An event of freshness, an evening of platitudes; an exhibit of the established, a reception for the returnees; a toast to innovation, a demonstration of good ol’ randomness – The Score’s band-launch for The Captains of Hook, which also featured an intro by Blues Conscience, was an elegant oxymoron which gave most of us a reason to smile at either end of the contradiction (or so it seemed)
Some Clues About The Openers
Started in 2008, Blues Conscience was quick to establish itself as one of the big-daddies of Blues Rock in the country’s performance circuit. Clad in semi-formal outfits and bowler-hats, the three-man band opened the evening on a traditional note with an original. At the very outset, the fact that they did not stick to the conventional idea of the Blues was most striking – even the slightest trace of melancholy couldn’t be sensed. In fact, the only feature of their music which continued to hold my confidence in the idea that I was attending a Blues concert was the pronounced sense of soulfulness which dominated their lyrical, rhythmic and melodic themes.
To my mind, Anek Ahuja – vocals and bass – steered the gig with a style which could be somewhat likened to the sort of happy soul that Eric Clapton put into his 70s sensation, ‘Bell Bottom Blues’.
The initial apprehension of the crowd, which was reflected in the sizeable distance they maintained from the stage, was evidently subdued in no time. Aum Janakiram – Vocals and Guitar – manoeuvred his fingers to render a wonderfully articulate introduction to their next piece, ‘Tipalo’, and the crowd had gathered around the stage, bobbing their heads and bouncing their knees in keen appreciation.
Tipalo, in particular, drew my attention to another aspect of this band’s style:
The difference between Rock & Roll and traditional Blues, in my idea of the two genres, is that the former is something which through its deep lyrical quality and simmering melodic scales, makes me spontaneously want to sing and dance to; the Blues however in its soulful staccato urges me to lie low, reflect and introspect.
Neil Smith – the drummer – shuffled a very peculiar set of beats which gave the music a certain groove, the kind of groove you’d normally associate with general breeds of Rock. Additionally, stanzas like, “moving colours, now they’re swirling, in my cup of tea..”, invoked a strong sense of imagery, characteristic to both the Blues and Rock. As the song progressed, it only grew increasingly evident that the band was influenced very fundamentally by Rock & Roll as well. Their music is deep, lyrically rich, and it has a pronounced groove to it. This is probably why the audience was quick to gel themselves with what seemed relatable on conventional terms.
In addition to all that, the wonderful chemistry between the members of the band added to the overall flavour of the music. It was a treat to watch Aum and Anek indulge in regular, excited face-offs of sorts and observe Neil, who was at the backdrop, maintain a very jolly sense of composure, dallying, eyes closed, with the shuffle of his beats.
The trio presented a few more own compositions and they concluded their gig with an all-time favourite number, ‘Kamasutra’, which they dedicated to the Captains of Hook.
The audience was warmed up and post the sensational and rather surprising show rendered by Blues Conscience, Symphony Hall was sizeably packed and thirstily waiting to witness the Captains of Hook – the much awaited ‘comeback trio’ of the season.
CAPTAINS OF HOOK AHOY!
Started in August 2011, The Captains of Hook are a music trio which pose themselves as a response to their recent departure from their initial roots, i.e. Junkyard Groove. Amidst the clamour and curiosity of a packed hall, the trio was quick to arrange themselves on the stage, greet the audience with a few inaudible non-fluencies; a nudge & a gesture here and there.
They began their gig with one of their popular numbers, ‘Fairytale’. To those who have followed Junkyard Groove rather closely, the fundamental similarities in style between both bands would have been more than evident. For instance, the overlapping of the drums with the chords and articulations of both guitars, all at once, immediately reminded me of a similar phenomenon which I witnessed in, say, ‘Folk-You’.
Although this aspect was definitely catchy, I felt a tad bit drab, given the extent to which I had heard Junkyard Groove and gotten rather sick of the various imitations of the same that various bands had tried to replicate post the former’s introduction into the city’s music scene.
However, I would not go as far as to accuse the Captains of Hook of being banal in any way as this is essentially their own style of music and it was them who pioneered this apparent ‘musical haphazardness’ in their numbers. The audience evidently loved what they were listening to and I even heard a lady exclaim quite loudly after the first piece that she was “relieved to have the boys back in their element on stage”.
They then went on to present a few more pieces, which included covers like ‘Beautiful Delilah’, ‘Hold Me Tight’ and ‘Good Golly Miss Molly’. Similar to Blues Conscience, it is very hard to package the Captains of Hook into a defined genre. Each piece happened to reflect something which happily ranged between, or included a combination of, Alternative Rock, Metal and Classic Rock.
By the time they arrived at their sensational and very popular composition, ‘Galaxies in Coffee Mugs’, I understood something quite unique about their style. Siddharth Srinivasan – guitar/vocals – and Craig Maxworth – bass/vocals – appeared to add to the rhythmic scheme of their music in a very interesting manner. In addition to allowing Hudstin Fernandez to set the underlying rhythm of the compositions, both guitarists added to the rhythmic flavour by accompanying the drum beats through very distinct twangs, variations in the pitch of their chords and structured articulations. This was by far the most pleasing aspect of their entire gig – the sheer cohesion with which instrument and artiste complimented each other.
The regular eye contact, unified shoulder movements and body paces that all three shared was something which prompted the audience to cheer with the band’s exclamations every now and then. It was a pleasure to watch how the audience not only connected with the music, per say, but also with the fundamental ‘josh’ with which the band unfurled their every piece.
The evening was concluded with ‘Preacher Man’, again, one of their very popular pieces and the audience was left, quite expectedly, asking for more!
In its entirety, the evening was a definite treat to any music enthusiast. To have a band with a repertoire as expansive as Blues Conscience along with an emerging music trio like the Captains of Hook – which exemplifies a blend of most popular mainstream genres today – under one roof was a Saturday night well spent on every count!