My protracted absence on this blog, an oft repeated occurrence, this time was a consequence of a refreshing information diet - a blog/internet free diet to be exact. At the expense of my new found ignorance and stupidity, I suddenly found so much time to invest in delightful activities - concerts, drama, dance performances and yoga. In no particular order, let me introduce you to each one of them -
Concerts: Dream Theater, Ozzy Osbourne, Nile, Cthonic, Daath, Slayer, Marilyn Manson and Immortal.
Drama: Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream".
I'll share my thoughts on each one of them.
Though Dream Theater have sort of been pushed to the edge of my current likes, I always jump at a chance to see the live as they are such great musicians. As always, they did not disappoint - they churned out 2 hours of perfectly executed music. In the four times I've seen them, I've always been a little put off with the vocalist but this I was totally surprised by his tight performance. They mostly played songs off their latest album but it was a great concert on the whole.
Coming to the prince of darkness, Ozzy Osbourne - I realized that I've never seen Ozzy perform his solo career songs (I think the first Ozzfest I attended back in 2002, he performed from his catalog as a solo artist but I have no real recollection of the performance). I've always seen him perform with Black Sabbath. That coupled with Ozzfest being free this year, I decided to go in the last minute. I was totally blown away with the tour de force that was his performance that night - yes his voice is mostly off key, it cracks every now and then but his incredible exuberance and the crowd pleaser that he is, he blew away everyone in the audience. Of course having such a splendid band - Zakk Wylde and Bob Blasko - makes not having your heart leap in joy a very hard thing to do. It took me back to my engineering days when Ozzy was a major part of my music collection. All the lyrics that I used to marvel at while singing along with Ozzy came back to me in a rush and singing it aloud with the rest of the crowd was a real treat!
Nile - what can I say about one of my favorite death metal bands. They absolutely blew me away. Of course, joined by totally crazy headbangers and standing in the first row made it a no brainer. I've seen Nile about 4 times and each and every time, I am so impressed by the intensity of their performances. Though they have added more orchestration in their music, the quality and intensity have stayed right up at the top. The venue was a small rock club and I was able to meet everyone in the band. Its the umpteenth time that I wished I had a camera. A last thought - if you want to watch just one death metal band in your life, make it Nile.
Cthonic is a band that reminds me early Cradle of Filth and they hail from Taiwan, an atypical country of origin for a black metal band. Their music has elements of Taiwanese culture and it makes it so appealing. I highly recommend listening to the two LPs they have out. The lead vocalist is an asian version of Danni Filth, I kid you not. I really enjoyed their performance. Top shelf black metal - there is something appealing about buzz saw guitars over a base blastbeat drum pattern tempered with searing vocals and embellished with folk instruments such as the violin.
Daath - supported Nile on their outing - they are a death thrash metal band from Atlanta. Though they have some elements of melodic death metal - some synths and industrial rhythms, it was thoroughly enjoyable.
Slayer - thrash metal at its absolute best! razor riffs blasting away at break neck pace, headbanging and mayhem everywhere you look - this was an awesome concert, Slayer slays!
Marilyn Manson - though I am not totally into his music, I like quite a few songs and not to mention his style and his showmanship! I quite liked his performance.
Immortal - what can I say that hasn't already been said by more capable individuals - this concert ranks very high in my list of all time favorites. Blistering black metal tempered with very rhythmic heavy metal patterns brought the entire crowd to a frenzy! We even met with the band later, took some photographs and had them sign a poster.
Moving on the Shakespeare's play - A midsummer's night dream - this was part of a series called "Shakespeare in the park" where a professional theater company stages a production of Shakespeare's plays in the park. This event was the quintessential picnic - sitting the shade of lovely broad trees drinking wine with cheese and crackers. The production was a contemporary adaptation and was staged with a lot of pomp. My only grouse was that it was a long to hold everyone's attention in an outdoor setting.
Riverdance - I attended a performance that I've been wanting to attend ever since I saw a telecast of the show 6 years ago on Star World in India. Riverdance - <--begin clichéd adjectives--> an awe inspiring, mellifluously refreshing, foot tapping ensemble <--end clichéd adjectives--> that fuses elements from Celtic-Irish tap dancing, Russian ballet, flamenco and urban street dancing. Diverse as they might seem, their adaptations to a unifying musical score of Celtic music with instruments such as the violin and other traditional instruments. Check out youtube to get an idea of what a show this is. I highly recommend this as a tonic for a soul that is weighed down by the banality of life.
One of the best things I've done is to join yoga in the iyengar tradition. For the last two months, I've been religiously at it and the benefits on my sense of physical and mental well being have been phenomenal. I feel wonderfully light and supple - my back and spine do not seem like they are a gnarled tree trunk, my body itself does not feel like that of a whale (on land mind you). The instructor is part of a lineage of disciples of the original iyengar tradition that spends decades in the tutelage of BKS Iyengar himself along with his son. My mind always goes back to school days where yoga was forced on us and I can't recall anyone who gave a damn about it and here I am harping about how great it makes me feel.
Well, enough about me now. I trust you had a great time as well. Do tell me about it.