Inconcert: Funk the dumb stuff

Flying FunkBy the day of the event many variations of the I don’t give a flying funk concert were coined — what the funk, funk it, funk the night. Ignoring the fact that the moniker was a bit of a misnomer, the musicians in the backing band showed that they had the funk in them. In fact, ‘backing band’ doesn’t do justice to the likes of Louis J. Pinto aka Gumby and Omran Shafique. For some of the tracks, the vocalists were almost unnecessary; the audience response was a testament to that.

A few weeks ago Summer Jam had showcased some of the same musicians and the feedback and turnout were fabulous. I don’t give a flying funk somehow didn’t pull the numbers. At the tail-end of the Karachi summer, too many reasons can be cooked up. The venue was not packed but there was an interactive audience. Too interactive, one could say, as certain gentle(?)men did not know when to shut up!

Before other moments can be glorified or can be said to have rewritten lyrical history, it has to be said that Rachel Viccaji did not do justice to her numbers, the attempted backing vocals or the attempted vocal hijackings. Also, if you want to provide backing vocals then learn the lyrics. At the risk of sounding presumptuous, it can be said that she has a promising voice but lacks the ‘feel’. Perhaps in the recording studio, with different takes and with post-production elements, a vocalist can achieve tonal variations, warmth and even emotion. On stage, where an audience engages with the senses of both hearing and seeing, expressions play a big role. According to one of the vocalists present that night, emoting is 80 per cent of a live performance. A certain level of unease was present in Rachel Viccaji: her body language and her vocals did not engage the audience as well as, perhaps, the guitarist.

When speaking of abstracts like “feel”, it is hard to communicate the exact meaning. More than comfortable in his own skin, on stage Omran plays without pretensions and as his expressions reflect, he has fun up there. And to debunk the myth that those who play with feel do without skill, his talent is self-evident: his skill is not in enacting complicated cold riffs but in manipulating all that he knows into this art form that also carries those listening into another stratosphere.

Sharing such chemistry is the lean powerhouse Gumby, who with a flick of a wrist can silence a crowd or get them on their feet, dancing. Often, while listening to other drummers in the industry, one is inclined to say that we have many great drummers. Then Gumby enters the house and casts a tall shadow on the fraternity. He went through songs like The Pretender by the Foo Fighters, Baby Love by the Supremes, Get up, Stand up by Marley and Rock ‘n’ Roll played on by Bonham. Need one say more?

There was an understated presence on stage, as often bassists tend to have. Khalid made every one of these songs possible: funk has bass with a punch and a curve. Keeping the rhythm section tight with Gumby is no mean feat and Khalid stands solidly on his own. Front of stage, the bass was a bit subdued though the genre the night subscribed to would demand otherwise.

Sheldon and Tanseer Dar were vocalists who had also performed at Summer Jam. Soulful, with the right bit of grit and oodles of fun to listen to, Sheldon hit the right notes with songs like Stevie Wonder’s Superstition and Rock ‘n’ Roll. To slather on the cheese, Sheldon had the groove. Dar, on the other hand, rewrote lyrical history. Dar did a good job with The Pretender as not many people can achieve that vocal tone. And all those vocalists out there: no paper reading of lyrics. If people take time out to come watch you, make the effort to learn the words.

A welcome addition to the line up was Taimoor Salahuddin from Lahore. Singing on Come Together, Taimoor did not leave the audience wanting. A tough song that seems deceptively simple, Come Together has a confusing set of lyrics that are hard to emote to and even harder to retain (this was witnessed in the pre-concert cramming). Yet, this Lahori did more than justice to The Beatles. If he gets his own music together, this singer/song writer will be something to look forward to.

– By Halima Mansoor

Source: DAWN.COM | Images