Irish singer and songwriter, Bob Geldof, will perform this week at the first Hay Festival in Kerala. One of Britain’s most prominent literary and cultural events, the Hay-on-Wye Festival in Wales attracts over one lakh people every year and is well-attended by authors, thinkers and performers from across the world.
The India chapter begins on November 12, with a three-day festival featuring over 50 authors from India and across the world. “It’s going to be a big picnic!” promises festival organiser, Peter Florence, who started the festival in 1988. “In Wales, The Hay is a twelve ring circus and celebrates local British writers alongside global colleagues. Though the festival in Kerala will be smaller, the spirit of enquiry, conversation and fun will be the same.”
Mani Shankar Aiyar, Rosie Boycott, Gillian Clarke, William Dalrymple, Tarun Tejpal, Shashi Tharoor, Amrita Tripathi, Pavan Varma, Jorge Volpi and Paul Zacharia are among those attending the literary festival in Kerala. The musical highlight features a performance by The Boomtown Rats frontman, Bob Geldof, who is also an author and political activist.
“Bob’s been part of Hay since 1989. He’s played at all our festivals and is possibly the greatest talker I’ve ever met,” says Florence. Geldolf, who along with U2’s Bono is best known for his anti-poverty efforts in Africa, was also the mastermind behind the super-charity concert, Live 8 in 2005. About his trip to India, the Irish rock star says, “I’m looking forward to some sunshine for sure.”
The musician, who will be touring in Norway soon after his India tour, will also visit Jaipur next week. Currently working on his solo album slated for release in January 2011 — How to compose popular songs that will sell — he says, “I’m looking out for interesting sites to shoot some music videos.”
Geldof is excited about performing in India and hopes to visit Mumbai after his album launch. “I would love to come back and play in Mumbai,” he says. “I played there in 1978 and it was probably the first rock’n’roll gig in the city. So it would be interesting to come back and see how things have changed there. I remember it was a small gathering I played to, but the Mumbai audience was fantastic back then,” says Geldolf, who also played the disturbed protagonist Pink in the 1982 Pink Floyd movie, The Wall.
Also reported at the Kerala Hay Festival are performances by local outfits such as the Malayali rockers Avial and folk rockers from Bengaluru, Swarathma. “We are still in talks with the festival organisers. But we would be delighted to play with Geldof. He’s a great musician whom we’ve all grown up listening to,” says guitarist, Rex Vijayan of Avial.