Sunday, June 10, 2007

A. R. Rahman in Chicago

Despite dodgy acoustics at the spanking new Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, I thoroughly enjoyed A. R. Rahman's show last night.

(Thanks Kalyan for the tickets and getting all of us together) Some notes.


  • Early on two slouching guys ahead of me in line for the bathroom noted the samosas being offered at the concession stand. They then proceeded to analyze passing women's breasts using samosas as an analogy. The person behind me meanwhile had snuck up so close his tummy was rubbing against the small of my back. Hmm, I thought R. Kelly was the creepiest guy in Chicago. I was wrong.


  • Rahman starts the show in his muddled voice which barely carries over the thundering sound. Much applause.


  • Sukhwinder Singh shows up and infuses much life into the proceedings. Yes, his voice is powered by nuclear fusion. The Narmada Project people harnessed the wrong resource.


  • Madhushree sings "Kahi Shahad Kahi Neem" with high doses of energy and style. Chitra sings something in Tamil to much applause. Hariharan and Sadhana Sargam both do the first of several excellent short sets.


  • "Chhaiya Chhaiya" plays. Rabid dancing ensues in the galleys. I note that access to the concession stand could have been choked by this if all the guys had landed dates.


  • A song from the upcoming Shivaji splits the air. Parents coddle their terrified children.


  • Sivamani does an energetic drum solo touching on some Indian genres. Several of the older members of the audience escape to get some snacks.


  • Rahman plays the Continuum which he says does away with his frustrated attempts at coaxing carnatic music out of a piano. Much pride ensues at the Illinois invention.


  • A singer I couldn't identify performs "Maiya Maiya" with several dancers getting under her ample red dress (don't ask!). She pouts, itraos and generally makes the original Mallika Sherawat item look like a Mary Poppins song.


  • A all-girl ensemble from Miami University, Ohio who has been learning Rahman's music for seven years takes the stage and chatters out a song. The girls look lovely but the audience appears dazed. It took seven years to learn this?


  • Sukhwinder finishes his last set with "Thaiya Thaiya". He can still take on that booming sound system and kick its ass. Awe is inspired.


  • Rahman ends with "Vande Matram" which pleases the wife. Much fun was had by all.

6 comments:

Mind Rush said...

My minor peeve with Rahman is that he wears his "young genius" mantle with great self-consciousness. And yes, his version of "Vande Mataram" was one one of his more memorable compositions.

Kalyan said...

Rahman is gifted musician..I like the one he played some new instrument continuum which he played karnatic which was superb. We don't know some of the singers in this concert probably We missed the introduction part of his troupe..they did sometime in the middle of the show I guess..overall it was a great experience as this was my first time to go to any big 9000+ desi crowd concert

Aspi said...

Good point about that "laser show" on your blog, Kalyan. Quite a few people expected more I thought.

nmlhats said...

I saw the show in Dallas and had a similar experience to yours, mostly being wowed by Sukhwinder, not so much by some Sivaji stuff, and generally having a fantsatic night out with friends. It was my third time to see a Rahman show--the Unity of Light tour a few years ago, also in Dallas, and then the Hollywood Bowl show last summer. I think this 2007 show was my favorite, but the atmosphere at the Hollywood Bowl was really festive and half the audience were not South Asian. They all seemed to dig it! (I guess L.A. is a little more cosmopolitan than Dallas.)

Aspi said...

nmlhats, now that you bring it up: very few in the Chicago show were not South Asian. And Rahman started with a comment to the effect that not enough people had showed up the last time he was in Chicago.

But it was all good in the end.

shreya said...

singer singing maiya maiya is mauli dave! I dont knw why she sings id rehman's concert as she definitely doesnt deserve it!