Meribel Apres Ski ReportMeribel Auditorium is an unexpected surprise
25th March 2012
On Tuesday night I had the pleasure of going to the Meribel Auditorium for the first time ever. Upon entering the venue I was surprised on a number of levels:
- firstly, that I had never been there before
- secondly, the quality of the venue with its modern looking interior, high quality equipment and mammoth sound desk.
- and, finally, that there aren’t weekly events happening in such a great venue
The auditorium has a capacity of 300, seated. It is a purpose built building with a nice sized stage, a great lighting rig and excellent acoustics. The venue is often used for corporate and private events but as far as gigs, shows and concerts go, it is a bit of a hidden gem in Meribel.
Located by the Tourist Office, just next to Le Pub, the Auditorium played host to Tuesday night’s performance by Susheela Raman. Born in London, of Tamil descent and having spent her younger years growing up in Sydney, Australia, Raman draws musical influences from all over the world, and it shows!
The show started with a brief introduction in French before Raman came onto the stage accompanied only by her guitarist. The two played an eerie opening number made more so by effects on both the voice and guitar. Although quite a mellow song to start with, Susheela delivered her words (presumably sung in Tamil) with passion, hand movements gave the illusion of somebody literally throwing lyrics at the audience. This theme remained throughout the show with Raman’s face contorting with each word she sang, adding to the emotion of every single song.
For her second song of the evening she invited her violin player out onto the stage. Still not appearing after calling him onto the stage three times Susheela looked as if she was going to begin without him. Thankfully he stumbled out onto the stage just in time dressed in a traditional Indian ‘Sherwani’ (a type of long coat) and looking like he had wandered in from the set of ‘The Darjeeling Limited’. I don’t know whether getting into his Sherwani or straightening his hair was the reason for him taking so long to get onto the stage but this minor hiccup endeared the band to the audience who chuckled as he shuffled quickly over the stage to his position. He soon redeemed his late arrival with expert playing, the speed and precision of which had the violin sounding like I have never heard before. If I had closed my eyes at points I could have easily been listening to a flute or even a sitar.
Finally a bongo player was introduced to the audience and the band was complete. As a full band, Susheela and her men have raucous energy which is often replaced unexpectedly with an eerie calm as their songs rise and fall in pace and volume. With her band behind her and a song reaching its often dramatic climax, Raman could easily be fronting a stadium filling rock band. With as much passion as Bono doing a favour for Geldof and as much (to be expected with ‘World Music’) new age arm flailing as a raging hippy let loose at ‘Burning Man Festival’, Susheela Raman gives a captivating performance.
Singing in different languages, including English, the show was varied enough to keep my attention for the duration, despite the music being a genre I am yet to explore at any length. Towards the end of her set Raman invited the audience to their feet; an invitation which was gracefully accepted. The first few rows of the crowd appeared to be the diehard Susheela fans with some even singing along whilst mimicking her wild arm movements.
I am happy to report that I was very impressed with the show and couldn’t help but admire how truly involved Susheela seemed to be in every word she sang, even a barely recognisable but highly enjoyable version of Hendrix’s ‘Voodoo Child’. I can’t say that I am fully converted to ‘World Music’ just yet but I will certainly give it more of a chance in the future. I’m most definitely converted as a fan of the Meribel Auditorium, however, and will be watching their schedule closely for future events.