Fusion music has got all kinds of bad rap — from lovers of classical Indian music, who think Western and Indian should not mix at all, and hardcore rock enthusiasts, who loathe the very idea of it. Yet, headbangers and classical purists alike came together at the Egmore Museum Theatre on Saturday to contribute to the Sunshine Activity Centre, a centre that houses special children, through their performance. The presence of Chennai’s acclaimed fusion band Oxygen certainly helped.
Muses 2013, a charity concert organised by the Kasivishwanathan Ambiga Kamalammal Trust, in aid of their Sunshine Activity Centre, was a resounding hit solely because of the spirit of the audience. Though there were as many empty seats as there were people in the 150-year-old auditorium, the frenetic energy and the pace with which the band members breezed through their sets more than made up for it.
The evening started off with a bang, literally, with one of Oxygen’s own compositions titled Rain Dance. The song, a fusion of Latin music and the Carnatic raga Keeravani, had the audience clapping as hard as they could at its end. Several other compositions by the band followed, all made memorable by the merriment it invoked in the audience that evening.
The best song there was, though, was Desert Mirage — an original composition from Oxygen’s second album Dimensions. The song was an experiment in two genres with similar rich histories — Arabic and Indian. The fast beats of the drums and the energetic violin had the kids from the Sunshine Activity Centre jumping up and down in their seats. The evening hit a high when the band performed their versions of Elay Keechan from Kadal and Ay Hairathe from Guru. The latter turned out to be a hit with the audience as violinist Karthick Iyer’s voice soothed them after the frenetic pace of the previous songs. Their version of Bharathiyar’s Suttum Vizhi Sudar Dhan Kannamma too had the music lovers losing themselves in the song.
As the evening concluded with one of their new compositions that would feature in their next album, this reporter would say that it was a ticket well-spent. The audience members would certainly agree.