Farid Ayaz Qawwal & Brothers
, live at Liberty Hall, Dublin
In many ways, Qawalli
music has it all: committed and intense vocals, call and response chorus and verses, syncopated rhythms, and great group dynamics. On top of the devotional Sufi content and strong testamental power, it still retains the music-for-converting-people aspect of the Persian marketplace. Songs of poets, prophets and Islam, sung with suasion and passionate spirituality, sung with physical-performative rhetoric and virtuosity. Eight mustachioed musicians in the party; an amazingly dynamic song structure and ordering and dynamic control, hands reaching out like conduits. Fine voices with great sustain. The spinal tingle of the first group note and devotion to Allah. A group can say so much more than a single singer… spirituality begins in numbers.
Musically, it’s where Arabic vigour and lilt meets Indian precision and rhythm. It’s so much more passionate and lively than your average white Christian band testifying to ambiguity in a church; it’s people-to-people spirit, just as at home on streets as concert halls. Even if the evening didn’t quite match the expected pyrotechnics of the great Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, there were moments I was lifted inside.