LA – Hollywood Bowl
30 years and counting but one man continues to create magical music , inspire us and will never forget his matter of fact line at the Oscars – “All my life , had the choice of love and hate , I chose love and am here”
As soon as the news broke on twitter early in the year confirming the North American tour , started checking arrahman website regularly to look for tickets , took a while for the tickets to become actually available and soon group of 8 of us in Sunny San Diego booked the tickets and started looking forward to the concert. It was the first ARR concert for 3 of them and they were really thrilled and looking forward to it. The D-day soon arrived and all us drove up to LA in the afternoon giving us ample time to make sure to account for the dreaded LA traffic , reached the Hollywood bowl an hour before the start time and we were all set. A quick note regarding the Hollywood Bowl , it’s a huge amphitheater with a capacity of over 15000 folks and was also named as one among the top 10 live music venues in USA. As soon as you walk into the arena , it gives you goosebumps looking at how far spread out the folks are and still every one gets a good view of the stage. Settled down in our seats by around 6:45 pm as the crowd was starting to fill in.
What followed after was just pure bliss of Enna Solla Pogirai
Show started off around 7:15 pm with a bang – Jai Ho, which was a surprise considering this was mostly the final song in a lot of his previous concerts .This was followed by Mukkala Mukabala and Ooo Saya which got the crowd into the swing of things . Soon after they went into a couple of Ayutha Ezhuthu specials with Yakkai Thiri and then followed by Nenjam Ellam (Both songs haven’t heard the band perform in the previous concerts , so was super thrilled) . What followed after was just pure bliss of Enna Solla Pogirai – Param Sundari – Maahi Ve leading into the soulful Uyire rendition by the master himself 😇 The setlist so far was just amazing and had me yearning for so much more in the next half . We saw the sun setting soon and then started the raagas section, this was easily my favorite section (literally felt like a kid in candy store) with songs like Narumagaye , Azhagana Ratsachiye , Malargal Kettaen, Aao Balma . Special mention to Haricharan and Rakshitha here , they were simply brilliant.
(Crowd was just trying to take in one classic after classic without any time to recover ).The musical journey continued with songs like Enna Sona , jwalamukhi (99songs), Miss Hairan and Thumbi Thullal. The energy just kept building up with the Sufi section next with a unique rendition of Kun Faaya Kun , the crowd was just soaking it all in . A note on the crowd , it was a pretty diverse crowd with little kids to grown ups to elderly 70+ year old as well , one of the person next to me was a 72 year old Punjabi born in Chennai and moved to USA when he was 5 years old and had never heard any ARR or Indian music for that regard but was here for the concert , just shows the respect ARR commands across the world , hats off . Next , Jonita completely owned the rendition of Agar tum saath ho and right after that the Mozart of Madras as they call him started off with his melodious rendition of Dil Se Re. He made the crowd sing a bit with him and also had them turn their flash lights on which was quite a sight to behold in the arena .
The best was indeed saved for the last stretch
The best was indeed saved for the last stretch , Jonita killed it with her rendition of Rangeela re ,her stage presence and dance was just electrifying the audience. Next up Ameen singing Mustafa had the entire 15000+ crowd swooning to the beat and the mayhem continued into Chaiyya Chaiyya with the crowd refusing to even take a seat, there were elderly , young kids all of them dancing out of their seats. Ranjit Barot then came out of his drums section and showcased his brilliant percussion skills for the song Take it Easy Policy -Urvasi which didn’t let the crowd even take a breather . Right after that came another evergreen classic Humma Humma which made everyone in the crowd try and emulate Nagendra Prasad (Prabhu Deva’s brother who danced in this song) . Every song in the final stretch was followed by a loud roar of once more multiple times , like they say all good things have to come to an end. The concert concluded with the song probably which continues to give everyone goosebumps just like our National anthem does 🙏🏼(Maa Tujhe Salam). Vande Mataram was the war cry again by the entire audience in the end.. My 7th time attending an ARR concert and it only keeps getting better.
All of us were completely exhausted and even forgot to go get some food during the concert and were starting to get hungry . We made our way back to the cars and in the VIP section up front saw some of the VIPs like Anoushka Shankar and some other TV celebrities. Wondered how we could sneak into that line and get a glimpse of the genius backstage , but alas not to be this time. Went to the cars and stopped by to get some dinner on the way reminiscing all the songs and everyone remembered the old days when they had actually listened to these classics for the first time. Checked out all the pics / videos we had taken and started the drive back home extremely satisfied. 30 years and counting but one man continues to create magical music , inspire us and will never forget his matter of fact line at the Oscars – “All my life , had the choice of love and hate , I chose love and am here” profound indeed . Thank you .
Raju P ( ThalaivARR fan for ever )I❤️ARR Community