Jodhpur's 'crazy' spirit comes alive at RIFF
Endless energy and an audience intoxicated by the infectious beats and French and Spanish numbers - Paris-born Manu Chao thumped his chest with a mike and screamed, "You crazy Jodhpur", in response to the adulation and applause that he won upon his maiden visit and performance in India.
The audience roared with encores for the five-foot-something man, who, along with his band, justified all the hype surrounding his visit to the ongoing Jodhpur Rajasthan International Folk Festival (RIFF).
He uplifted the joie de vivre of the audience here way past midnight by belting out popular numbers like "Me Gustas Tu", "Bongo Bongo" and "Mala Vida".
He can sing in languages like French, Spanish, English, Italian, Galician and Arabic. What he served to music aficianados here was a mixed bag - difficult to comprehend, but easy to sway to.
Such was the magnetism of his performance that young or old, everyone joined in the celebration of life even though, for most of the audience what he was singing was obscure. Thus the thought, "music transcends language" literally came true at the open air, Old Zenana courtyard of Mehrangarh Fort here.
Before the performance began, Chao was introduced as someone whose linguistic abilities have drawn a larger circle of fan base. Even though his songs are happy and breezy, the lyrics are often "thought provoking" and issue-based, highlighting discrimination and immigration troubles.
For many, he is a political commentator, lending a voice to his opinions through music.
Given the fact that he began his performance with "shukriya Jodhpur" (thank you Jodhpur), he had to incorporate "you crazy Jodhpur" post "une fois de plus" (once more in French) requests from the audience.
There were many foreigners who were well-versed with his popular numbers and they sang along with him too. For many Indians, this "unknown" artiste turned out to be a "class" performer, about whom they would try to find out more.
Hemant Chauhan, a visitor to RIFF from Delhi, said: "I hadn't heard him before this performance. But he was just awesome. I will look for him in Google and get to know more about him."
His performance wasn't a one-man show. He was accompanied by two guitarists, and a drum player from the Netherlands-based La Ventura band. Together, the four of them played for around two hours, and obliged the audience thrice with equal gusto and enthusiasm.
Not understanding the language wasn't a bane, as many catchy phrases from his songs had become an anthem for the audience members, who didn't shy away from giving chorus and singing along with him.
Drenched in sweat and yet not showing any sign of fatigue, Chao concluded the concert with "Shukriya India".
And all that we could say was, "You crazy Manu".
(Posted on 19-10-2013)