The Clore Ballroom, Southbank Centre, London
Saturday 17th September 2016
As we enter the Royal Festival Hall at the Southbank Centre, London, we are immediately met with a lively, invigorating and happy buzz. It is the penultimate day of the Darbar Festival, a celebration of the melodies and rhythms of Indian music and Flux are scheduled to perform their debut album ShadowLines in The Clore Ballroom.
By the time we arrive an eager and high spirited queue is already waiting to be allowed entrance to the seating area, and once the signal is given, it doesn’t take long for the large number of seats to be quickly filled. What is so thoroughly refreshing is the wonderful and genuinely multicultural audience in attendance along with a spectacularly diverse age range; it is so nice to see small children not only welcome but clearly having fun and sharing the sense of expectation and anticipation.
The atmosphere is friendly, gently vibrant and warmly welcoming; it is not long before people strike up conversations, share stories and generally relax into each other’s company as they wait for the performance to begin. Barely ten minutes later, after a few brief words of introduction, Flux take to the stage amidst an enthusiastic wave of affectionate applause and excited murmurings.
ShadowLines is a delightful and utterly enchanting debut album which sees this 4-piece London based band blending musical influences from all over the world and drawing on regional forms of folk, indie, even urban sounds and styles of playing. These are infused with strong cultural textures supplied by European and Indian classical traditions with the odd feint echo from South America and Asia.
From the outset they are absolutely captivating and completely enthralling. There is a natural dynamism at work within the band, an ease of comfort with and an assured confidence in, the skills and virtuosity of each other’s playing. It’s a relationship which breathes an infectious energy and lively spirit into the music they play, and creates such an electrifying and vivid presence on stage.
The set-list is primarily comprised of material drawn from ShadowLines and four songs in we are treated to the most exquisite performance of Sundown, featuring a guest appearance from Sabiyha which leaves many in the audience totally enrapt and visibly moved. The delicacy of her voice is hypnotic, yet underpinned with a power and conviction which is penetrating and demonstrative. It is a wonderful combination.
Yet such is the diversity and scope of their musical vision that we are then offered a new and as yet untitled song featuring the vocals of Anirban Bhattacharya. It begins slowly, carrying on the gentle, haunting echoes of Sundown yet steeped in rich classical Indian melodies and tones, but proceeds to become increasingly lively and vigorous as modern renditions and rhythms take hold of this beautiful and engaging heritage and gives it a thoroughly contemporary sound and pulse, racing to a frenzied, breathless climax.
By the time we reach the final song for the evening there is little doubt that the alluring elegance, the intricate finesse and the captivating joyfulness of both the music as well as the playing holds everyone completely spellbound in a happy reverie. I will confess that at the end, I simply sat for a while, lost in the moment and feeling perfectly content and peacefully happy. Such was the power of the experience, the graceful artistry of the musicianship, the mesmerising beauty of the music that you simply have no choice but to surrender, to become caught up, to live in the unexpected joy and the exuberant passion of the moment.
This was a remarkable, refreshing and quite superb performance, on so many levels. If you ever get the chance to see Flux in concert, don’t hesitate – not even for a second. It is a rare gift in these noisy times to be given the chance to musically lose oneself in happy rapture. It is a gift you should not overlook if the opportunity ever arises.
This review first appeared for The Progressive Aspect
Sundown featuring Sabiyha
“Untitled!”- new composition featuring Anirban Bhattacharya
Piece by Piece
Michael Goodey – Piano, Guitar
Preetha Narayanan – Violin
Shammi Pithia – Bansuri, Cajon & Piano
Suroj Sureshbabu – Guitars & Percussion
Guest Appearances for this Concert:
Anirban Bhattacharya – vocals
Sabiyha Rasheed – Vocals
Jack Ross – Guitars
Vikash Sankadecha – Percussion
Matthew Winter – Bass
Band Website: http://www.fluxofficial.com/