There are few more demotivating ways of starting a day than by appreciating the
nuances of a live rendition of a Concerto In V (rock guitar style) by the Scorpions
and following it up with a live recording of Black Sabbath on its reunion, when
the evening needs you to be at a they-say-it's-rock-but-we-know-it's-indipop nite.
I mean, you're there or you're here. How many people do you know who worship classic
rock and who'd also kill for the latest indipop chart-topper?
But I'd done it, and now we were here, listening to the creaking of a sugarcane juice crusher outside the venue as we tried to navigate our way in, and we know it's not supposed to be happening. Being able to listen to that creaking, that is. Mind-blowing sound, they said in the ads. So where was it?
The corrugated metal hoarding all around the place didn't tell any stories, either. And walking around it trying to identify the entrance marked on our ticket, we were puzzled by all those people going out. Oh God, was it that bad? But there still was a queue of about 50 people standing outside the entrance waiting to get in. We joined the queue, and soon the usher ripped our tickets and let us in.
And we were staring at a sea of humanity.
The Channel [V] Wanted Live show at the Nizam College grounds has got to be one
of the biggest hits in recent times in terms of sheer crowd size. There were people
everywhere, for as far as you could see. And this was the quintessential Hyderabadi
youth: pumped up, full of the joie de vivre, caustically cynical and genuinely
impressed, opinionated, witty, informed and just itself. Voila Hyderabad!
And being part of this amazing crowd was a treat in itself. The antics, the PJs, the dancing, the booing, the cheering and the sheer energy out there are some things that nothing else in the world can parallel. It's one of those rare occasions when thousands of Hyderabadis gather at one place and display an amazing zest. When you're here, it's purely to revel in that feeling and that company. The music, even if pumping out at deafening decibels, is just a reason out here.
In fact, it was that way until the halfway mark. The show till then was mostly loud and uninspiring. If you discount for the fact that a few tens of thousands of watts can make anything sound good, it was mostly the crowd that was entertaining itself. And mostly at the cost of the performers. What would you, for example, infer of a display aimed at you of bare-chested male bodies while you were busy singing?
Sanjay Maroo, ex-Rock Machine, experienced it first-hand. He started off with trying to do a solo on the drums, and we either aren't sophisticated enough for what we heard or he's better off being part of the group. He then sang some of his more recent compositions like 'Woh Aayegi' karaoke style, with the only accompaniment being support vocals. Maroo does have a sonorous voice, but weren't we promised a live music show?
The first half of the evening also featured a troupe that danced to Mambo No. 5 and such other songs, and Channel [V] VJs trying to entertain. The former was tolerable, and the latter was juvenile. You look at the antics and develop new respect for the MTV dudes. At least they have class. What do you make out of a VJ doing somersaults on stage thinking that'll entertain a crowd of average age 21? We guys didn't much. One of them started stripping hoping to elicit screams from the crowd, and some guy screamed, "Stop, we aren't like you!" Like we said, it was a treat to be part of this hardcore Hyderabadi crowd.
The session ended for a commercial break, which was the happiest ending it could get. And it was then that we got what we wanted.
Abbey first came on stage, and there was immediate chemistry. He read his Energico in the crowd. And right from when he started with Oh Sanam, the crowd was dancing to his tunes. He followed up with Fida and more chemistry. Abbey has a stage presence and a way with the crowds that can win over even a crowd put off by some ordinary performances early on. He did 3 songs and a repeat of Oh Sanam, and the crowd was now actually into the music.
And then came the promised stars of the evening - Euphoria. And the leitmotif for the rest of the evening became a monosyllable - music.
There are two ways of looking at Euphoria's performance this evening. If you were
at the Parikrama
concert late last year and are a die-hard rocker, then I suppose you wouldn't
have a tough time deciding who you'd will your property to. But if you were here
as an indipop fan who also likes a bit of Western, then things don't get much
better. As an 'Indirock' group like it calls itself, Euphoria was worth every
minute you spent there.
Euphoria had 3 guitarists, one musician each on the keyboards and the drums, and 2 tabla players(!). The outstanding person, though, was a doctor - Palash Sen, the lead vocalist. On both scale and pitch, the voice told you why it sells like it does. And it's a real puzzle how anyone can sustain that power for 90 minutes and more. The ensemble was nothing ordinary, either. For as long as Euphoria played their hit tunes like Hum and Dhoom, the crowd was in raptures.
They then decided to do some rocking, and started with It's My Life (the Bon Jovi version). And this was where the difference between a full-fledged rock band and an Indirock band came out. The vocals were still okay, but the music was patently a cut below. The power in the chords, especially on the lead (who was doing the lead, anyway?), was clearly lacking. And Bon Jovi isn't even rock. So when they moved onto "We Will Rock You", they met your expectations only if you'd lowered them.
So did any rock dreams come true? Depends on your definition of rock, we suppose. The crowd was a rocking delight, and that's what this show will be remembered for. Kudos to Showtime (the event managers) and Channel [V] for a great job. People who were here won't forget this in a hurry, and as for those who weren't, they won't hear the last of it for sometime!