It was my first A R Rahman concert, except for the Classic Incantations performed by the Germany based Babelsberg orchestra in January 2012. As the organizers intended to accommodate more people (and mint more money), which in turn resulted in shifting the venue from Nehru Indoor Stadium to YMCA Grounds, I could get tickets for the show. That's enough for the intro.
The Concert - December 29, 2012 - YMCA Grounds, Nandanam, Chennai
The weather forecast for the day was, in single word, “Thunderstorms”. The show started at around 1915 hours. The skies were opening up intermittently. It rained heavily for a short period of time. But most of the time, Puyal (storm) just allowed the Isai Puyal (Musical Storm) to take over, because the latter was in top form.
The show started with “Udal Mannukku Uyir Thamizhukku” by KM choir and accompanying harmony. The orchestra was perfect. A dance performance with good formations accompanied the track and helped set the “100% Tamil” theme for the concert.
The man himself took the microphone for the next track with “Unthan Desathin Kural”. The orchestration was similar to what he did in MTV Unplugged with able support from KM Choir. The lethargic audience, who were waiting for long, woke up, stood up and then finally were on the chairs till the end of the track.
“Elay Keechan” was magnificent. The orchestration, the performance showing the fishermen rowing their boats, everything was just superb. People were not getting down from the chairs. ARR was top notch.
Then ARR introduced 7 guest percussionists, all female, from the west (guess from US). The only names I could gather were Katie, Kelly and Megan (not sure of these too). They performed with their drums, which was like a Safri Duo performance. After that, ARR asked them whether they learnt Kuthupattu and one of them played the same. A small round of applause. Nothing special about the part.
The next was a medley, with Hariharan and Mano doing the honours. Hariharan started with “Arima Arima” and within a minute the orchestra moved to “Veerapandi Kottayile”, performed by Mano. “Anbe Kollathe” followed and then moved on to the rural Tamil folk, “Manuthu Manthayile”, post which “Kuchi Kuchi Rakkama”, “Thillana Thillana”, “Kannai Katti Kolladhe”, “Padayappa” and “Vaaji Vaaji” was performed. The finale was “Ballelakka”, for which ARR joined the duo.
Mano was back for “Puthiya Manidha”. I’m not sure who sang Khadija’s lines (Jaya TV contest’s winner?). Although the orchestra was good, I felt Mano couldn’t replace SPB. There were a few flaws too.
K S Chitra was on stage and started the humming for “Kaadhal Rojaave”. Hariharan did a good job, but again I missed SPB. He sang a few lines in Hindi, the only instance in the whole concert and in between he forgot a bit of the lyrics too.
It was time for the young and famous; an extended medley starting with Benny Dayal with ARR for “Omana Penne”, but a surprise followed with orchestra changing gears. Karthik stormed in with “Girlfriend” and the crowd was on the chairs again. It was high octane stuff and the energy levels were at the peak. Karthik and Chinmayi were on for “Aathankara Marame”. A classic from yester years, played out and performed brilliantly, but Mano and Sujatha couldn’t be matched. Neeti Mohan was on stage, for the first among the many she performed in the concert, with “Akkadanu Naanga”. The attitude was there, but the diction had some issues. Yet, she tried hard and the result was good. Karthik and Chinmayi were back for “July Maadham Vanthaal” and once again I missed SPB. But, Karthik was good. Chinmayi also managed well. It was again time some adrenaline rush; Karthik was back with “Endredrum Punnagai” and then moved on to “Kannum Kannum”. Benny and Naresh Iyer accompanied. The result was pure magic. The crowd was again standing on chairs.
ARR was back for that evergreen first night track. “Humma Humma” rocked big time. Everything was perfect for the track.
Sanjeev Thomas gave the perfect rock feel intro for that masterpiece song on friendship. Crowd, standing on the chairs, swayed to “Mustafa Mustafa”, which sounded ageless in ARR's voice.
Chitra was back for “Nenjinile”. The harmony lead by KM choir was superb with the Malayalam lyrics.
It was time for some soft tracks. Hariharan started with “Nilaa Kaigirathu”, followed by Chitra’s high quality vocals for “Uyire” and then both finished with bits of “Pudhu Vellai Mazhai”.
The “Changing Seasons” video was played next. Still don’t understand why “Naan Varuvene” track was excluded from the CDs when it was released. ARR's voice sounded heavenly.
“Thee Thee” followed in Neeti Mohan’s voice. But, Ranjit Barot rocked the track with his energetic vocals accompanying the percussion.
It was the time for Harpejji. ARR played the same and was in good humour. Chitra was on vocals. Naveen Kumar and Ranjit Barot accompanied with flute and percussion. Chitra showed her prowess in classical music, starting with “Kannaamochi”. She moved on to “Anbe Sugama” and completed it with an excellent rendition of “Enge Yenadhu Kavithai”.
It was the time for the new generation. Shaktisree sang “Nenjukkulle”. There were flaws at some instances, where she was out of shruthi, but it’s her first experience performing live with ARR. Guess experience will get her better. But, the voice was magical as in the original recorded track and ARR’s humming was lovely.
“Infinite Love” video, with only the track portion, was played. The audio sounded great. Audience watched in silence as I guess it’s just a week old.
It was time for Sid Sriram with “Adiye”. The way he conveys the emotion in the track with just his voice is truly amazing for a young singer. I felt he could just stick to the flow in the original track as he strained a bit. Experiences will make him better.
Neeti Mohan was back with “Hello Mr Ethirkatchi”. I felt her Tamil improved here and overall it sounded really good. Her performance was getting better.
“Moongil Thottam” was brilliant with Abhay Jodhpurkar and Harini at the vocals. There were some minor flaws in his singing, but what a voice! Harini’s experience showed and was just flawless.
Next track intro’d with “Boom Boom Robo Da”, but swiftly changed to “Irumbile Oru Idhayam”. ARR looked smart. But the show-stopper was Neeti Mohan. Guess she got some tips from her sister Shakti Mohan too. The way she sang was superb and the way she moved was almost like what Aishwarya Rai did in movie.
The next was “Urvasi Urvasi”, where ARR proved he’s still young at heart. Benny and Naresh accompanied. ARR even pointed to Benny’s head where the song refers to head and Tirupati. The crowd was back on the chairs.
Aaryan Dinesh was stunning with “Magudi Magudi”. Chinmayi accompanied well. But the Lankan was unstoppable. He was just amazing.
“Jai Ho” in Tamil followed. The crowd sang it along with ARR and his sisters. The vocals by Raihana and Ishrat was good.
“Thaai Manne Vanakkam” was the befitting end to the show. There’s no chance that this track would go wrong in any aspect in any concert.
The musicians were all good and almost perfect. My throat still aches and was completely dehydrated, but the energy levels were so high. And I have no complaints.
The Song List - Movie
- Udal Mannukku - Iruvar
- Unthan Desathin – Desam (dubbed from Swades)
- Elay Keechan - Kadal
- Guest Drummers
- Arima Arima - Enthiran
- Veerapandi Kottayile – Thiruda Thiruda
- Anbe Kollathe - Jeans
- Manuthu Manthayile - Kizhakku Cheemayile
- Kuchi Kuchi Rakkama - Bombay
- Thillana Thillana - Muthu
- Kannai Katti Kolladhe - Iruvar
- Padayappa - Padayappa
- Vaaji Vaaji – Shivaji
- Balleilakka - Shivaji
- Omana Penne – Vinnaithandi Varuvaaya
- Girlfriend – Boys
- Aathankara Marame - Kizhakku Cheemayile
- Akkadaanu Nanga - Indian
- July Maadham – Puthiya Mugham
- Endredrum Punnagai - Alaipayuthey
- Kannum Kannum – Thiruda Thiruda
- Nilaa Kaigirathu - Indira
- Uyire - Bombay
- Pudhu vellai - Roja
- Kannaamoochi – Kandukondein Kandukondein
- Anbe Sugama – Paarthaale Paravasham
- Enge Enathu Kavithai - Kandukondein Kandukondein
Since the updates were only on Facebook and it was informed that the entrance would open at 1400 hours, my wife and I reached the venue at quarter past two. We didn’t have lunch and were in for a shock. At the entrance where we initially waited till almost 3 pm, the security guys informed that Rs.500-Rs.5000 would let in through the same gate. Then we had to run when it was informed that it was for Rs. 5000 and above. We ran from gate to gate twice, thrice, over a well, through the muddy terrain and finally entered the venue through the Rs. 500 gate and had to move to Rs. 1000 chairs. We got the seat at around 4 pm. Then we moved forward again as we were initially seated at Rs. 500 seats. Only very few food counters were present. Our lunch/snacks was “unniyappams”. Water bottles were being charged by some guys for Rs. 100 during the concert. The toilets arrangement was good. The inclination of the seats also offered nothing much as we saw even Rs. 5000 guys standing on their chairs. Hope they took some insurance policy for the chairs as the damaged ones would be countless. While we were getting down, the platforms cracked and crowd panicked and although it was safe when we got down, I'm not sure whether the quality was properly ensured or not.
I guess the confusion was because different parts were handled by different event partners as usual, but the co-ordination was poor. Still I believe the police/security did a god job.
The audio system lived up to my expectations. The experience was amazing for all the songs. The video screens were good, although had temporary problems in between. The stage looked great although we couldn’t get a direct look so easily. The lighting was too good. The background screen was nice. Overall, Rapport Global Events are doing a good job making ARR concert an altogether different experience. The ads for serials in Jaya TV were irritating. The costumes were stylish. ARR looked dapper in almost all the stuff he wore. All the singers looked smart.
A few words on ARR
ARR is a world class musician and a top notch entertainer. He can easily remain at just that. But he goes beyond, and his messages at times offer a sneak peek into the man behind it all. He’s a thinker and a good human being. He expressed grief at the bad news of the morning, he is a person rooted well to his home turf speaking in Tamil often during the concert, the way he kept everything simple with slight bit of humour, the way he shows respect and love to the singers, musicians, organisers etc. are some things that are worth emulating. It’s a simple message that if you are in any environment, you make the first step to make it better. That’s the way I see it.
As the title for this post says, this is enough for me. Thank You A R Rahman for a great concert experience.
As the title for this post says, this is enough for me. Thank You A R Rahman for a great concert experience.