I’m not one of those people who always has tickets or passes for every event in town; concerts tend to come and go without my being any the wiser. In any case I’m usually too busy downloading free mus—I mean educational videos, off the internet to actually go.
The most exciting musical event I can remember was the Amnesty International concert that passed through Delhi in 1988 on its six-week world tour, and brought me within a few worshipful yards of Tracy Chapman, Sting, and my then-hero, Bruce Springsteen. I was practically asleep by the time Springsteen came on, but I woke up for long enough to emit a couple of faint hoots of appreciation.
As a college student I set out to watch Morrissey perform in New York, almost exclusively because he was once part of a band called The Nosebleeds, which is the sort of excellent name I would call my own band if I had one. That evening was a disaster because I was surrounded by hulking great hooligans, who pressed forward in one tidal motion towards the stage and almost crushed the breath from my body. I spent most of the concert safely on the sidelines, concentrating on inhaling and getting over my near-death experience.
Also in college I went to a Roxette concert the day before spring break. My friends and I were aware that Roxette was terminally uncool, but we secretly loved them and didn’t want to think about what that meant, and spent good cash that we didn’t really have on second-row seats which made us feel like royalty.
There have been a couple of other gigs, but they’ve all been quite uneventful. In my underwhelming career as a concert-goer I’ve never done anything remotely mad or fan-like, unlike my groupie grandfather who used to follow classical Hindustani musicians from venue to venue to attend their all-night performances in various cities.
The best concert story I know involves a friend of mine who in 1978 jumped onstage during a The Police concert in Bombay and snatched the drumsticks out of Stewart Copeland’s hands, while the security guards became agitated and Sting gratifyingly yelled into the mike, “The Police to the police: f*** off!” He (my friend, not Sting—though, of course, Sting too) features on the video recording of the concert, to the mortification of his children (my friend’s, not Sting’s), and still has the drumstick (Stewart Copeland’s), which his mother (my friend’s, not Stewart Copeland’s) used as a duster.
This week I attended the Vanessa Mae concert in Delhi, bringing my grand total up to the staggering figure of, barring minor shows here and there, maybe five. Vanessa Mae, for anyone who like me had never heard of her, is a woman who looks like the Singapore Girl, but better, and not just because she was born in Singapore. She’s taken the violin out of the venerated but slightly stuffy world of classical music and brought it to the quite interesting intersection of pop, rock and electronica.
These days music is no longer just listened to, but also watched, and a woman who impulsively jumps atop passing cabs, and once delta-glided down from a mountain to perform on the frozen lake at St. Moritz, knows what showmanship is all about. On Tuesday she played with and easily outshone sitaritst Nishad Khan who, for all his virtuosity, is simply not as pretty; and while he sometimes raised his eyes to the audience, this was as nothing to Vanessa Mae’s rock star moves in her blingy high heels. I was mesmerised for a while, but by halfway through the evening I was starting hopefully out of my chair every time she waved at the audience.
What do I know, though; I still like the Beatles.