Also see video clip at the bottom of the review.
Maybe it’s a good thing that Lucky Ali left after his part of the concert. Local boy Karthik would’ve given him a hell of a complex. The Open Air Theatre at IIT came alive on its feet with, what the IITians believe is, the biggest crowd ever drawn at Saarang pro-shows.
Good old Lucky couldn’t help saying: “What a great campus, man,” before he warmed up to the junta with his brand of soul, sporting a brown waistcoat over a black tee and cargo-styled denim. Casual and laid-back, just like his approach to music.
Maybe he took it a tad too light with an all-new line-up for a band to play in front of one of the greatest crowds any musician in the world would die for.
“We’re just getting to know each other,” he admitted, introducing his internationally-flavoured band led by his New Zealander brother-in-law, producer and guitarist Michael. “He’s not married yet,” Lucky told the girls as one of them screamed: “Michael is yummy.”
The boys in the crowd, of course, promptly yelled back: “Where’s your wife?”
Lucky got them swaying with an eclectic mix of slow and soul, with those mobile phones glowing in the dark as Lucky exclaimed in awe: “This is one of the best crowds I’ve ever seen. It felt like a thousand stars out there.”
Without a break, Lucky had them hooked for about 80 minutes, with most of his album regulars starting from ‘Anjaane Mein,’ ‘Tumse Milne,’ ‘Yeh Zamana,’ ‘Jaane Kya Doondtha,’ ‘Mujhe Aisa Lagta hai’ (made in Chennai) and ‘O Sanam’ which made the crowd chant: “Once More, Once More.”
“Everybody’s gonna go through this at some stage in life,” he said, introducing ‘Yeh Jawani’. But it was the film music that got the crowd really excited. “Aa Bhi Ja” got them all senti as they joined in the singing.
The finale though was turning out to be a near anti-climax as the band went out of sync for ‘Ek Pal Ka Jeena’ – THE song junta was waiting for.
Lucky stopped to apologise, taking the blame, but only after he first tried blaming it on technology. At IIT?
But then, he began the song from the start again and this time, the crowd was back to loving Lucky.
There was nearly a half hour break before Karthik took stage. The crowd did all possible countdowns as prompted by the Core, went on to do a count-up, recited A to Z and even started singing nursery rhymes and Happy Birthday to Karthik to keep themselves amused.
With the pressure mounting, would the local boy satisfy the full house?
Right from the moment he crooned, ‘Oru Maalai Ila Veyil Neram,’ it was truly one of the best concerts ever. Not only because Karthik is a great singer who had his hand on the pulse of the audience. He had a tight band to back him up. And he knows it.
“You like my band,” he asked excitedly before going on to tell them: “This is a song I really like. It’s from Kaakha Kaakha. We have the director here and I’ve spotted him. Let’s thank him for showing Jyotika so beautifully in this song.”
‘Oru Ooril Azaaghe’ was followed by ‘Therathi Veethiyil Thiruvizha’ as he got off stage and went into the crowd, holding the mike up to the boys to join him in concert.
Kalyani did a fabulous job of keeping them entertained with a medley of ‘Parde Main Rehne Do’ and ‘Dhoom Machale’ before Karthik came back with ‘Unnale Unnale’
“Everything here on stage is being played for you live. No sequencing or programming,” he announced, before breaking into ‘Oh Hum Dum Suniyo Re’ and finishing the song with the Tamil original ‘Endrum Endrum Punnagai’.
Andhraites in IIT had a surprise waiting as Karthik thrust the mike in front of his shy guest from Hyderabad, music director Micky J. Meyer before going on to sing ‘Arey Re Arey Re’ from Happy Days. The crowd erupted in ecstasy, transporting you to Hyderabad instantly as students joined in the singing.
Language seemed to be no barrier. “We will rock you,” he launched his tribute to Queen and the crowd was only too glad to be rocked. Karthik, in spite of proving to be an Energizer Bunny, gave melody the due choosing to sing songs not originally sung by him. And Hariharan would have been pleased to hear the young singer do ‘Nila Kaaykirathu’ (from Indira).
‘Pehla Nasha’ further intoxicated the young before Andhraiites bonded over ‘Oh My Friend’ (also from Happy Days). Karthik returned to his rockish best with ‘Enakku Oru Girlfriend Venumada’ sending fans into a frenzy before his hand lent a nice Elvis-y touch to ‘Baar Baar Dekho,’ a surprise for retro-lovers.
Though what he sings mostly is in the realm of boy-band songs and love ballads, while performing, he does it with the attitude of a rockstar with plenty of scope for audience participation. Yes, it helps that Bennett is quite something with the lead guitar.
Calling the IIT Core members to the stage, he launched into what’s considered an anthem for the youth, ‘Mustafa Mustafa’ for a finale. Sensing they wanted more, he captured the mood with ‘Engeyum Epothum Sangeetham Santhosham’.
And, junta was on Cloud Nine: “ARaaa-raaaa-reee-reeee Yo!