Saturday, February 23, 2008

The concert!!!

This post is a couple of weeks late, and I know I have incurred the wrath of many an ardent fan! My apologies, duly attributing the delay to the bane called work...I bet software professionals would empathize with me!
DAY 1 :

In every concert by Rahman Sir, the wise know when to reach the venue : the day before, when the rehearsals happen. And my enlightenment came in the form of a call from another ardent Rahmaniac, Manasa. This was at around 9.30 PM and I was still in office. The news was : Rehearsals are on at ymca! And anyone is allowed!

I bet the office cab driver would've been pretty annoyed at my constant pestering to drive faster, but then I was about to have one of the best Friday evenings of my life!! Never before did 20 mins seems like 20 hours!

Finally I reached the entrance of the ymca. And rushed inside... The ground where the concert took place was pretty far from the entrance. Almostt half a kilometer! But the distant thumping I heard seemed to grow nearer with every step..err leap I took. Was that Azeem O shaan I was hearing?? Hell yes! I had reached! And there was the stage! There were the musicians! There was the MAN!!! A.R.Rahman!!

They were all there! Hariji, Chitraji, Naresh, Chinmayi, Mohd.Aslam, Naveen on the flute! Manasa had come by now, and we went near the stage, seating ourselves in the second row! If only I had a pass for the show! Earlier, Raihana akka had told me she'd give me a pass if she got one. She was there too, singing for the chorus. I had contacted her earlier that day, and she had told me she didn't get any passes yet. So I forced myself to be contented watching the rehearsals.

Azeem-O-Shaan was followed by Thamizha thamizha, followed by a break for the artists. Now this was the best part. The artists had come off stage, but Rahman sir was on his keyboard, and were a couple of videshi percussionists. What started as some random chord punching by ARR ji on the keys, turned into a mini jazz performance with complex chords and time signatures. Sheer magic!!

Raihana akka came down stage and I said hi to her. Immediately she took out a pass and handed it over to me! I can't describe how happy I was in words! It was about 11.30 pm and Manasa had left by then. There was quite a crowd still, and the rehearsals resumed with Tere Bina. Rahman sir was having trouble with the pitch and from what I could hear, his throat was pretty sore from practice. I later came to know from my piano master who was the sequencer in the show, that they had been practicing since 3 pm that day!

I am spellbound by Neeti Mohan's singing! And she happens to be an amazing performer as well. Here was an extremely talented lady, dancing and singing Mayya Mayya with not the least deviance from pitch, almost exactly like the original! All we could do was watch and clap!!! Which we did more than willingly!

I met some of our fans from the yahoo groups, and they asked if I had a camera. A bike ride back home, a sleepy mom opening the door for me at 12.30 AM only to find out I was returning to the venue, and we now had a camera. And ofcourse Nazeef Bhai to help us meet the artists! He's one fan whom the artists come and meet after their shows :) I took up the job of photographer, and if it had been official, I would've been fired then and there, for I couldn't get the flash up and running! :(

The initial few pics we clicked with Chinmayi, Naresh et al, were kinda hazy, thanks to bright lights everywhere except the flash :( It was finally Sayonara who figured how to get it on (now don't puke at me for not knowing how to operate a Cybershot..its was just two days old, and the 5-6 fans with me, who were probably hundreds of days older than me couldn't figure out either :P )!

I'll have to cut back to the part before miss Sayonara made me wiser in life... the sad part of the day. The rehearsals were over and Rahman sir was gettnig down from the stage. We were eagerly waiting to get a snap with him. The camera was in my hand, and after a lot of convincing(the people who were with him), a visibly tired A.R.Rahman stood for a photo. If only the convoy with him hadn't been so impatient, and that jerk (dunno who, hence I take the liberty to call him one) hadn't pushed me, the pic would've come out well. Alas, the camera shook. But all people heard, was the click! And Rahman Sir was whisked away...to the disappointment of all the fans... much to the disappointment of Vijay Narain, who was just a mere spectator, watching, wishing the ones he photographed would return the favor...wishing the one he wanted to be photographed with, would wait just long enough for him to take a snap with...Now I'm getting too senti! Heck I already have more than 2 great photographs with ARR sir, but every time I egt an opportunity, it just doesn't matter! I consoled myself, saying next time I'll be up there on the stage, singing, instead of down here, watching...Wishful thinking?? Maybe... but what do I have to lose!!

And then we took more photographs, with Blaaze, Naveen et al. And I returned home and slept (yes the day ended rather abruptly :P )


Day 2: THE DAY OF THE CONCERT!!

-> Reached venue by 4.30 pm.
-> Met the fan group guys
-> Entered the ground by 5 pm and took first row seats
-> Were told to go out again, due to security issues :(
-> Entered ground again at 6.30 and took first row seats (ie behind some 40 rows of VIP chairs)
-> Concert by Guitar Prasanna, Keith Peters et all, and some random presentations by the event sponsors
->Show started by around 8!!

The first song was Jaage Hain, sung wonderfully by Chitra ji and Rahman sir. Now I choose to highlight only the best aspects of the show:

Naveen sir's flute: This complimented every song, including ones like Paathshala, and how! Beautiful!!

Hari ji: If the rather subdued Kaathal Rojave , without his staple sangathis was anything indication of what was to come, it couldn't be wronger. All the songs he performed were amazing! I am running out of adjectives (and this phrase is getting cliche :P)

Chitra Ji : What you hear on record, is what you get live! And more...

Rahman Sir's piano work: The acoustic part of the show, where Hariji sang Uyire with Chitra ji, who went on to sing Anjali, and then Chinmayi sang Sahana. Rahman ji on the piano was the best piano I've heard!!! The wonderful ebb and flow of notes, and that bass chord punch!!! omg!!

Neeti Mohan: Barso Re was almost 100% Shreya Ghoshal-ish, and Mayya Mayya was better than the previous night's rehearsal performance (maybe because she'd changed costumes :P)

Mohd. Aslam: Here's one singer whose voice instantly transports you back to yester years! His rendition of Jashn-e-Bahara was better than the original in my opinion.


And now coming to the flipside of the show:

The audience was not allowed to stand up and dance :(

Most of the songs were sequenced, due to which, there was a lack of synchronization between the signers and the track... Rahman sir himself missed a beat while singing Tere Bina and also forgot some lyrics..but Sir, you rock anyways!! :D Roobaroo was very very slow... some error with the track tempo apparently...There was no female chorus on stage, while the female chorus parts of Maduraikku Pogathedi(from the minus one track) was playing the the background. Apparently more than myself in the audience noticed...

A few singers went offkey, now and then. Chinmayi, who sang many a song, went off shruti in quite a few places. Also she missed the cue given by Rahman Sir for Sahana, and started off the song in a completely different Shruti. But then Rahman sir somehow managed to adjust and immediately switched scales!

The concert ended sooner than expected... We were anticipating a few songs which were done during rehearsals but not performed on the show including Ai Hairathe and Ellapugazhum.
Before we realized it, Vande Mataram had started and there were fireworks!


The show had ended. But more than the show, it was the experience that was absolutely fantastic! Eagerly awaiting the April Concert! (and a not-so-silent prayer to God that I sing in that show :D)