When you reach a concert dripping wet from an evening shower (courtesy mother nature’s generosity) – it’s a funny coincidence that the first musical piece on arrival is titled ‘Chennai Rains.’ And this was a fusion concert, quite the opposite of what one is used to hearing at Vani Mahal. So water pellets came in the form of resounding drum rhythms led by drum exponent Murali Krishnan of Jus Drums – School of Percussion and a snazzy electric guitar added a whole new flavour to the soundscape. It was Saturday evening with a packed auditiorium, despite the wet weather. And this wasn’t surprising considering the impressive line-up of musicians set to perform: award winning percussionist Pete Lockett from London and mridangam maestro Dr Umayalpuram K Sivaraman. While all of Chennai scurried for an umbrella and a swift ride home, this audience couldn’t be happier. It was raining music legends.
When Murali aka Drums Murali warned us to “expect fireworks,” he certainly wasn’t kidding. His mentor, Dr Umayalpuram dove into a 20-minute marathon mridangam solo, his fingers drawing one in slowing with a steady rhythm and then all of suddenly catching people off guard with a lightning switch of speedy percussion. The Padma Vibhushan awardee also charmed music lovers with his light sense of humour that he made a point to pepper through the show. The 77-year-old joked later, “In a world full of fast things - fast food, fast world, fast tempo. Why slow tempo?”
This was promptly followed by a dynamic music dialogue between master and sishya – with mridangam and drums.
As the impromptu duel of words via percussion beats kicked off, one couldn’t help but be caught up in the fast pace of rhythm and engaging onstage chemistry. From the roaring applause at the end, this was definitely one of the evening’s highlights.
Unfortunately by the time Pete Lockett took the stage for the final leg of the concert, folks were already a tad restless from the show’s duration. But the Britisher was in a class of his own as he effortlessly managed an assortment of exotic looking percussion instruments -transporting one to a tropical rainforest far away. Beautiful, melodic heaven.
Then we went outside and got wet again. And briskly percussion pellets weren’t romantic anymore.