It has been a long time since we had an ABBA tribute show in Chennai. And there is no significance to the date, July 21 (Sunday), to do it. But if you're out of the loop with Chennai's music scene, here's some good news: this ABBA show is the first of six tribute shows to come this year. Surprisingly, the man behind it all is Michael Muthu, a name most people identify with theatre. But the theatre director breaks the stereotype when he gives this reporter a quick blast from the past.
"We used to have a group called The Buzz back in the 90s," Muthu recalls. "And we did several music tribute performances – from Bob Dylan to The Beatles...we even did an all-out saxophone evening called Sax Sax Sax!" But after close to 20 shows, sponsorships got tougher and it was decided that The Buzz had to be put on pause for awhile.
"But now we're back," says Muthu and he makes it a point to emphasise, "This won't be your one-off show". Following, Thank You For The Music – their tribute to the timeless Swedish group, music lovers in the city can look forward to a concert reminiscing Michael Jackson on his birth anniversary, August 29. And of course, seeing as Muthu is synonymous for his famed sets and theatre direction – we would think there was something wrong if there aren't a couple of theatre productions in the works as well.
In fact, he reveals, "For the ABBA show, I actually did some research on google on the kind of sets that ABBA used in their time – and I've infused some of those elements on our sets made for the show." As for the setlist planned for the evening and handled by a veteran in Chennai's music circuit, Sudhin Prabhakar, we're told that one can expect all the favourites – from Dancing Queen to Money Money Money to the more sombre Fernando.
With 17 artists set to take the stage, including big names like Keith Peters, Sunitha Sarathy and Timmy Madhukar – there's no doubt that the cream of the city's musicians will be bringing ABBA to life this Sunday. And if you're a Michael Muthu fan, it turns out that this may be one of those rare chances you'll get to hear him sing as well. "Oh I'm opening the concert," he smiles. "I'm singing a welcome song. I think it will be a whole lot better than making a speech!"
(The ABBA tribute concert will be held at the Museum Theatre on July 21. For details, contact 9884599907.)