For the last stop of their 2020 Australian tour, Deva Premal and Miten with their guests Manose and the Temple Band arrived in Sydney to spread their message of peace and healing with a rapt audience. Performing a selection of chants and original songs, the group provided a concert high in energy and passion.
The duo Deva and Miten have both had long solo music careers but their joint endeavours focus especially on the healing power of music and helping their listeners find complete wellness. As the performers entered the stage amongst the scent of fresh rose petals underfoot, the audience demonstrated their devotion with hearty applause and a palpable reverence. There was little applause throughout the concert, other than after some particularly lively numbers, because Deva explained the group prefers to do away with the division of audience and performers, instead allowing the silence to reverberate with a shared connection.
The group’s music is classified as New Age, combining an all-sorts spirituality with multi-genre musical influences including jazz and reggae. Manose is a Nepalese flute player trained in the North Indian classical tradition of raga music who is well-known for his improvisation. Combined with the many instruments played by the members of the Temple Band, the sounds of the concert were eclectic and varied. The group are most well-known for their mantras. Borrowing texts from spiritual and religious traditions across India, Nigeria, Tibet, and beyond, the group sets them to music to create a sensorial experience that engages the body and the mind in recitation. While many of the songs are in their original language of origin, loosely translated by Deva and Miten to explain their calls for compassion and peace, the group also performed some original English songs written by Miten, including a sweet dedication to Deva in celebration of her birthday and Valentine’s Day.
In all the ways the concert may have already differed from one of the typical pop or rock variety, perhaps the most remarkable aspect was the reception of the performers by the audience. In some ways the concert had more in common with a gathering at a Buddhist temple including the traditional Nepalese banners Manose made to decorate the theatre with physical representation of the Gayatri Mantra but also how the group projected the lyrics to their songs onto the stage, encouraging the audience to engage as fully in the mantras as them. For many, the lyrics were unnecessary as they demonstrated how well-versed they were in Deva and Miten’s music already, singing along immediately. From the front row, a couple explained that they’d brought along their 9-week old son because he was already familiar with the group’s music from listening to it in the birthing unit. It seems the group’s message of compassion and connection through the similarities of humanity resonated widely in Sydney and called forth many passionately like-minded audience members.
With the close of the final song, Deva, Miten, and Manose gathered to wave goodbye as the audience filed out of the theatre, sillily stupored by the long evening of dance and song and many with a mental peace to match their tired limbs.
On the Wings of Mantra was performed at NIDA’s Parade Theatre on February 14th