Live Review

Nitin Sawhney, Shepherd’s Bush Empire

Though a solid performance all round, you are left with a sense of detachment.

To specifically coin Nitin Sawhney as world music can easily be misleading and yet justified. Such an association lends itself to be one that is culturally informed and complex, yet retaining an accessibility.

As a composer and well rounded musician, Sawhney has an accomplished career spanning two decades and several albums, has a comprehensive list of collaborators under his belt as well as cultural affiliations in juxtaposing himself with the mainstream. BBC, Jools Holland, Mercury Prize nomination for his breakthrough album ‘Beyond Skin’, such recognition has clearly cemented Sawhney in high credibility.

The opening tonight sees Sawhney on acoustic guitar with the rest of his troupe managing the drums, tabla, cello, flute and vocals. This concoction makes for a heady yet calming affair, setting the tone perhaps for the rest of the evening. Ethnic sounds of the tabla and flute, female vocals interspersed with Bengali vocals manage to sound different without being contrived.

The songs continue with flamenco influences and others abound, amidst the Eastern sounds that permeate. Too often, however, there is a lake of warmth and connection, the musicianship and vocals pleasant enough but often feel like déjà vu and one finds their mind and eyes averted. In saying this, there are moments of brilliance to be noted, highlighted in the speed-infused tabla solo as well as the collaboration with Natty on standout track ‘Days of Fire’.

We see Sawhney flitting from keyboard to acoustic guitar, always remaining nondescript. Interjecting when needed to introduce the other members, you are left slightly disappointed with Sawhney’s apparent reluctance to engage with the audience. Though a solid performance all round, you are left with a sense of detachment, applauding with enthusiasm as though you are just going through the motions and feel that you have to.

Read More

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Stay Updated!

Get the best of DIY to your inbox each week.

Latest Issue

April 2024

With Bob Vylan, St Vincent, girl in red, Lizzy McAlpine and more.

Read Now Buy Now Subscribe to DIY