Under the sun

Monday, October 17, 2005

Andrum, Indrum, Endrum

Netru ille naalai ille
Yeppavum naan Raaja!

As quoted by SPB in the concert:
We recorded the song "Sundari kannaal oru sedhi" from Thalabadhi in Mumbai with R.D Burman's musicians. After performing the sections following the notes written by Raaja, the players put down their instruments and gave Raaja a standing ovation

Yesterday was no different, when this song was played. If there was any doubt as to which is THE REAL concert, it was put to rest yesterday.

[The snaps are here]

Reached the stadium around 5PM and since the first rows were reserved for celebrities, took the seats a few rows back. For 2,500 bucks, they could've left some more space between the rows of chairs. The stadium was almost full by 6 0 clock. They had two fairly big screens and a small one in the center on which Jaya TV's coverage was being projected.
The sets were done quite well but from where i was sitting, i couldn't see the tabla players.
The orchestral arrangement was elaborate and you could see everyone from the IR staple - Sundararajan, Purushothaman who was the conductor, Napoleon and others - it was clear that they were striving for Studio-level quality in the music. Listen to any song of His and you will know what it takes to reproduce the arrangement, timing and sound in a live concert. I was particularly looking forward to two elements in the arrangement. The violin-cello piece and the bass guitar, which are trademark Raaja domain stuff. Later, i would find to my disappointment that the sound systems and sound engineers in our concerts leave a lot to be desired. Like any other concert, it started late, with a movie-like "title", with recorded music, titles on the screens crediting all the singers, musicians and the people behind the scenes and on stage, there were a group of kids dancing. Ilaiyaraaja emerged amidst thunderous applause and fireworks, flanked by two kids on either side.
First stop was "Janani Janani", with Yuvan and Karthik Raja joining IR. IRs voice was shaky to begin with but after the initial few lines, he was at his soulful best. Many people think IR shouldn't sing at all and that he doesn't have a good voice. I completely disagree and maintain that when you listen to Raaja singing a particular song, you feel his soul in it.

The orchestration was for the most part mind-blowing. As far as possible, they stuck to the original songs, note for note. Watching the violin and cello players and IR/Puru condutcting them was awesome. IR made a special request to the audience to listen carefully for nuances (especially in the strings sections) which we might have missed while listening to the original versions. In fact, this concert was more for the connoiseur and for the one with a deep love for music than for the chair-crashing "have-a-blast"er. We would have all heard that IR is very strict when it comes to recordings, that he is a perfectionist, and the singers are either afraid or is in awe of the man while singing. Yesterday, you could see it for yourself. Often, it was like watching him (and the singers and orchestra) at work in the studio. Which other MD would stop the orchestra IN A CONCERT and tell them to start all over again because he felt they weren't getting their C-sharp right, in the middle of the absolutely brilliant string-section opening in the song "Sendhura poove " (16 Vayadhinile). He would do that a couple of times more in the songs to come. Some people may term it otherwise but for me, that was an experience.
Parthiban and Mahathi were the MCs and they did not disappoint. The crowd went into raptures when IR launched into his aalaap in "Naan Thedum sevvanthi poo idhu". The crowd demanded and got an encore for this, in which IR improvised with his own lyrics because the female singer for that song Manjari had gone backstage not knowing about the "once more"!
"Sundari kannaal oru sedhi" reached orgasmic heights in its orchestration and majesty and unfortunately, there was no encore for this. As it started getting late, some people left before the concert was over. They missed out some really good stuff happening in the last leg of the concert. Sivamani was getting into form and Chitra was GOD-level in "Ninnukkori varnam".
Accepting the incessant pleas of a section of the crowd, IR sang the "Masatra Sodhi" piece from "Polla Vinayen" in thiruvasagam. Mind you, there was no orchestral backing - just his voice and a lone percussion. The impact was the same!
As expected, 3-in-1 was played [a composition with only 3 swaras "sa","ri" and "ga"]. IR added more sophistication this time compared to the Italian concert version. Shreya and the chorus were amazing in their exchanges. Raaja means harmony, raaja means counterpoint, raaja means melody.
Mood Kaapi preceded 3-in-1 and this too was rendered slightly different from the Italian concert version. By the way, IR rates "Olangal" [Malayalam] as Balu Mahendra's best film.
The grande finale was "Veettukku veettukku" from Kihakku Vaasal, which was Raaja's take on Mozart's Symphony #25. All the singers were on stage for this when Sivamani took over and went beserk. I had been clapping and whistling right through the show but Sivamani's performance injected a fresh dose of whistling energy. Thus ended the musical Sunday night. And already i was feeling bad that the night was over, reconciling reluctantly to the fact that life and all its banalities would go on. Outside the stage, just when i was about to "shoot" Sivamani for my first close-up shot for the day in my friend's modest 2.0 megapixel Nikkon, the batteries died!

Needless to say, it was a great musical evening. It would have been greater, had the sound quality been better. To be precise, Sivamani and the violinists could hardly be heard many times during the concert and IR had to constantly signal to the people concerned to increase the volume for the violinists.
I was disappointed with the set list for the evening. IR is great because of his coverage of the entire spectrum in film (and non-film) music. Sadly, IMO, the concert did not cover the whole wide spectrum. "Enna Solli", "Khajuraho", for example had no place in this concert.
Why were the following not played?
"Ilaiya Nila"
"Ilamai Idho idho"
Mike Mohan 's golden hits...
(to name a very few)

All in all, cribs apart, this was a never-forget-night. People who were not lucky enough to be there for the show can wash their sins by watching the program on Jaya TV, whenever it is.
Ilaiyaraaja, naan un isaikku adimai!

UPDATE: Shreya Ghoshal was in stunning form on Sunday night. She was unbelievable when she sang "Kaatril endhan geetham" and she mispronounced "Theduthey" as "ThOduthey" and when IR later corrected her in the middle of the song, there was a rousing response from the crowd. And how could i forget to mention "Pothi vecha malliga mottu" [vintage SPB], "Padariyen" and "Mari mari" [Gaana kuyil Chitra] and the masterpiece "Thendral vandhu theendum podhu" - Avatharam, where Ilaiyaraaja was absolutely enjoying himself and lots more....


  • That's one concert I would've loved to attend. Hope he is inspired enough to do this overseas too.
    Looks like you had fun, and nice photos.

    What about the whole 'Paramakudikarare' incident with Kamal? Did Kamal actually sing after that? And what's that about him doing an impromptu remix with Yuvan on stage?

    By Anonymous Manoj, at Mon Oct 17, 09:02:00 PM  

  • Never mind the Paramakudi story. I just read your other post. :)

    By Anonymous Manoj, at Mon Oct 17, 09:07:00 PM  

  • *Jealous sigh*

    By Anonymous Karthik, at Mon Oct 17, 09:08:00 PM  

  • Manoj,
    That "paramakudi" thing was a good pun by Raaja. There was this remix of "Chinna Kannan Azhaikkiraan" which was supposed to be sung by Karthik. IR called Yuvan on stage and gave him the mike. Karthik hardly had a chance to sing :-)
    I might've missed to mention about quite a few things like this but then it was a LONG night....

    By Blogger Bala (Karthik), at Mon Oct 17, 09:18:00 PM  

  • karthik,
    well, you can catch the concert on Jaya TV later.....

    By Blogger Bala (Karthik), at Mon Oct 17, 09:19:00 PM  

  • i think i am going to cry...

    By Anonymous thops, at Mon Oct 17, 09:37:00 PM  

  • Wow Karthik, thats brilliant.No need to crib.

    Playing His songs is most difficult. And professionals they are, they have intensely gone through time tested periods by working with other musicians. So getting back to His 80s perfections.

    But sweet thing is about the 3 notes song. WOW WOW WOW.

    You must have noticed, while everyone would have taken liberty to perform in their own style in other concerts, they totally complied with the Maestro.

    Have you seen Hariharan, Shreya, Karthik, Madhubalakrishnan, Sadhna, and Sivamani. They were totally grippped by the respect they have for this Siharam.

    And it was only mind-blowing to see Sundari kannal and Thendral Vandhu (Avathaaram) been played.


    By Blogger xperienceblog, at Tue Oct 18, 08:53:00 AM  

  • Good post AA.Thanks for the photo's&the two posts esp Andavaaaaaaaaaaa.

    just waiting for the prog to be telecasted on Jaya TV

    By Anonymous Cinefan, at Tue Oct 18, 12:17:00 PM  

  • ive linked ur post in my blog

    By Blogger ada-paavi!!!!, at Tue Oct 18, 01:48:00 PM  

  • alwarpet andava(karthik)

    great review..

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Oct 18, 03:08:00 PM  

  • thops,
    Adhu aananda kanneera mattum thaan irukkanum :)

    Bass Vicky,
    "Playing His songs is most difficult"
    As a musician yourself, you would know for sure...

    I'm waiting for the telecast myself

    vatsan and anon,
    Nandri hai......

    By Blogger Bala (Karthik), at Tue Oct 18, 05:13:00 PM  

  • And Bass Vicky,
    "And it was only mind-blowing to see Sundari kannal and Thendral Vandhu (Avathaaram) been played"
    It was 'Thendral vandhu' which jolted me and brought me back to Ilaiyaraaja after a brief period when i was an ARR fan.....

    By Blogger Bala (Karthik), at Tue Oct 18, 05:15:00 PM  

  • Great review... Yeah, Thendral vandhu was a brilliant number after He was almost written off by film critics... and WHAT A comeback it was!!! andha paata live orchestra-la kekka punyam panni irukkanum... and damn i missed it:(

    By Blogger Nithya Swaminathan, at Tue Oct 18, 07:09:00 PM  

  • nithya,
    "and damn i missed it:("
    Been looking for the review in ur blog for the past 2 days and was wondering why there wasn't one...
    anyway, don't miss the telecast on Jaya TV...

    By Blogger Bala (Karthik), at Tue Oct 18, 07:16:00 PM  

  • nice post...couldnt attend the show due to exams and felt very bad abt it...
    will catch it on TV for sure...

    By Blogger Aakarsh, at Wed Oct 19, 12:28:00 AM  

  • Oh shit i'm in the U.S . .i ssoooo wish i was in India. .

    By Blogger Shan, at Wed Oct 19, 06:26:00 AM  

  • Karhik - Have you noticed one thing in his orchestra???

    He used 4 keyboards. That too Korg and Yamaha stuff, a Roland SPD - 20 Pads, a Roland(?) rhythm sequencer. No matter whatever technology he uses, his Music always sounds only Music and no technology.

    By the way, Thenral Vanthu Theendum is one song which very very difficult to play unless one has a strong Rhythm sense (invl. Syncopation) and difficult to sing under this complex rhythm patern (Man - IR is genius in singing too)


    By Blogger xperienceblog, at Sat Oct 22, 12:15:00 PM  

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