Renowned musician Stephen Devassy and his band, along with violinist Manoj George, gave a stunning performance of film and fusion music at Chowdiah Memorial Hall, on the occasion of Bangalore Club for Karnataka and the Arts’ annual charity event. The band owned the stage from the word go, opening with a power-packed rhythmic instrumental performance. Devassy enthralled the audience with his charming stage presence as each musician performed extended solos. Their energetic two-hour performance set the stage for a stellar show by eminent musicians like flautist and saxophonist extraordinaire Josie, bass guitarist Josie John, percussionist Shomi Davis, ghatam artiste Giridhar Udupa and drummer Nirmal Xavier. The musicians were also accompanied by reality show stars Vishnu, Shyam Prasad, Ramya and Suraj. Manoj George, renowned violinist and music composer, completed the ensemble.
The crowd broke into loud cheers and hoots when Devassy approached the stage from amidst the audience. While Vishnu started off with a melodious Tamil song, Shyam Prasad got the audience on their feet with Avial covers of Chekkele and Nada Nada, two of the most popular Malayalam rock numbers of recent times. Surprisingly, the Bangaloreans had no trouble singing along. The Ilayaraja numbers were a hit with the crowd as well.
The highlight of the show was perhaps the section were Devassy decided to pay tribute to love with popular love tracks from the past two decades being performed by the musicians, sans the vocal tracks. But characteristically, Devassy soon had the crowd singing for him, with the band belting out tracks like Pehla Nasha, Kal Ho Na Ho, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai among others. The Tamil numbers proved even more popular with select A R Rahman songs like Malargale, O Shanti getting the loudest cheers.
Chants for more Rahman songs filled the hall and Devassy obliged. Popular Kannada songs like Anisuthide and Ninnindale were also appreciated.
The next section saw Varijashree, a Hindustani classical prodigy of sorts, bring the tempo down to a soothing ripple. Apart from singing a couple of classical pieces, she also played the flute to Rahman’s Tu Hi Re, the popular number from the movie Bombay. This section was dedicated to all the women in the country, keeping in mind the recent rape attacks. “We need to remember how to honour our women again,” said Devassy to strong applause.
A fusion piece by the entire crew had Devassy really showing off his skill on the keyboard. The song was set to raga Rasikapriya. The concert came to a close with the Malayalam rock anthem Vattayi Poyo with the whole crew on stage for this number and the crowd going wild.
By the time the concert wound up at around 10:30 pm, the audience was happily exhausted but not so much as to collect autographs and get their pictures taken with Devassy and band.