The last time I went to witness ARR live was in the year 2011. It was in Bangalore and since it was an open air concert and I could only afford the relatively cheaper tickets, the experience was horrible. The sounds were terrible due to the wind and people screaming plus it was more of a pre-recorded lip sync deal.
However, when I went to Chicago this year to watch ARR live, there were a few pleasant surprises.
1. It was mostly, a 'live' concert with just the last set of songs pre-recorded. It sounded so real and not too perfect, which is perfectly fine and human. I felt some 'value' in shelling out the big bucks and driving down to Chicago in the horrible traffic.
2. The main singers, Haricharan and Jonita, were truly mindblowing. They were actually 'singing' and not 'lip-syncing' and it was a welcome change from most of the concerts I have attended lately.
3. My top picks were 'Naane Varugiren' by Jonita and 'Kaadhal Rojaave' instrumental version by the same lady violinist who played during Yanni's concert. 'Thee Thee' from Thiruda Thiruda was also, a treat in which ARR and Ranjit Barot played with a virtual keyboard developed by Intel especially for ARR. Needless to say, the Thee Thee song took me down the memory lane to my dance performance at Raagam, NIT Calicut in the year 2004.
My other favorites were 'Jaane Tu' Jazz version by Annette Philip of Berkeley College and a random instrumental jam led by Ranjit Barot and Annette.
4. ARR was as usual in his normal, humble self. He was still able to hit all the higher notes while singing Dil Se Re. Loved the improvised violin interludes for this.
5. Another notable improvisation was the addition of English lyrics for 'Ishq Bina' sung by Jonita Gandhi.
6. It was good to see some other 'internet-familiar' faces in the artist line-up such as Mohini Dey on the bass and Keba Jeremiah on the acoustic guitars.
Well, it cannot be all that good, right? There were some less appealing things as well.
1. The most irritating part for the first 45 minutes of the concert was the audience screaming and clapping for literally, every single line sung. Some things never change no matter which part of the world you live in.
2. The mixing was terrible as the concert started and we couldn't hear Keba's acoustic guitars at all but, eventually the sound engineer caught up. I am sure the engineer must have had a tough time figuring out the right mix in the beginning amidst the chaos. Thanks to the audience again.
There were only a fewer artists on the stage compared to ARR's previous concerts. The MacBook main stage and Technology has eliminated the need for more humans to bring out maximum effect during a live concert. However, seeing ARR with his YouTube-discovered artists forces me to raise this question - if ARR was discovered in this internet era as an independent musician, would he still have made it big? Well, you never know.
On that note, here is one of my all time favorite songs of ARR, Yeh Haseen Vaadiyaan sung by Sunil Koshy and me and mixed by Anil C J.
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