Sunday, February 10, 2008

The One Tree Festival 2008

We go to a concert, The One Tree Festival 2008, in Bandra Kurla, Mumbai. Joe Bonamassa warming up for Robert Cray. No, I haven’t heard of them, either, but Rock Boy is very excited. The ground’s as big as two football pitches. We trample our way to the front, so we can see the sweat dripping off their brows, and smell the WD40 on the guitar pegs. There are four other people in the grounds, but we still manage to bag our pitch.
Traffic is the curse of this city, so we set off in good time, and meet none. We arrive, therefore, nearly two hours early, when the scrubby car-park has yet to be transformed into a magical arena. Even after whiling away time with coffee, we’re still unfashionably ahead of ourselves, uncoolly first in the queue. (We don’t learn: invited out for eight on Friday, we arrive at eight, and the men are still putting the decorations up and unloading glasses onto the bar...)
What Roland doesn’t tell me, before dragging me out of arm’s-reach of my wardrobe, is that the concert’s open-air. Not a sari in sight. Rock chicks wear jeans – well, not this rock chick, obviously. I’m dressed for an indoor no-I-won’t-have-another-olive-thank-you kind of an evening, not bivouacking on canvas in front of 10,000 watt speakers. Nor is it helpful, that people are now drifting by in fleeces, carrying backpacks of all-weather gear and storm-lanterns. The girl in front’s wearing not only a woolly, hooded jumper and scarf, but also fur-lined boots. We’re in the Tropics, the nail-paring of a moon is lying on its back, not balancing on its point, and she’s wearing fur-lined boots. You can see how, in my shivering georgette, I might hate her.
The stage set’s built with scaffolding more robust than anything we see on a multi-storey construction site, here. Well, it’s metal, for a start. Still secured with rope, though.
When the pre-amble recorded music starts, it’s so loud, it makes my sternum rattle. I think I can feel an attack of arrhythmia coming on, but Joe Bonamassa comes on instead. I patently have sole rights, as far as ignorance is concerned, because the Indian fans around us are all singing and waving and shouting requests. We’re not the only wrinklies, I’m thankful to note, Mumbai has its share of senior citizens with a taste for the blues. (Unlike the Van Morrison concert we attend in the UK, where the coach-trips are evidently booked through Saga...)
As a race, Indians are more finely-built than we burly Western types. How unlucky is it, then, that I spend the second half directly behind Mumbai’s largest son, not only tall, but broad-shouldered and shaggy-haired. I jiggle and bob about, trying to see. From behind, this may well pass for dancing, so it’s not all bad news.
Robert Cray turns out to be v.g.. Well done, Robert. Also by this point, I have Roland’s jumper (donated, not requested, nota bene), thus am feeling a lot more receptive to the Muse. The keyboard player and bassist are about 105 each, but, as the years roll by, I’m increasingly inclined to think that ageism’s wrong. Rob (I call him Rob) has the crowd eating out of his hand and baying for more. Well, I think they’re baying, but they’re very polite about it, which I think nonplusses Rob a bit. The pigeons tumble off their roosts with the final encore, and we slope off to find Monu in the car-park, before the mass exodus. Unbelievably, he’s asleep.
Still, we’ve done a rock concert now. Roland owes me at least one chapatti-making demonstration, a Happy Divali card workshop, and two cat-shows.