Super Slow Way partnered with Love & Etiquette to bring an incredible night of Spanish Flamenco and Sufi Qawwali to Burnley Mechanics Theatre in a unique exchange of music and culture. Founder of Love & Etiquette Rizwan Iqbal talks about the night in a guest blog post.
Monday’s Flamenco Qawwali show at the Burnley Mechanic Theatre was announced weeks ago, and, during most of the publicity it looked like it could’ve been criminally undersold (for the band’s stature and quality). By the time Calaita Flamenco Son and Fanna-Fi-Allah Sufi Qawwal hit the stage, the theatre was filled out to the sounds of Flamenco guitar and Qawwali beats in front of a packed audience singing and clapping to every note.
Calaita Flamenco Son lead the first half hour with a mesmerising display of ancient vocals and elegant guitar instrumentals. Following the Flamenco performance, we first watched a heartfelt trailer clip from Pakistan which showcased a documentary on the history of Qawwali music. Enter the stage Fanna-Fi-Allah with the melancholy Dil Jis Se Zinda Hai (With whom my heart is alive) continuing into the interval with Punjabi inspired Qawwalis, that emanate from the stories and lives of the Sufi Masters of India and Pakistan.
Until now, most of the audience in attendance had only seen both groups through online videos and social media performed in far and distant venues and countries. However, the audience was now captivated by an intimate and close encounter with all musicians, some even handing over money on stage to show their appreciation for the music and lyrics on show by Fanna-Fi-Allah. This act is also synonymous with the Indo-Pak tradition of appreciating artists and show of affection towards the artist and spirit of performance.
Songs old and new are markedly different live in the style of Fanna-Fi-Allah and with the much anticipated collaboration of Flamenco Qawwali, Fanna-Fi-Allah opened up the final set with Man Kunto Maula which received numerous requests from the audience on the night with occasional and polite shouts from the audience during the first half and interval.
The last 45 minutes of the set had the audience spellbound, giving their full attention. The run started with the famous Qawwali number Man Kunto Maula and leading straight into a Flamenco Qawwali collaboration of Allah Hoo. The exchange between soaring flamenco and Qawwali vocals, quick guitar and harmonium finger movements, pounding cajon and tabla drum beats were a match made in heaven.
The Flamenco Qawwali collaboration closed with the world famous Dam Mast Qalandar with explosive improvisations between both groups never performed before, which says a lot about the quality of artists on offer.
With both bands in high spirits stepping into the unknown, but historic, trail of gypsy music routed in the Silk Road, the live show on Monday night proved that the art of the possible is possible.
Super Slow Way and Love & Etiquette will be bringing Kinara Festival to Pennine Lancashire this July – a month of performances, exhibitions and workshops exploring the art and culture of the Muslim world.