The Best Musical Performance I’ve Attended

I live in India, South India and I’m atleast an overnight journey (by bus or train) to both Chennai & Bangalore in terms of a city that can attract an internationally famous band like Iron Maiden, Deep Purple, Metallica or such. When the bands do come I’m usually not able to attend, as I have to plan my travel, stay and money for tickets which all together will cost me a nice bundle. I’ve always wished that we could get some of these bands to travel to Cochin for a concert or two.

Back in the 90s, just after I turned 15, I used to go to concerts performed by local bands from Kerala. My cousin Manoj & I were and still are huge fans of rock music and we’d try to attend all the concerts that took place in our city. Some of my other cousins would join as well and it would be fun as the cover bands would play all our favourite songs and we’d have a great time singing along and jumping around. There seemed to be a lot of rock & metal music enthusiasts ranging from the ages of 14-40 during those days at these events and chances were that you all had the same albums as each other. For a few years there would be a concert atleast once a month and then it stopped for a while until picking up about 5 years ago.

Anyways I got to see the heavyweights of back then 13AD and Shiva plus a few other good bands. During 1995-96 I lived in Bangalore and attended two concerts there. One was about 3 months after I started living there and featured a local Bangalore band and a Chennai band who were very popular at the time. All covers mind you but the bands were good. A funny incident happened that day, but that’s for another blog post. October 1995 also saw the biggest band India has ever produced, Indus Creed (previously known as Rock Machine) perform in Bangalore. And they had mighty thrash metal band Millennium open for them. I just had to go. About 20 of us from the college I was attending joined me and we descended on the grounds where the concert was to be played.

I was actually held up at the security check point by a stupid cop, who was suspicious of my asthma inhaler. I tried explaining to the jerkoff what it was but he was eyeing me with malice and I thought that the handcuffs would come out. However the organizers of the event was in collaboration with a big Medical College and most of the volunteers there were medical students. A couple of them spoke to the cop on my behalf and managed to get it by his thick skull that what I had in my hand was medicine. I was allowed in after a 5 minute hold up. Maybe they should have asked that cop to donate his brain for science – “unused and in pristine condition”!

Anyways, we had a couple of filler programs and my friends & I hung out at the back until Millennium got to the stage. Crunching guitars, vocals that you can’t understand but some awesome guitar work and us headbanging. There were atleast 30,000 people there that night, including some of the hottest women the city proudly claimed as their own. 90 minutes or so of the Bangalore based metal band and then Indus Creed took to the stage. They played songs from their 3 album repertoire and we rocked out. They played a lot of covers too and had a couple of political messages as well. It was an awesome night and everyone was tired as hell from all the shouting, singing, yelling, jumping around and moshing. By midnight it was all over but we still had a long walk (no buses at that time) ahead of us to get back to where we were staying. It was so worth it though.

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The Ground Cries Out – Jeff Martin 777

For those of you who do not know, Jeff Martin is the former lead singer & guitarist of Canadian trio The Tea Party. He began his career as a solo artist in October 2005, when The Tea Party disbanded. In 2010, Martin began work on new music with Jay Cortez and Malcolm Clark (formerly of¬†The Sleepy Jackson) for a new album, his second solo studio effort, to be entitled¬†The Ground Cries Out under the new bandname of¬†Jeff Martin 777. On March 20th, I’d posted a video of Jeff playing a solo acoustic version of one of the songs from this album, Riverland Rambler.

Jeff Martin’s music, both with his former band and his solo stuff, has a timeless quality to it. He borrows from 1970’s heavy metal bands like Led Zepplin and mixes the heavy blues with Middle Eastern influences and creates a totally different sound. He is ably assisted in this venture by J Cortez (Sleepy Jackson/The Armada) on bass and Malcom Clarke (Sleepy Jackson/The Basement Birds) on drums. With that middle eastern melody, The Ground Cries Out starts out with the title track, mysterious elements mixing with a rock drum groove. More Southern rock sounding Queen Of Spades has this semi-acoustic 12 string guitar riff that is so infectious & groovy. This song is made even more enjoyable by the accompanying of a clapping track in places. Pure 70s music.

She’s Leaving starts off very quietly, as a melodic acoustic guitar starts things off to be joined by Martin’s perfect pitch voice. It’s a lament of someone who has left his love to be lonely for too long. And it builds up slowly as it moves along. The Cobra has this amazing riff first with acoustic & then an electric guitar that “snakes” (pun intended) through the song as it builds tension. The symphonic interlude of this main riff after the first verse is so strong, I could just listen to a loop of that all day. 1916 is a propulsive blues track which is about a man begging his lady love to take him back and all the things that he would do if she would. With an Oriental/Chinese sounding melody, let The Meekong take you away to a far away land, where things are different from your world. You may even find yourself checking to see if it was the same CD that u were previously listening to!

One Star In Sight is an acoustic driven number that brings back memories of 70s bands, with warbling sounds and steady strumming of guitars. Blue Mountain Sun is a gentle instrumental with jangly acoustic guitars accompanied by the beautiful pedal steel versions that makes it sunny and warm. The song actually remind me of a flowing river or a pond. Santeria maintains the acoustic theme yet augmenting it with electric guitars, drums & bass. Martin excels at the story telling kind of song and Riverland Rambler is no exception. It tells us about an alternative kind of minister who is ‘cool’ and thumps the bible at the same time and has a large following. Finally we have The Pyre is a stomping rock groove track which has this stop-start riffage with rich orchestration that makes it a stand out track and a great album closer.

Jeff Martin is looking to do things his own way and keep his influences & tastes on display for others to discover & enjoy. Here;s the video for first single & title track The Ground Cries Out.