Original and emotional. That’s the best way to describe Prem Joshua and his music. This multi-instrumentalist and composer mesmerised an audience gathered at The Savera Hotel, for a fund-raiser in aid of the National Association for the Blind.
The international band consists of pioneers of an eclectic sound that draws its inspiration from India’s musical traditions and contemporary Western music. Joshua, who lives in Goa, India, from October to March, shifts base to Italy for the rest of the year. “Chennai is special and close to my heart, and I am glad to launch the first concert for the season in this city,” he said. (As a side note the German musician added that living in India has made him a coffee connoisseur. “ When in Chennai, I must have cups and cups of filter kaapi.”)
The band’s performance was rooted in Indian ragas and rhythms, where western musical instruments embraced Indian lyrics.
Guest vocalist, Mahesh Vinayakram took centre stage, and the jugalbandhi was a treat. “For us, it was indeed an honour to have shared space with a great artiste such as Mahesh. And we will be collaborating more in the future as well,” Joshua said.
The first song ‘Guruve Saranam’ rendered by Vinayakram, was a salutation to Ganapati. It was followed by tracks from his earlier albums.
All the ten songs performed featured both Indian and western instruments. Vocalist Joshua played the sitar, saxophone and the flute. The harmonious unison of the Indian instruments and drums and keyboards sounded both mystical and meditative, transporting the audience into a quiet, almost trance-like state.
Joshua is one of the highest-selling World Music artistes in India, and has released 18 albums so far. His most recent album is titled Breath of Voavah.
The artiste has performed across the world with his band, which comprises musicians from different musical backgrounds. Dondieu Divin, trained in classical violin and piano, handles the keyboards. He is of Indian origin and lives in France and India. Percussionist Raul Sengupta, plays the tabla, darbouka, cajon, congas, percussion, besides vocals. And Satgyan Fukuda, one of the finest bass players, has been associated with Joshua for a long time.
The highlight of the evening was ‘Cosmo Bali Tan’, ‘Dance of Kali’ and ‘Chandra’, which offered soul-stirring moments, interspersed with a vocal rendition by Joshua and Vinayakram.