If you weren’t there make it your mission to see this pair live. I might even be able to help you out there the next post after this one for more info.

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