- Created on Sunday, 23 August 2009 07:34
I'm sitting here in Cleveland airport waiting for the plane to Chicago, a little tired after a short night...but excited to be writing to you all and share with you what happened last night.
Some weeks ago Miten and I had a phone call from Cher's office regarding her using The Gayatri Mantra in her upcoming concert tour. I was so happy and excited, and of course agreed immediately! [Are you kidding!?] Cher's musical director is also a fan of The Essence, and told us both his children were born to it!
When Miten and I came to America for our June East Coast tour, we were hoping our schedules would allow us to catch the show. The only possible time was Cher's Cleveland concert, which fell between our Atlanta and Chicago events. So we flew to Cleveland with Paritosho [our tour assistant] for the great event...
Our comp concert tickets had been arranged, and they were perfect, 4th row from the front. Of course we were hoping to meet Cher backstage after the show, but we weren't holding our breath. I tried not to build up any expectation about actually meeting her, telling myself that it was already enough to hear the Gayatri in her show.
The stadium was packed full....soooo many people... I had never been to such a big concert before, especially in America, and that, in itself, was quite an experience! Our seats were just a few meters aways from the stage. Behind us the audience seemed to stretch out forever.
Cindi Lauper was the opening act, which I totally enjoyed... didn't know much of her music, but of course even a little New Age fairy like me has heard of such great songs as Time after Time, and True Colours! And 'Girls Just Wanna Have Fun' !!
Finally the lights went down, and the roar of the crowd went up...Cher!
The band sounded great... A video of her was projected onto the stage.... then suddenly the curtain opens, and there's Cher, 40 feet high, standing on what looked like a huge chandelier. Then the chandelier is slowly lowered earthwards, but... (gulp) she isn't! Her feet are starting to dangle in the air, and all I can see is her mouth wide open... screaming or singing? I don't know which! On stage there is a big commotion going on, obviously something is going very wrong, and the curtains are closed again.... the music stops, and we are all left in the anti-climax... bewildered and hanging...just like Cher!!...wondering what went wrong... all this was definitely not planned!
What a weird scene... the big star dangling 40 feet above her audience in the opening song... a nightmare for her I'm sure, to say the least. Eventually a spokesman comes out, saying they had some technical problems, and asked for a little patience while it was sorted out.
After a 10 minute wait, Cher herself suddenly walks out and greets us all! The atmosphere has changed. No big star entry... just the star laughing with us. She is so sweet and lovable, and I immediately fall in love with her humour. She's saying that she was 'shit scared up there', because all she had was a little harness, and had really no idea, if she was going to come down alive..
"I'm so happy to be here tonight, in fact I'm happy to be anywhere after that!" It was so great how she took it, and how unpretentious she was. We could laugh with her rather than at her (and it definitely qualified as a Spinal Tap classic!). So... after greeting us, she opened with a powerful version U2's, ''I still haven't found what I'm looking for.'' (''...I have climbed the highest mountain, only to be with you, only to be with you..'') No need to mention that the stage was outrageously lit, the dancers were amazing, the sound was great, and the whole show was simply a blast for the senses.
And then, about three songs in, the lights go down... great atmosphere...and suddenly here it is... a huge sound fills the air... the mantra OM begins to reverberate through the arena... [am I dreaming?] and it's the THE GAYATRI MANTRA in all it's glory... sounding exactly like our album...same drums, same keyboards... [different voice!]. She is using exactly the same harmonies, same arrangements, and it all sounded just soooo beautiful! Miten and I became very emotional, tears in our eyes, what a moment!
As the mantra progresses, Cher reappears on stage riding on the back of a huge theatrical elephant [really!!], dressed in an India-meets-Vegas costume The amazing dancers gyrate around the elephant with the grace and fluidity of Indian dance movements... 1001 Nights to the max... I wish you could've all been there to share that moment with us. It was unreal, bizzare, and yet... there it was... Miten and I were listening to the Gayatri Mantra being sung by Cher, to 10,000 people in a stadium in Cleveland... [the 'birthplace of rock' roll no less!]. Miracles do happen.
As the piece unfolded, you could feel it casting it's ancient spell throughout the arena. We drank fully of this moment, hardly comprehending what we were experiencing...
And then suddenly it's over, and we're back into a different movie, different song [I got you babe!!?], and back in the 'real' world.
[Next morning in the paper, the review of the show gave special mention to this section]
We were blissed out for the rest of the concert... lots of video snippets of her 35 years in the show business, movies, tv shows, and lots of great acrobatic dance sequences, on trapezes and rings suspended in the air. Cirque de Soleil style. She changed her costumes maybe 6 times during the show, and looked more beautiful each time. She's a great communicator... very natural and charming. It was easy to love her! Her smile and her humour opened our hearts.
After the show we were curious (to say the least) as to whether there would be an invitation for us to come backstage...but, ah... no message... ;-(( We had heard that she hadn't been seeing anyone after the shows so far... She knew that we were there that night, and I'm (almost) sure that she looked at us a few times during the concert with a smile (Miten saw it, too!)... so I must admit to being a little disappointed to not meet her. But...that soon lifted. It had been a beautiful night. A night to remember... And to tell you the truth, we both felt like our connection with Cher is far from over. I feel like it's just beginning. She has spent almost her whole life in show biz... and I felt by her embracing the Gayatri, she is opening herself to something much, much bigger. Whether she even knows it or not! She constantly namasted the audience... reaching out...
We left the arena 4 ft off the ground, toasted our evening with a glass of champagne back at the hotel, and went to bed. We were home! Which was the hotel just across the road....
With all my love to you,
" Premal and Miten have a simple and clear message: In love all suffering and fear vanishes. Within the rapture of their music we are able to fall into the depths of our own hearts where love abides eternally. They are equally humble and bold as love. In their presence we are reminded of our own capacity for humility and bold love... "
Sharon Gannon (co-founder of the legendary Jivamukti Yoga Center in New York City)
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