Review – Swami at Dundas Square
Let it be known, that I have seen Swami perform three times now, and on Friday June 26, 2009, I witnessed the best Swami performance.
Swami weren’t going to let the flash mob that was poised to do their thing deter them from performing at Dundas Square, in fact the band seized the opportunity to make some new fans.
The group ran the same set twice, kind of odd, but it worked in their favour. As they took a break between sets, the Square became alive with MJ songs being played over the speakers, and an already large crowd became larger.
Kicking off the second set with Swami’s own tribute to Michael Jackson, by performing “The Way You Make Me Feel,” the crowd’s attention was quickly diverted to the stage, as Swami introduced to the masses of people their style of music.
The group went on to perform tracks from “Desi Rock,” “Equalize” and their two new tracks “Sugarless” and the even newer track “Tonight,” which will be featured on the “53431” compilation.
I shot a couple of videos, and they were a bit better quality compared to the ones I took last year, but I really need a Pocket HD Camera (Kodak do you hear me?)
Even though the diverse crowd was vibing to everything, definite crowd favourites were “Electro Jugni/She’s Mine,” “Desi Rock,” “Sugarless” and “Hey Hey.” Personally, I have a new live favourite in “Don’t Hold Back,” – and Sups sings it better live, compared to the original vocalist Jagz does on the album – the chorus makes a person just get into it.
“Picheh nehio hatna, DON’T HOLD BACK! Asa picheh nehio hatna, DON’T HOLD BACK!”
Swami perform Electro Jugni/She’s Mine (Check out Sups’ vocal range)
“Tonight” is the second of two new original songs that will be on 53431. I’ve heard it live three times now, and I have to say that the percussion on this track is bloody wicked. Wait until you hear the blend of the dholak, dhol and the tabla high drum. I shot the video mainly to let you guys get a gist of the track. So pardon the video quality, as well as the bumping bass line that the mic couldn’t handle.
The “Sugarless” download post, has quickly become the second most viewed post on the blog, but I like this track more than Sugarless at the moment, as the lyrics are a bit deeper.
Moving on from the songs, I have to publicly state that Sups (the lead singer) doesn’t get enough props with his vocal talent. You put this guy up against any other UK based singer in his age group, and I say he can top them with vocal range, and in live performances. He uses no backup recording! The man is a great showman, walking into the crowd whilst singing, as well as taking people’s video cameras and filming himself – and the crowd – is something I don’t see enough of these days from singers.
As in any band, each member brings something specific to the group, and with this group that is largely evident. Diamond drew huge cheers from the crowd for his guitar solo during “Tonight.” Liana was cheered for her ability to perform the Hindi lyrics in “She’s Mine” without faltering, along with being able to carry her notes in all of the other songs. S-Endz’ reception was great as well for his rhymes and energetic jumping and gesturing across the stage.
I must admit, it was a bit of a downer not seeing Bobby Panesar (the Dholi) here this year. According to the group, he had some business to take care of in the UK, and could not get the schedules to work out. I’m glad however, that the group decided against not bringing in another Dholi to take his place, because Bobby P’s skills on a dhol are EPIC.
The Next Step for Swami
I’m not sure I know how to break the news to you guys, because it came as a shock to me as well, but the 53431 album will be the last of it’s kind. I have been made aware that the compilation album not only celebrates the last ten years of Swami, but it also signals the end of an era. Future projects involving Swami will be an all-English affair. As you read this, I’m sure the group is putting the final touches on the lyrics of the English version of “Sugarless.”
Back to the gig. The band performed for just under two hours, and within that time slot, they made a bunch of new fans. Just from where I was standing, I had people behind me asking to clarify what the new album name was, as well as another lady asking me for translations. But I think the biggest compliment the group could get, was when a young man came up to me to ask if this was Bhangra music? As I told him it was, he lit up and said, “this is [expletive] sick!”
Swami perform “Sugarless” (The crowd may have been skeptics at first, but quickly converted. Thus the power of Swami)
I got to mention that during “Intoxicated,” Sups and Liana called upon some girls to come onto the stage to dance, as well as a guy named “Future” from the crowd. This guy was breaking all over the stage, and he ripped it!
All in all, I’m glad the evening worked out for the group on all fronts. I want to add that thundershowers were forecast for Friday evening. Swami have had some bad luck with inclement weather over the past year here in the GTA (It even rained during their Mosaic Fest performance the previous week.) But it looked like the Music Gods shone down on the group, and I’m glad they did, because like I said, the energy the group brought to the backdrop of the bright billboards of Dundas Square that night was uplifting.