Monday, May 4, 2009

May 3rd: Corporation Stadium, Kozhikkode

Benny Dayal,Breathe, Shankar Mahadevan, A.R Rahman + Hariharan + Chitra + Benny again + Javed Ali + Blaze + Many More, 4 concerts in a matter of 5 weeks, each one raising the benchmark of expectations for the next, all of them breathtaking, I just can't imagine a better climax to my life at NIT Calicut.

The first three were part of Ragam'09 towards the end of March where Shankar ruled the roost with his exhilarating performance from start to finish. There was not even one moment of slackness, not even one moment of weariness, an aggressive, fast and breathtaking show for two hours. Benny flagged off Ragam on Day one, a performance great for Day One, but nowhere as close to Shankar's on Day Two, but well, still worth it. While it was Shankar that set the tone of Ragam'09, Breathe didn't disappoint on Day Three and from there I moved on with a feeling that there was nothing else left to see. Oh boy, was I wrong!!!

Then came May the 3rd - A.R Rahman flagging off his Jai Ho World Tour from Kozhikkode. At first I was excited about it, but then came our end semester exam timetable with a packed first week of May. Till a week before the show I had almost decided to skip it; in hindsight, am I glad I didn't. If I had missed the show just because of exams, then May 4th would have been the longest and saddest day of my life. It was not a performance that blew me off my feet as was Shankar Mahadevan's, it was not a show that was packed with punch, but it was one that was more surreal and refined, one not meant just for the adrenaline heavy college crowd.

The concert was a perfect mix of soothing and exhilirating music, so well blended that you wouldn't know that three hours had passed and you wouldn't mind sitting there for another three listening to more Rahman magic. None of us were tired while leaving well actually none of us wanted to leave. The music was so soul stirring that rather than just blowing you off your feet, your mind is given wings to hover around near the stage and with each passing rendition giving them more and more aerodynamic lift to take you higher and higher. Personally, my best moment was one and a half hours into the show when Rahman and then Javed Ali gave back to back renditions of "Khwaja Mere Khwaja" and "MAula Maula" after which for some reason I felt lighter as though all pressures of the world were just lifted off me.

But it was not always like that. The start was pretty ordinary, with the sound systems making shrill music of its own in between and thus though A.R Rahman started off with "O Saya" something was missing in the feel. The same was true of the 2nd and 3rd songs, "Padakali" from Yodha and "Tu Muskura" from Yuvraaj, but then either the sound engineer managed to magically disguise the faults in the sound system or Hariharan was, in the 4th song, simply awesome enough to disguise the speakers' feeble attempts to outsmart the masters in their own game. After Hariharan's bilingual rendition of "Kadhal Rojave", in feel and sheer magic of the moment the intensity was always on the rise.

The first half ended with "Maula Maula" and then after a 15 minute break for the organisers to indulge in self congratulations on stage, the show was back on, but this time with nostalgia flowing in through his timeless hits of "Mustafa Mustafa" and more in ever increasing intensity upto the very end.

Add to that performances by Chitra capped by her rendition of "Jiya Jale" coupled with a well synchronised fire display in the foreground, Blaze's rap, the predictable ending with "Jai Ho" + "Vande Mataram" amidst fireworks, and yes, the awesome stage setting with doubly brilliant lighting and superbly synchronised graphics display on the on-stage screen, yes, if I had missed this show the regret would have stayed on the back of my mind forever.