Remember Shakti Centre for Performing Arts, Vancouver BC - September 23, 2003

From the moment these four musicians stepped on stage to the time they took their final bows, a large weeknight audience hung on their every movement, enraptured by Remember Shakti's virtuoso playing and spiritual verve. Comprised of guitarist John McLaughlin, tablaist Zakir Hussain, mandolin player U. Shrinivas and percussionist V. Selvaganesh, Remember Shakti is the postmillennial reincarnation of Shakti, the pioneering '70s-era fusionists of Western and Indian music. McLaughlin and Hussain were part of the original formation, and in their latter-day guise the legends hold the torch firmly aloft, proudly passing it along to their humble young charges. Throughout the evening the veterans directed the audience's attention towards the younger players, happily making way for Shrinivas's precise runs up and down the mandolin's tiny fret board, and Selvaganesh's trance-inducing drum forays. Of particular note was Hussain's incorporation of a snare drum and hi-hat into the mix, as well as McLaughlin's use of a laptop synthesiser, which he triggered through his guitar. The quartet played material new and old, and while one of Hussain's newer vocally-led numbers lacked polish, the group's interpretation of "Ma No Pa" went down a treat, as McLaughlin's restrained blues licks dangled peaceably over Hussain's mesmerising tabla runs. While the quartet's instrumental skills were truly awesome, what was most impressive is how joyful the players were; with each solo foray, each member seemed to be trying to impress the others, eliciting smiles on-stage and sending gasps through the adoring throng. This was a night to remember.