There should be more gigs on boats, especially canal boats. Granted there’s not much chance of a circle pit breaking out or anyone crowd surfing (that could get messy...) but there’s something about the intimacy of a space like this that heightens the connection between audience and performer, especially as the whole thing took place in the relative brightness of a drizzly Saturday afternoon to boot.
This gig was part of the Eastern Electronic Festival, a month long celebration of new British Asian musical talent held right here in Brum. All three of this afternoon’s artists were commissioned by the organisers to produce a piece that summed up what Birmingham means to them and they each performed in between a commentary about the City’s heritage as we chugged slowly down the canal setting up a neat contrast between the old and the new. First up Raju Mali’s piece entitled Home, a gentle folk tinged musing on his sense of belonging. There’s a touch of Jeff Buckley to his vocal in places together with a hint of that wonderful quivering (I think it might be called a wide vibrato but I could just be making stuff up again...) edge that runs through a lot of traditional Asian music. Not being of Asian heritage myself I can only guess at what it must be like growing up with that dual cultural mix, although happily we’re now living in an age where the lines are getting pretty blurred as ably demonstrated by Raju's poignant performance.
Next up some inspiring spoken word courtesy of Amerah Salah, who was rather splendidly bedecked in a bright pink silk bow tie. You don’t see enough bow ties these days, let alone pink silk ones. Asking us all to close our eyes (maybe to prevent us from being bedazzled by the tie) she flipped the brief on its head a little taking a more inward looking approach. It was a thought provoking piece (hopefully it and all of the other performances will be uploaded soon) taking in everything from accepting who you are, how you look and how you see and treat others through to seizing the day and hugging “like it will be your last”. What a wonderful sentiment eh?
Last up the effervescent Alisha Yasmin Kadir with Your Child, a touching track reflecting the fact that she’s partially a product of Birmingham’s “concrete streets” but equally the people that inhabit it. I’m guessing the line about being “A child with a lack of four walls” could be construed several different ways but bobbing gently along I took it to be an overwhelmingly positive reflection of a City that’s happily free of barriers and prejudice, an epithet that could equally be applied to the entire Eastern Electronic Festival itself.
Find out what else the Festival has to offer (there are a wallet/purse pleasing bunch of free events too) right here!
PS: You can take a trip on the canal...minus the music...via Away2Canal