Concerts - Oakland (2007) | Poster, Videos, Review

AR Rahman Oakland Concert 2007
Last Updated : 31-08-2010
Category : Concerts
Year : 2007
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Status > Concert Date : June 02, 2007
Venue : Oakland, California
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AR Rahman Oakland Concert 2007 – Behind The Story
Posted By LISA TSERING | India-West Staff Reporter (Thanks to Anil Nair)

OAKLAND, Calif. - Halfway through a lively show at the Oracle Arena June 2, A.R. Rahman put on the brakes, and took a moment to ask The audience to pause in their revelry.

"You are all in high spirits right now," the composer said softly. "But think about those who are in hunger, or living in poverty." Seated at a grand piano, he started to play the gentle "Pray for Me Brother," inspiring thousands of fans to wave their lighted cell phones in the dark, swaying to the music.

It was just one of many memorable moments during a three-hour Concert that saw the sold-out crowd leap to their feet for his greatest Hits from "Dil Se," "Taal," "Roja" and "Bombay," and newer, but just As distinctive, songs from "Rang De Basanti," "Water" and "Guru."

The show wasn't all Bollywood - when Rahman performed "Vaaji vaaji en jeevan si sivaji" and "Athiradee" from "Sivaji," the hotly anticipated Rajnikanth starrer due out June 15, his South Indian fans erupted in hysteria, gyrating in the aisles and screaming, "Sivaji! Sivaji!" A performance of the film's Sahaana saaral" by Chitra and a young male singer got an equally enthusiastic response.

From the beginning of the concert, when the maestro appeared on a high riser at the back of the stage greeted by a fireworks display,to the ending strains of "Vande Mataram," his signature closing piece, A.R. Rahman led an unforced program that veered between the extremes of his prolific catalog, from haunting ballads to infectious rockers. Some of his musicians told India-West backstage that the song list hadn't been put together until the last minute, which lent an air of spontaneity to the show.

Rahman is an unlikely megastar. Softspoken, humble and completely dedicated to his music, he spent most of his time onstage behind a large bank of keyboards, out of the spotlight, as his longtime musical director, K. Srinivas Murthy, led a group of Indian and Western musicians and percussionists.

The composer has always been willing to cede attention to his guest stars, who included ace guitarist Rashid Ali and University of South Florida music student Patrick Hernly, a gifted young percussionist who blew the crowd away with a virtuoso centerstage display of table bol.

Vocalists Sukhwinder Singh, Hariharan, Chitra, Madhushree, Sadhana Sargam, Blaaze, Naresh Iyer and other talented voices, along with scene-stealing drummer Sivamani, got some of the best response with songs from "Guru," including sizzling versions of "Tere bina" and "Barso re."

But one of the major discoveries of the evening was Neeti Mohan, an extraordinary young vocalist who added sparkle to a version of "Guru's" "Mayya mayya" when she appeared onstage wrapped in a huge, voluminous, bright red length of silk. As she slowly turned, dancers unwrapped her to reveal a saucy belly-dancing costume, and Mohan, accompanied by two more belly dancers, writhed to the item number's Middle Eastern beat. Mohan, who is a trained dancer, singer and actress with a spot on "Coke [V] Popstars 2" and a role in the Sunny Deol production "Socha Na Tha" to her credit, is also the lead singer in a Mumbai pop band called Aasma.

"Rang De Basanti" produced some of the most exciting scenes of the night as Naresh Iyer teamed with rapper/lyricist Blaaze on the rock anthem "Paathshala/ Be a rebel," and Sivamani tore up the drums on "Khalbali" as dancers in shiny white bodysuits moved around the stage.

Hariharan, accompanied by Sadhana Sargam, lent a delicate touch to "Sapnay's" "Chanda re" and - since no Rahman show would be complete without it – turned in a haunting version of "Roja" in Hindi.

Sukhwinder excelled on "Ramta jogi" and his usual marathon Version of "Chhaiya chhaiya," and was joined by Stanford University's talented a cappella troupe Raagapella on "Chan chan" from Deepa Mehta's Oscar-nominated film, "Water."

Naresh Iyer, too, got plenty of stage time on songs like "RDB's" "Roobaroo," performing a duet with Rahman on vocals.

Fans hoping for songs from "Lagaan," "Bombay Dreams" or "Jillendru Oru Kadhal," one of 2006's biggest Tamil soundtracks, will have To wait until Rahman's next show, as he deliberately left them out this time around.

Rahman's between-song patter was economical, at one time giving a brief mention to the fact that several of "Water's" songs had been shortlisted for a Best Song Oscar nomination.

He also mentioned his efforts to help bring the Taj Mahal to international prominence with a new campaign to add it to an official list of the New Seven Wonders of the World (as India-West readers know, Rahman has agreed to compose a song to spread awareness of New7Wonders. com, the New Seven Wonders voting campaign on the Internet). "Officially, the Taj is not a Wonder of the World," he said. "That's a fact. Ask your friends to vote for it on the Net."

Rahman even showed his comic side when he made a thinly veiled Barb at pop music phenomenon Himesh Reshammiya. Telling the audience that he'd been working and traveling a lot lately and had caught a cold, Rahman said he told his doctor that he was concerned that he couldn't perform with such a nasal voice."The doctor said not to worry - that's the 'in' thing," said Rahman.

Rahman seemed genuinely touched when he learned that the City of Oakland had proclaimed June 2 as "A.R. Rahman Day" in the city, And warmly accepted a plaque from a representative of Oakland City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente.

This show was quite different in tone from Rahman's most recent California shows. His Hollywood Bowl performance last July (the First Indian concert in the venue's history) focused on more of a Crossover international sound, with music from "Bombay Dreams" and the Chinese epic "Warriors of Heaven and Earth"; while Rahman's 2001 and 2003 shows featured marquee names such as Udit Narayan and were more emotionally resonant, tending more toward romantic material and more sensitive solos at the piano than 2007's largely high energy rock focus.

Deepak Mehta of Mehta Entertainment, making his debut as an international promoter with this tour, and his brother, promoter Vinod Mehta, made special concessions to VIP ticketholders by Laying down a red carpet in the VIP section, where guests sipped complimentary champagne.

"I feel proud of the show," Deepak Mehta told India-West afterward. "It was an excellent show, and to put this kind of thing on is not a small thing."

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