Shaman Symphony

Hilight Tribe's Friday evening gig in the Capital exuded a pure joyous kinetic energy

Going to listen to Hilight Tribe perform is a kind of a Shamanic experience in itself. The French-origin band travels around the world, living and sharing experiences and translating these into percussion or string-based pieces. It is this kaleidoscopic auditory journey around the world that the band brings on stage. Armed with didgeridoo, sitar, guitar, too many percussion instruments to tabulate, and several other instruments that an experienced roadie crew might grimace at handling, the six-member group play tunes that have crossed the sun-baked Sahara, the mountains and plains of India, and a dozen geographies in between.

In Delhi and Mumbai to play at Blue Frog, the band's Friday night performance at the Capital saw a throng of people eager for tracks such as Shankara, Free Tibet, Didjedelik and Area 51. As Greg and Ludo, the band's key players, flourished the didgeri and the djembe respectively, the crowd went wild. Didjedelik is one of the band's classics and a great first look at the basic sound of Hilight Tribe.

Perhaps it's because of the instruments they play, interspersed with Sanskrit shlokas, Buddhist prayers and Native American chants, that the band's sound appears a primordial one, connecting with listeners at an organic level. Using these sounds, they transmute the mob into a single, cohesive tribe, however briefly. For the one-and-a-half hours that Hilight Tribe played, the audience responded and moved as one, radiating a massive joyous energy, which was almost tangible. When they chanted their final verses, hung up their instruments and said their final namastes, it was like watching a spell break. The tribe of people slowly fragmented back in to a crowd, but there was a beatific expression on every face. Perhaps that's just what this tribe highlights through its music. The need, every once in a great while, to just let go and be.

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