Friday, May 13, 2005

We thought he'd play

I had read somewhere that if Shakespeare lived in today's times, he would never have written Hamlet. He would still be promoting Romeo and Juliet. This notion became clearer when I went to watch Joe Satriani at Planet M last evening with a couple of colleagues from office.

Truth be told, I had not heard of Joe Satriani before a colleague of mine, (I'll call him A since I haven't asked him if he'd like to be written about on my blog) rhapsodized over how great a guitarist Joe Satriani was. He could make the guitar come alive and play chords that shifted the centre of your soul, etc. etc. Both attributes, to a non-musical person like myself, seem wholly undesirable but then I don't know any better.

So I got curious. Apparently, this musician is a rather big deal because his biggest influence is Jimmy Hendrix and has been the teacher of other musicians such as Steve Vai. So, basically he has learnt from the best and the best have learnt from him. A sort of musical Socrates - Plato - Aristotle triangle going on here. Then I met several other people who learnt their guitars after listening to Satriani. This man had obviously shaped and solidified the aspirations of many many people. Therefore I went.

There were, umm, some people - in terms of numbers, I've seen a larger crowd at a Planet M sale. Several knew of him, several were just there hanging around because seeing a rock star is a really big deal, and very few people, like the people I'd gone with, really really knew about Satch's (by the way, this is what he's called) craft.

And Satriani didn't play...at all. He spoke, giving inane answers to assinine questions, 'How do you find India?', 'What do you think about Mumbai?', 'What's the best part about performing live?', etc. etc.

Oof! I'm not even a fan of the guy, but shouldn't a musician be playing music instead of holding a mike spouting platitudes? Okay, okay, so he'll be playing at the concert that one needs to pay for. But come on! A few chords wouldn't have hurt, would it? I mean, it was like little children being let down by Santa.

After all, what connection did these people who held up their guitars like pseudo-musician warriors have with the person on stage they kept referring to as 'god', 'Guru', etc. etc.? It was music. And yesterday, at Planet M, a musician did not play any music. By doing that I think he refused to acknowledge that connection that had brought all these people together. Okay,
it may not have been his idea but, and this is a big but, how can an artist possibly turn away from the patrons of his art?


I dont know about music or about this particular musician, but I know disappointment when I see it. And well..there were several disappointed people there. A was considerably let down and was not appeased at the explanation that this was only a promotional gimmick. He, very
woundedly replied, "Satriani doesn't need promotional gimmicks."


Well, as I'd read somewhere else, 'If commerce is the dog, art is the tail..and the tail never wags the dog.'

Joe Satriani plays today in Mumbai - Friday the thirteenth. The coincidence, I think, is fitting.

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