Queens Hall Edinburgh
Nitin Sawhney first came to me at the end of the 90’s. when I purchased Beyond Skin, A masterpiece from this young composer deep in Asian mystery and ethnic flavours and spiritual raptures. the perfect blend of world flavours and historical importance that is a thoroughly rewarding journey from start to finish. Divine was hooked. Then when I emigrated to Adelaide in 2000, I found Nitin Sawhney;s first Album “Migration” In a 2nd hand Music shop It was so relevant and the title track and intro. Migration itself. Became a staple in the Divine Chill Cannon. (Have always got 2 copies just in case).
Fast forward a few years and I am going through the throws of a relationship breakdown. Stuck in a cycle of forgiving and self-healing. I bought Nitin Sawhney’s new Album “Human” Baby it was my life story and spoke directly to my soul. Human became my fave music as therapy long-player, Nitin Sawhney got me through a very difficult period of life. Just like Beyond Skin, Human is all killer tunes and melody.
In 2005, I was walking the shadows of marriage end and had returned to Auld Reekie to journey the process. Had seen that Nitin Sawhney was headlining The Big Chill Festival so booked a space in The Big Chills Healing Village. Minky was reading the I Ching and I was on Tarot, Clairvoyance and Reiki. We had a brilliant time The Weather was lovely. It was there I saw The Beat for the first time too. Good Time.
And so for the reason that I visited this lovely festival. Nitin Sawhney’s Closing performance and my first time of seeing this musical master live. One has to remember the political climate at the time, the aftershock of an illegal war and justifiable outrage of what we had just lived through, it was the year of the Tube and bus bombings in London. Tony Blair was losing the plot, paranoid over the mistakes that he had made.
So let me set the scene, it was a beautiful August summer evening, The sun was just setting, lots and lots of happy smiling faces gathered in anticipation of a calling to witness and indeed for Divine it was his first time, to relish this musical mastery. It was because I loved the source material so much. And to hear it performed live for the first time was pure spiritual and musical ecstasy. It was the closing number, a song called The Conference. A Sufi Hymn a voice and tabla passion piece. Performed with big projections of TB on his anti-Muslim tirade, it was such a powerful musical statement, Angels poured into the Auditorium, It was a really important Rock N Roll moment. One where one had to pinch oneself to make sure it wasn’t a dream. After the performance, I looked at a guy and we both just said wow, did that really just happen.
I bought Nitin Sawhney’s new release “Immigrants” last week so am just getting into its musical mysteries. From Migration to Immigrants its been a long musical journey. Its why reviewing Nitin Sawhney on Sunday at Queens Hall is so important to me. His work is always vital and relevant to my life ❤
The Last few years have seen an unprecedented level of political confusion and negative representation of immigrants across western countries. These representations are entirely at odds with the historical benefit of migration to Europe, North America and Australasia. As an artist, I have always avoided politics as much as possible. In music, didactic messages very rarely wield the same power as emotional expression. However, I do have one strong belief, that every newborn child is of equal value regardless of who they are and where they come from. It is only the turbulent worlds of politics creed, economics, race, nationality and social disparity that people continue to be devalued and dehumanised.
In 1999, I released an album called Beyond Skin. which was a sonic polemical reflection on nationality, race, religion and identity. I have released many albums since but none of them were as personal nor cathartic as “Beyond Skin” was to create and also to subsequently perform.
This new album, entitled “IMMIGRANTS” was always intended to be a sequel to “Beyond Skin” It is a musical celebration-of Immigrants all over the world and it showcases and features work inspired and contributed to by artists who themselves identify as, are from immigrant heritage or wish to express support of those international immigrants who have found themselves judged or disadvantaged by pure accident of birth “IMMIGRANTS” is an album of unique collaborations with an aim to redifine our perception of identity and the universal language of music.
Nitin Sawhney. (From the Immigrants sleeve notes.)
THE DIVINE VERDICT
The audience of tonight’s performance was hugely supportive and appreciative of tonight’s opener. Natty, real name Alexander Akiloe Philip Modiano. A one-man reggae explosion who moved from San Fransico as a child at the age of one-year-old with his parents to live in London. Having started writing songs at an early age, he eventually found himself working in a London recording studio as a tea boy before working his way up to become a sound engineer, working mainly with indie rock acts. He decided to put a 4-piece band together and began playing at open mic nights before launching his own eclectic club night Vibes and Pressure.
With songs drawn from his first two albums “Man Like I” and “Man Like I & I” With a wealth of performance experience including an American tour in support of Ziggy Marley. One could feel and hear the spirit of the great Bob Marley being channelled for the performance. Indeed some of tonight’s audience had come to see and receive the gifts that Natty had to offer. Not so much warming the crowd but indeed, melting them. Just perfect. 5 Stars. ❤
Nitin Sawhney. Composer, Guitars, Keyboards and Vocals.
Shapla Salique. Vocals
Ashwin Srinivasan. Flute.
Eos Counsell Violin.
The amazing Aref Durvesh on Tabla’s
After Natty’s brilliant warm-up. Nitin Sawhney took to the stage with his band of accompanying musicians, with Queens Hall being a relatively small venue it was easy to be upfront with an intimate appreciation of proceedings. Nitin Sawhney gave his supporting band members front of stage limelight and each of tonight’s performers beautifully brought a selection of tunes, on the whole from his 1999 epic album “Beyond Skin” and its follow up and most recent release “Immigrant’s” To life.
YVA and Shapla Salique performed beautifully the songs taken from Beyond Skin. songs that were crafted 20 years ago, songs that hold as much relevance now in today’s Brexit Britain as they did pre 9/11. Broken Skin, Homelands and Nadia To a masterclass in Tabla and voice for a perfect rendition of The Conference, with a lesson in how to count to 5 in Hindi. perfectly complimented the new material. Movement 1/Variation 1 with Eos Counsell taking the lead with her beautiful violin. (Divines fave from the new album) and Sawubona featuring Natty on lead vocal. Immigrants is as near perfect as a long-player can be, captivating and relevant. with lyrical dexterity and musical ecstasy. Indeed the jewels contained within are working their way onto my subconscious with repeated joyful plays. Immigrants is becoming as much of a loyal friend as Migration, Beyond Skin and Human. Immigrants live was as near perfect as the recorded source material. But then I didn’t expect anything less.
Words: Mark ‘Divine’ Calvert
Photography: Raymond Speedie