AS I was walking to the car park after the Earth, Wind and Fire concert I’d dreamed of since I first heard their stuff in secondary school, I heard some lady say this…

“Actually they only have one or two (hit) songs loh … Only the last few songs, like September… (voice trails off as she can’t name any of the other songs).”

I could almost scream. The masters of funk had just performed a perfect set at the Sunway Lagoon Surf Beach, Selangor; a superbly crafted 90-minute showcase of pure musicianship – no pauses, none of the usual concert histrionics, no phoney speeches with the obligatory “tuh-ree-muh ka-seeh”; just pure, unadulterated music – and this woman reduces them to a one-hit wonder.

Honestly, I felt almost depressed.

The three remaining members of the original EWF line-up, Philip Bailey, Ralph Johnson and Verdine White, had led their band through a silky smooth and at times roof-raising run of all their best tunes – Reasons, Devotion, After The Love Is Gone, Sing A Song, Got To Get You Into My Life, Let’s Groove and many more.

The original members of EWF - Verdine White, Ralph Johnson and Philip Bailey - still had the goods.

The original members of EWF - Verdine White, Ralph Johnson and Philip Bailey - still had the goods. - Photos courtesy

These are songs that have defined funk/soul/R&B andmusic as a whole, songs written out of pure inspiration and genius, and performed with equal amounts of ability by musicians whom I consider to be part of music’s royalty.

But guess what? Most of the audience only got excited when the intro to September was played, and that was the second-last song.

It was symptomatic of a problem I’ve had with modern music for some time now. Virtuoso performances and good music these days are of less value to music “fans” than the empty worth of a single’s hit factor and danceability.

People now are more interested in novel songs (that lose their novelty factor in two weeks when the next novelty comes along) that catch their fancy and tickle their shallow music sensibilities; while the appreciation of music as the ultimate combination of poetry, sound and live performance as demonstrated by EWF last week is left to a minority.

The problem isn’t with the artistes as many of the contemporary ones are still producing the goods; but it’s up to the music fans to start looking beyond the charts and clubs for good music before we all turn into vacuous music illiterates.

* Have to give a big shout out to my friend Joshua Chay for scoring me tickets to the show, and for the photos. Check out his blog!

The kids are fine

We’ve seen two major over-reactions in football over the past couple of weeks.

First of all, some journalists implied that Manchester United’s Anderson, Daron Gibson, Kiko Macheda, Danny Welbeck and Gabriel Obertan had no future after they lost one game. In the Champions League. To the Champions of Turkey (Besiktas). By a single goal.

Obviously, the “Fuming Fergie” headlines were churned out again as Sir Alex Ferguson understandably jumped to the defence of his young stars. He was promptly proved right when eight members from that same team of youngsters defeated a full-strength Tottenham Hotspur team 2-0 in the League Cup in their following game.

The second over-reaction came after Arsenal’s own version of Fergie’s Fledglings (Anak-anak Arsene?) lost in the League Cup to Manchester City.
This time however, the over-reaction came from Arsenal’s manager, as Arsene Wenger edges closer and closer to the dark side from which he invariably loses his way and entire seasons’ worth of good work.

The red mist is descending over Arsene Wenger again.

The red mist is descending over Arsene Wenger again.

His team has only lost two games in a row, hardly a setback a team with such talent, quality and form will find difficult to overcome. Yet he’s already bristling with his seasonal us-against-the-world diatribes to anybody that will listen; and nothing can be more detrimental to a group of youngsters’ mental focus than to see their fatherly figure going on such an unseemly verbal rampage.

It has been an extremely unfortunate fortnight for Wenger, with the loss of Robin van Persie for the rest of the season, the subsequent hammering by Chelsea for which van Persie’s absence was a huge factor, and his anak-anak losing to a full strength Manchester City team.

But the way he and Fergie dealt with their respective cases of over-reaction might just be an reflection of the edge which the Scot has over Wenger, and if he snaps out of his current rage in time, he might just have a chance of salvaging the Gunners’ season.

Tell us what you think!

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