It was with cautious pessimism that the city's rock fan fraternity landed up for
the Zero concert.
When you're in Hyderabad, your attitude towards rock concerts follows the same
path as that towards most other things in life. When very young, you are shocked
at anything that isn't perfect - how can people applaud at this, you say.
As you grow, you realize that perfection generally doesn't happen, and that most
of the times you can just be okay and get away with it (and sometimes in flying
That's the case with rock bands out here. You go to two (2) concerts at random,
and you learn not to expect fireworks. The best you can say about some of them
is that they are "okay". And these ones are the best because they are better than
the rest. And when sometimes even outstation and supposedly popular groups prove
you just feel like bringing down a fender guitar upon something a la Meatloaf
in Wasted Youth. Why always us?
So, like we said, it was with cautious pessimism that the guys landed up for the Zero concert.
We suppose the law of averages works with even us Hyderabadi rock fans. For, this was a blowout.
Zero has got to be one of the best rock bands in this country. Even if you account for the fact that we are not used to great performances, this was amazing. Even by the time that they reached their second song - a fantastic rendering of the Lynyrd Skynyrd classic "Sweet Home Alabama" - it was clear that this was going to be a night to remember.
They followed that up with an own composition called "Found", and we couldn't agree more. Even if you use the theoretical approach of rating a band upon their own compositions, Zero would come up trumps. Later renderings from their maiden album "Albummed" titled "Old Man Sitting In The Back Porch" and "Lucy" were all in the same class.
After "Found", Sonu, the vocalist, told us that "Shazneen" would take over for sometime. Sensing some skepticism from the crowd, he added a little defensively that she was good. He need not have taken the trouble. We found that out for ourselves in about 30 seconds, as she launched into a "Rock 'n Roll" tune from Led Zep. She followed up with a Sheryl Crow number and then one by Alanis Morisette, and believe us, the originals couldn't have done any better - at least on the latter one. Shazneen should seriously pursue a career in this line, if she isn't already.
The guy on the lead (Warren Mendonca?) was amazing. The band did not have anyone on rhythm, but they sure didn't need one. This guy makes it all look so simple. The bassist gets dwarfed with this kind of a 'lead'er around, and that is what happened.
Sonu was a bundle of energy. And talent. Amidst all the Black Crowes and Queens and Firehouses and Bad Companies and Led Zeppelins - incidentally, the Led Zep fans had a field day here - he had the crowd in raptures. There was some wild headbanging by the 250-strong crowd. And as the night went well past 12 (the crowd in TI starts pouring in at midnight!), these guys showed why they won Livewire, and made it a night to remember for all the rock fans who were there.
Interestingly, there were pretty few real popular numbers - the likes of Metallica, GnR, Sabbath, Floyd and Eagles - in the concert. Were these guys on a more 'evolved' trip, or were they avoiding numbers that everyone could measure and evaluate them on? I mean, how many have heard Bad Company?
The gig started 2 hours late, at 9pm, with an intro by our own N'grave'n, who seemed to be better at blues than at rock. Apart from a talented lead guitarist (Rajeev), there's not much to rave about here. We still aren't clear whose version of "Knocking On Heaven's Door" they played, for instance. Like you can understand, it would've been impolite to ask.
One thing these guys and all the other bands in town should understand is that if you are playing someone else's tune, you better be able to sound exactly like that. People will only notice how much you aren't sounding like the original, not how close you are to it. People need to know you are too good before they indulge any of your experiments of deviation. What to do, life's like that.