Ravi Shankar – Barbican, London (Live Review)

Billed by the promoters as the great man’s final concert and by Ravi Shankar himself as hopefully just a semi-final, this gig was as much a homage to the man as a chance to hear him play one more time


The first part of the concert featured his daughter Anoushka on sitar. After a shaky start in the Alep of the first raga, she grew in both confidence and passion, her interchanges with the table player were a particular joy.
Ravi came out after the intermission, looking frail. He had another musician tune his sitar, he sat on a box rather than the floor and held his sitar across him. Always a player who used his whole body to coax the sounds he wanted from his instrument, Ravi now had to rely on his knowledge and dexterity, still undimmed.
The result was a thinner sound than one has been used to from Ravi but nevertheless quite wonderful. With only a few minutes to go before, possibly, his last ever concert in London was to finish, something of the old Ravi came out and he could have been thirty years younger for those last great moments. The standing ovation was assured.

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