On April 25,2013 Raghu Dixit, the self-taught guitarist and singer performed at Striker in Gurgaon. Traditional Indian sounds mixed with Western influences were like a workout for the vocal chords and as he strummed away on his guitar, singing all his popular numbers he reminded us, the mere mortals what it’s like to have an out of shape set of vocal chords!
The evening began predictably with “Hey Bhagwan” his most popular number which is about the celebration of life and getting another chance at it, followed by an energizing set of Kannada songs inspired by Shishunala Sharif, a saint and poet from Karnataka. I always heard people talking that music has no language, but after seeing the crowd swaying to his music without understanding the lyrics, I actually understood it!
As a performer, Dixit is so amped up that sometimes the crowd struggles to keep up with him. Imagine a room full of north Indians singing “lokada kalaji” in Kannada and also before he made them sing, in mock stoicism he stated, “I am from Bangalore and not a Madrasi”. He is very sharp about the audience reactions and is playfully unforgiving while engaging with them on a personal level.
Just like his songs, he is simple yet complex, familiar still distant and his music deep rooted in folk tradition with universal appeal. The crowd’s frenzy was a testament to the venerability of this Indo World Folk Rock Band comprising of Gaurav on bass guitar, Wilfred on drums/percussion, Parth on flute and Lewis on guitar and as for Raghu, draped in a colorful lungi he looked every inch the folk rock star he is!
As the evening progressed, he entranced the audience with his soulful and foot taping numbers like Ambar, Masti ki basti and Har saans Mein. Out of these “Har saans mein” literally took my breath away. Being a personal favorite, I have listened to this song many a times on CD but when I heard Raghu singing it live I could actually connect with the Sufi connotations the song carries. Playful but serious, such is the power of his performance! “Yaadon ki kyari” was another number, through which Raghu took the audience back to the pleasure seeking innocent antics of childhood.
The evening was coming to an end and I was waiting for another of my favorite numbers “No man will ever love you like I do” but Dixit was ready to wrap up or maybe it was a part of his charm that he again put on his guitar and sang the beautiful number which makes you yearn for your partner if he is not with you and if he is with, you than you want to listen to those three magical words again which come off as relatively straightforward on the surface but have a deeper meaning!
And Thursday’s fantastic show also was an example of how a perfect ambience can enhance the experience of a live show for the audience. Striker has nice and airy layout and good sound. So, no sweat trickling down your bodies whilst enjoying a stellar performance and a chilled mug of beer! I would definitely go and see him again. His music has left me in a trance and it doesn’t look like I am coming out of it anytime soon!