PORLWI by nature

For the 3rd year, Mauritians and visitors to the island were invited to come to the capital, Port Louis, for a festival emphasising urban regeneration and cultural reconnection.

Wooden pallets were used to make a stage and seats for a giant screen in the harbour. Even some of the lampposts were clad in wood!

As the sun started to set and dusk approached,  a live draw for the Lotto was enthusiastically being performed on another stage.

Porlwi by Nature took place in and around some of the historic streets and buildings of Port Louis. It was an opportunity to to explore how to bring nature into the daily life of Mauritius.

There were three distinct areas to visit joined by streets pedestrianised just for the festival.

Street Art, Street Light, Street Music, Street Performances and of course Street Food were on display for all to enjoy, see and connect to in the unique style of Mauritius.

An excellent example of Wall Art, even the staircase was completely painted.

Japanese music being played at the entrance to the Granary but no sushi for sale.

Now a chance to reconnect with nature within the cool, stone walls of the Granary on a hot, humid December evening.

Who could resist a walk amongst  tropical plants swaying from the warehouse ceiling, bathed in green light?

There were varied exhibits from sculpture, to paintings and illustrations, some of them horticulturally displayed also this figure should have had green fingers.

One of the art exhibits on display, slides lit from behind looking similar to golden brown sugar crystals.

A wedding dress suspended from the ceiling, bathed in spotlights and confetti.

You can store plants and display them in many ways indoors but you always need a watering can nearby!

Walking over to the superb Aapravisi Ghat museum (a blog on this is coming soon) in the Dock and the surrounding buildings, there were more exhibits.

A film was projected on to this building. You just had to stop and look at the moving images and how it completely changed the shape and style of the building. Two separate displays are just visible through the two rectangular openings.

Looking through the window on the left of the previous building, this display showed images of flowers that bloomed whilst changing colour and shape. Technically difficult to photograph!

And through the window on the right, a technicolour collage of images of Mauritius.

Another building had displays about sealife. This was all about humpback whales and explained why they jump out of the water.

Inside one of the large warehouse buildings in the dock. This projection of a light show filmed amongst trees gave an interesting back drop for visitors to mingle with.

Green was a ‘natural’ choice to highlight some of the new buildings.

Surely this old bank building should be lit in black and red? Who has heard of going into the white? (Maybe a billiard player?)

A chance to reflect on the usual view of the port and Caudan Waterfront. Even a cruise liner had moved forward for a better look at the city.

The passengers would have seen the Waterfront and palm trees colourfully lit in front of Place d’Armes.

At Caudan, this dancer in striped trousers with a Zebra head on was entertaining the crowd as they crossed by. Why a zebra head? Because it was a crossing point.

Porlwi by Nature, at night, showed some of the old and new buildings as well as the streets bathed in light with many interesting displays and performances. It certainly gave visitors a chance to think about the history of the city, its culture and, perhaps, the future.

Hans Nayna Time Flies and it does!

 

Eighteen months ago I was recommended to go and see Hans and his band in concert. Its a mixture of blues, soul and bit of rock and refreshingly memorable. I have been to a few of his concerts since then and have really enjoyed his music whilst sharing it with others.

I regularly play the first album, ‘Music For The Soul’;  it’s warm, soulful and has a real feel-good factor. It is music from Mauritius but it is not Mauritian music, it is music created and played by super talented musicians.

The concert was easy to get to at l’Espace Culturel Malcom de Chazal, a new venue in Moka with a large and free car park (almost unheard of in Europe). Copies of the new CD, recorded and mixed on the island by Richard Hein, were on sale outside.

This was Hans on ‘top’ form with his seven piece band excellently supporting him and they looked like they were having real fun playing their new music to the audience. The music is not too different from the first album just a bit tighter and maybe highlighting his fabulous voice.

Time Flies, the signature track and first on the album, starts in reflective mood on the past, gentle piano and mournful strings gradually building pace and becoming more upbeat as the lyrics are repeated and the drums and pace lift the song into an easily repeated chorus which the audience soon joined in with.

Masquerade is all about being yourself, no faking, who you want to be and goes from deeply thoughtful to an uplifting song which has you dancing away and to uncontrollably sing the African style chant along with. “..it’s a show”, he sang. No, it’s a concert!! A great song to wake up to with sleepy eyes.

He has given us Music for the Soul and now a Lullaby for Saul. Hans became a father earlier in the year and life has changed for ever for him based on the lyrics of this song as Mummy and Daddy are now stealing the moon and the clouds for their baby. What good parent would not?

Water was my favourite on the night. An un-keep-still-able song paying homage to a brown eyed woman with a blue dress, red lips dancing away, with soul catching moves. A fabulously tight song, great bass, wind and drums, which had everyone in the room smiling and lifted. This one did not slip through my hands.

I had heard one song before, Plastic World, as this was on his last tour, and the lyrics probably explained why the CD was packaged in an innovative cardboard folder that presented the disc to you on opening.

The lyrics of his songs always come across as very meaningful and serious, telling a story amongst best friends or lovers.

A surprise was in store with an interruption from Myckee, a popular local rap artist. Hans was enraptured performing  with him on ‘What we need’, well what Myckee needs is spelling lessons perhaps?

Oh No! The concert is over! That went quickly. Time flies. Time to go home. Wait, they are back on stage.

All the songs were in English except for ‘Mo Lam’ from the first album, which was a very, very popular encore.

It was terrific. Hans gave it everything as usual, his voice is special and he belts out the lyrics at times holding nothing back.

Thanks to Hans, his band and all the support team who put on a truly memorable concert.  Let’s hope time flies before the next album.

Music for the soul with Hans Nayna

Hans Nayna is a talented local musician from Mahebourg, 27 years old, who is on tour promoting his first album, a crowd funded CD recorded in Mauritius. Last night, he and his excellent eight-piece band, thoroughly entertained an exhuberant crowd of around 300 at the Institute Francais in Rose Hill.

Institute Francais
Not many concert halls are built around a tree

The local press is a good source of what is happening and I jumped at the chance to go. This was my first visit to this venue, I was there on time, surprised to find yet another free car park in Mauritius! I paid 300 rupees (£6) for a ticket and joined a very relaxed crowd at the bar; speedy service with a smile too! Excellent. I was asked if I had practised my “La … la-la laa’s”. What?

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It started at 8pm … Mauritian time!

With the minimum of fuss, Hans and his band almost apologetically crept around the black curtain to great applause and started their show.

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Hans has a strong singing voice with soul, blues and bags of emotion. He has been compared with Paulo Nutini, a bit of jazz, soul and blues. Let’s see, or rather, hear.

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Talented, unpretentious and likeable

He had been a finalist on RunStar, a version of The Voice, on nearby French island, La Reunion. It must be nerve wracking to perform your own words and music, have your first CD on sale, be up there on stage in front of your family, friends, loyal supporters and others who had heard about you. He went through all the tracks and a few others, the performance growing in confidence as he and the band felt the audience participation, appreciation and pleasure.

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Emanuelle’s violin led many of the songs

There was a lovely rich sound from the brass section especially on “Le King” and “Welcome to Paradise”; Fabien Thomas on trumpet and Bryan Armoogam on trombone. Emmanuelle Ghem was elegance personified with her violin, delicate left hand fingers getting just the right vibrato; Josian Long was, of course, as cool as a Mauritian cucumber on the bass as tradition dictates.

Jann Payet played electric piano and keyboards with sensitivity and distinction especially at the start of “Music for the Soul”, a song which builds slowly The backing vocals supplied with gusto, especially on “Liv” by Christabelle André and Anne-Sophie Paul (her name would be so confusing if it was Sophie-Anne Paul).

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I thought Hans was similar to George Ezra just with a voice not so low, especially on “Liv” and “Music for the Soul”. “Pieces of the World” reminded me a bit of George Benson in the early days. “Welcome to Paradise” had lots of audience participation with more La La’s than in the Teletubbies! (I am la la-la la-ing now as I am writing this). “With You”; impossible to not tap your feet and dance to that one.

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He had to sell all his footwear to pay for the CD

Christophe Bertin showed a great range on the drums through the concert especially in “Feelings”,  (no, not that one!) and “Music for the Soul” .

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Maybe all Mauritian drum kits are fitted with flower holders

At the end, a spontaneous standing ovation was humbly taken and “Mo lam”,  a haunting violin rising above the chorus,  was the standout choice for the popular encore.

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I think it was Hans’ Mum who came on stage to give flowers to him and the ladies

Thank you to Lauryn who told me he was a pretty cool guy and introduced me to his music. She was right; Hans and his band were terrific. The lyrics were sensitive, soulful and uplifting.  The music sort of blues, jazz and a bit of rock, it was just great!

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I left the concert with a big smile on my face,  my soul warmed by the music and looking forward to playing the CD in the car on the way home.

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“La la-la la, La la-la la”.

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Hans Nayna – super connected with a happy audience

Now, here is a real treat for you….

The whole concert is on:

“Gimme love”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ijBlbHX3p0A

“Music for the soul”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5mmy9zBvmo&list=PLEpthTfasd_sHTBucKVLFCMCnwa2F8Lm8