Last night I went to an A R Rahman Bollywood concert at the Prudential Center in Newark New Jersey. The words Bollywood and concert are oxymorons, because most of the “shows/concerts” that Bollywood puts on through the year in my native NJ are just that shows. The typical bollywood extravaganzas are cannot be described as concerts, as the stars that just come to the US come for the mega bucks they get for their 2 to 3 hours of shaking and grinding to songs that the playback singers have sang for them for movies they have been in.
NOw back to my A R Rahman concert: This was the first live Bollywood style concert I’ve been too in years and let me tell you I was blown away! The composer, producer can really put on a show! He is dimunitive in size but what a wallop his show packs! The live songs (note that there was no playback singing here, it was Live!) and instrumental compositions showcased were amazing. I didn’t see any major Bollywood star (i.e. Shah Rukh Khan) or any glitz that bollywood shows are notorious for.
Also the typical Bollywood style event doesn’t have much live singing. The stars come out and gyrate for 2 to 3 hours dance and gyrate to music from movies. The typica extravaganza’s with bolly-stars are not real concerts, because these shows are just publicity tours. These stars go on national tour in the U.S and get mega moola and make millions (yes Millions!) of dollars at these venues!
Consider that the tickets to a typical Bollywood event can can run up to $200 for the “VIP” seats, you are really not getting value for your money. At this show, the maximium price was like $75. If I wanted to see a star dancing to songs sung by others, I’ll watch them on DVD.
The A R Rahman concerts started one hour late, yet without a doubt it was worth the delay! The late start is normal (Indian Standard Time (IST)). So what if the stadium was only about 1/2 full on a week night (Thursday)? The show was just mind blowing. Every single dancer (majority of them appeared to be American Dancers!), and singer (majority of which I did not recognize), gave everyone their money’s worth for 2 solid hours. You can equate the quality of this performance to a Rafael Nadal tennis match at the US Open. Just overwhelming!
Rahman’s and his touring team’s performance was amazing and will leave you with just one word —> WOW!. The compositions and pieces showcases the true outstanding musician that Rahman truly is. In the recent past many Tamil and Hindi movies with his musical influence are classics and are blockbusters because of his musical genius! I found my self in awe of the production and presentation value. For many that know me, I’m cynical by nature and for me to give this kind of praise for any presentation, the show had to be damn good!
If there is one show you see this year, when this show comes to your town, you must see it! You will bypass all the other “Bollywood Extravaganza’s” that make the US tours every year. This show is the real deal. No stars singing to songs sung by talented singers fro m India, what I saw was LIVE orchestral music, music and of course dance which was choreographed to perfection! With the inclusion of the acrobatics by the dancers and the combination of up and coming vocal stars from India (Excluding Hari Haran), this show exemplified the unique talent that Rahman possesses.
As is in most Indian concerts, the audience was very tepid. They just sat in their seats, tap their feet and take videos with their respective iPhones and camera. Not until the final “Jai Ho” song did the audience come to their feet to give any resemblence of a standing ovation for this magnificent performance. I guess this is part of the culture of going to Indian concerts.
When I left the venue, I felt that I had truly experienced music euphoria and bliss. Entertainment, music, dance, presentation, it was all there in a tightly wrapped package! No interval, just well paced songs with well spaced diversity between slow songs and foot stomping beat showcasing the Dhol, acrobatics, dances will keep you entranced for the duration!
The other bonus to this event was that it was my wife’s birthday and I had received complimentary tickets from my “Vijaya D” from work to see this show! Don’t miss this show when it comes to your town. You will remember and talk about this type of show for a long long time!