April 6 2016
With a new album Land Of Gold released literally just five days previous, Anoushka Shankar entered Toronto’s Koerner Hall to be greeted by an appreciative sold out crowd. This was the sitar players third appearance at this venue.
The show began with a dark, lengthy intro that had Sanjeev Shankar carefully watching for when to come in on Shehnai (a reed instrument) while Tom Farmer on keys stayed far out of the way until finally triggering some vocal chant samples near the end of the piece.
After a brief stand-up bass solo from Farmer, drummer Manu Delago kicked into a racing tempo that had Anoushka blazing away at high speed. Shankar clearly enjoys it when Delago pulls out his most propulsive drumming.
Forty minutes into the program, Shankar spoke about the inspiration behind the new album being the recent transplanted refugee controversy before Delago began “Crossing The Rubicon” with serene percussion before switching over to almost rock-like booming drums. A vocal sample of M.I.A. announced the beginning of “Jump In (Cross The Line)” which also had a spotlight devoted to chiming percussion played on Hang drum and acoustic bass.
After a beautiful reading of “Secret Heart”, Shankar introduced her band members then discussed the meaning behind the albums title track. The live version of “Land Of Gold” is rendered even more poignant without Alev Lenz’s lead vocals as heard on the album. Played as a delicate instrumental, with Farmer bowing his bass, this gem was a clear highlight of the show.
The main part of the set finished up with “Disolving Boundaries” and “Reunion” delivered with a fun up-tempo rhythm.
For the encore, Shankar sat directly near the lip of the stage closely surrounded by her support group. The gentle “Say Your Prayers” ended the evening with a sense of dignified grace.