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Rock of ages

He is the poster boy of classic rock, or, as other music enthusiasts fondly say, the rockstar of the city. At 61, his voice is still sonorous. 

Published: 22nd January 2020 06:46 AM  |   Last Updated: 22nd January 2020 06:46 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

KOCHI: He is the poster boy of classic rock, or, as other music enthusiasts fondly say, the rockstar of the city. At 61, his voice is still sonorous. Thiruvananthapuram-based musician Nandu Leo’s musical journey began decades ago. As he gears up to organise the yearly gig ‘Music for Peace’, city’s music aficionados are waiting with baited breath. 

The annual music festival organised by Nandu Leo and friends will be a platform to  walk down the memory lane and listen to the evergreen classic rock songs of the 70s and 80s.Perhaps, there is no one else who is as revered and considered the face of rock music in the city as Nandu Leo. Yet, it would come as a surprise that the man never really had any formal training. Back when he forayed into western music, Nandu visited a well known music composer of Malayalam cinema who was well versed in Carnatic music to learn voice control.

But it never really took off. The class ended the very same day it began, when Nandu told the musician that he sang at a hotel. He was asked to never step into the class again. Though his mother was a classical singer, it was western music that beckoned Nandu. And it was through listening to the greats that he trained himself. In the late 70s, he had his first concert in VJT Hall. It was in 1977 that he formed his first band ‘Bahnkruger’. “We were the first band to play our own compositions. And we were looked down upon,” he recalls. Hence, the band performed its original compositions masquerading them as newly released pieces of established bands. In those days with no internet, they could easily pull it off. “Some fun,” Nandu chuckles. In those days,

the rock culture in the city was at its peak. “Back in the days we had only tapes and LPs. You get a Bob Marley tape, it was passed among everyone in your circle. People would listen on a loop to mug up the lyrics. And by the time we performed a cover, we couldn’t make a single mistake. Even friends would boo if we messed up. That is what made me stay back in the city. I thought this place was going to be great. But I never expected rock will vanish from here. It is terrible,” he says. And yet, maybe to reminisce the good old times that Nandu organises the gig ‘Music for Peace’ annually.

This year, the gig is being held at Vyloppilli Samskruthi Bhavan. The band Nandu Leo and Friends will perform on January 26. Antony Isaacs of Isaacs family will be on rhythm guitar and vocals. Cindy Nandakumar, Nandu’s daughter, will also be singing at the concert. The show will feature Sunil Silvester (lead guitar, backing vocals), Garry Lobo (keyboards), Binny Isaac (bass guitar) and Shibu Samuel (drums, percussion).The show will start at 6.30pm. Tickets are priced at `450 and are available at major retail shops in the city.



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