Ravi & Anoushka Shankar

Live shot

Anoushka Shankar
Anoushka Shankar (Photo By John Anderson)

Ravi & Anoushka Shankar

Paramount Theatre, Sept. 20

"Frankly, I don't have much interest in music," admitted a bemused Dalai Lama to more than 10,000 Austinites at the Frank Erwin Center only hours earlier. "Irritated by the noise," via a disarming anecdote about being woken by a disco in Berlin, also responded to the perfect local query for his Holiness. Of course there's intrinsic value in any "Message of Love," he acknowledged, and while the Hendrix reference was naturally lost on the rock star divinity, his audience with Anoushka Shankar in 2003 belies his affected crankiness at human entreatment. Shankar preceded another mystic at a palace fit for just such a dignitary, the Paramount's Ken Stein opening the evening by comparing the occasion to the theatre's historical greatest hits, which include Harry Houdini and Orson Welles. Another daughter of planet Earth's patron saint of the sitar wasn't precisely magic in her 40-minute opening set, leading 10 musicians through layers of Indian Raga Sangreet, but Anoushka Shankar didn't warrant a disappearing act either. Tabla, flute, violin, and a chorus of entreaties both sung and sounded out cushioned the droning strings of a 2,000-year-old classical music bearing little resemblance to Western classical music. Here, rhythm and not movements moves listeners to trance. That Shankar only contributed a short aside to the assemblage's round robin soloing was a troubling sign put to rest in the second set. Opening with a 30-minute raga every bit as galvanizing as his Monterrey Pop ascendance almost 40 years ago, Ravi Shankar proved that while the fire no longer scorches à la Hendrix, walking across his still burning coals remains nothing less than an ecstatic ritual. The 85-year-old who changed music forever still bends strings that would snap in lesser hands. With a sorrowful look of concentration, the elder Shankar led his quartet through dialogues of exotic splendor, yet it was his daughter Anoushka with whom he sought the heart to heart. Whenever she soloed, Papa watched carefully, and when she finally broke free of her studied middle ground in the last half of the 90-minute hypnotism, he pointed and waved in delight. After that, their sitars danced together like father and daughter at a wedding. Music such as this could only irritate oysters.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Music Reviews
Sunday ACL Fest 2019 Record Reviews
Rosalía
El Mal Querer (Record Review)

Christina Garcia, Oct. 4, 2019

Texas Platters
Atlas Maior
Riptide (Record Review)

Michael Toland, June 14, 2019

More by Raoul Hernandez
Harry Chapin: When in Doubt, Do Something
The "Cat's in the Cradle" musician who was so much more

Oct. 23, 2020

New Austin Music Worth Your Bandwidth This Week
New Austin Music Worth Your Bandwidth This Week
What we’re listening to

Oct. 23, 2020

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle