Concert Review: A.R. Rahman, May 24, Sony Centre

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Before A.R. Rahman took to the stage on Sunday night, an intro video was screened featuring several people talking about the man and his work. At one point, the words “AR Rahman = magic” flashed on the screen. A bold statement perhaps, but for many of those in attendance, it was an apt one – this was an audience that was ready to be dazzled, ready to see some magic. In contrast to this buildup, when Rahman first addressed the crowd, he rather humbly thanked everyone for coming and added that he hoped we would enjoy the show. I think it’s safe to say that everyone did.

Though a superstar in India, Rahman first caught the attention of North American audiences through his soundtrack to Danny Boyle’s Oscar winning Slumdog Millionaire. To many though, that’s probably where their knowledge of Rahman’s work ends. I would count myself in that group – other than “Jai Ho,” I had heard some of his soundtrack work and had done a bit of homework on YouTube before heading to the show, but I was largely unfamiliar with most of his repertoire. That didn’t really matter one bit though – Rahman and his ensemble put on an engaging, entertaining show regardless.

Musically, Rahman is able to incorporate a lot of different influences into his sound and the band he’s assembled for his current “Intimate Concert Tour” was more than capable of handling it all. By the second song in their set, they were incoporating a bouncy reggae-ish beat. Shortly thereafter, one song featured the violinist taking centre stage for a solo over a funky bassline in a moment that wouldn’t have been out of place at a Dave Matthews concert (except without the beachballs, hackey sacks and fratboys prevalent at Dave’s shows). At another point, the band tried their hand at a jazzy number that Rahman had composed for a film. “We get to do all this stuff – jazz, folk, classical,” he explained. “It becomes acceptable when the film becomes a hit.”

And Rahman certainly has a few hits under his belt if the adulation shown by the audience and the several “I love yous!” heard throughout the night were any indication. While he comes across as a fairly humble guy, Rahman definitely seems aware of the love he’s getting from the crowd, taking the time to acknowledge them as often as he could. One of my favourite moments of the night was when he got up from his spot at the piano for no discernible reason and just started strolling/strutting across the stage as if to say, “Yeah, I’m A.R. Rahman. How’s it going?”

The concert ended in a somewhat unique and unusual way – with a credits sequence listing all of the people who’ve worked on the tour, from wardrobe to lighting and so on. “After the credits, we’ll play for a little bit. So watch the credits.” It was an obvious nod to his work as a film composer and so, much like the audience at the latest blockbuster from Marvel Studios, we watched and we waited for the inevitable post-credits scene. Would Nick Fury arrive with news that he was putting together a team for Rahman to join? Nah, he’s already been there and done the supergroup thing with Superheavy so that was out of the question. Rather, after the credits rolled, Rahman and his band returned to the stage to run through “Mental Manadhil” and finished off with a little taste of “Jai Ho,” thus ending things like many of the films he’s scored – with a happy ending.

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Posted on by Paul in Concerts

One Response to Concert Review: A.R. Rahman, May 24, Sony Centre

  1. sunil

    Really,!!!!

    For a non-tamil person, the show was havoc with 60% tamil song

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