The Alliance Française keeps up the tradition of celebrating the Fête de la Musique, a festival that has spilled over the borders of France and is celebrated all over the world today. Hyderabad, as usual, is a wee bit tardy to respond, but for the select audience at The Tulip Manohar yesterday, it was indeed a grand fête.
In charge of the evening's entertainment was Le Groupe GMT, a two-member band featuring French guitarists Bernard Montrichard and Mansour. Two men, two guitars, four hands, twenty fingers… and I still can't believe it! They filled the Crystal Palace, the banquet hall where the show was on, with such an amazing stream of melody that it was tough to believe there were only two musicians playing. Trying to figure out what chords their fingers touched was impossible as their hands flew all over the place strumming the strings, touching the frets and making sweet music.
The Francophiles there, be they of French origin or French-speaking Indians, had a treat. The rest may have been a li'l flummoxed, but when it came to the last song no one had much of a clue as to what the lyrics were. It was in Senegalese.
Mansour, the vocalist of the group, especially charmed the socks off the audience. Fiddling with his magic black box, which could make his guitar sound like a Mexican acoustic one moment, hard-core electric the other, and even exotically Arabic at times, he had everyone enthralled. With a very cute accent and a cuter smile, he stumbled through what few words he knew in English, lapsing into French most of the times. The audience was very helpful however, helping him translate.
The initial numbers were primarily instrumental, with a few adaptations of numbers by masters like Jimmy Hendrix and John McLaughlin. Then came a few numbers of pure French origins. "Les Enfants Terribles" was a really nice number, though it's mystifying how such a lovely song can be written about brats! Then there were a couple of songs that the musicians had composed for their kids. Mansour sang one for his son Hamidi and another song for Montrichard's daughter Lola.
The last song, as I mentioned earlier, was a Senegalese one. Its main refrain is supposed to mean "I am not a white man, I am a black one." And it is supposed to be a joke. Funny or not, it was definitely the peppiest song of the evening, getting the audience clapping in tune with the song. Mansour summed it all up by letting us know that he knows his guitar upside down. He played the last strains with his teeth, and then reverted to strumming with his hands, but this time holding the guitar behind his back. Good show Mansour, but it ain't cricket to show off to someone still struggling to master C-minor!