It all started with one of the most anticipated events in 2007: A.R.Rahman's 3rd dimension tour in North America with over 70 artists consisting of renowned singers, a full-fledged orchestra and a number of dancers. The 3 week tour kicked off with a blazing concert at Oracle Arena in Oakland/San Francisco area.
The quiet Saturday evening witnessed progressive crowd trickling in to the arena and settling with Ethnic Indian finger foods and Garlic french fries. The excitement started to build up in the hall from 8 pm onwards with whistles and chants galore of 'Rahman.. Rahman'. At around half past 8 pm, the eagerness and anticipation of crowd was broken with an envelope of complete darkness and a short pause of silence. What followed that, was an experience of a lifetime that would linger in the minds forever.
Blazee (pronounced as Blah-Zae) stormed the evening with a rousing welcome rap for San Francisco that went like "Boys and Girls of San Francisco, Are you ready for the show ..." accompanied with roaring Sivamani beats. The crowd burst out at the mention of "The one and only A.R.Rahmaaaaaaaan ...". Playback singer Chitra started with Jaage Hain from Guru and as the tempo increased, the spotlight turned to the Maestro A.R.Rahman who joined with his high pitch sensational singing as he walked down the ramp. This eventually transformed into the energetic number KhalBali again by A.R.Rahman. An array of melodies filled the air in the form of Chanchan (Water), Ramta Jogi (Taal) and Roja Janeman (Roja). Once Hariharan sensed the anticipation in the crowd for Tamizh songs, he instantly started with Vaaji Vaaji Sivaji (... No guesses here, this song is from the most anticipated Tamizh movie ever SIVAJI) which was just mind-blowing to hear in the concert hall. Crowd wanted more of Sivaji and all our wishes were fulfilled with the soothing and haunting Sahana.
All these set the perfect platform for a cracker of a evening continuously bombarded with the energetic PAATSHAALAAs, ROOBAROOs, and the DIL SEs. However, the biggest biggie was yet to come. There were periods of gap between the songs and the troupe enchanted us with magical tunes of bass, percussion and flute (Naveen). A.R.Rahman also made use of these short periods to supply us with interesting tidbits and experiences. When the typical Rajini (aka. thalaivaa) 'chook-chook' tune began, the crowd went bonkers. Our prayers were finally answered. Blaaze and Naresh Iyer instantly hit the 'Sega Fightaa.. Sivaj Rightaaa.. ' energetically. The off-beat tunes with the funky lyrics of the Boss (Sivaji) and live orchestra just lit the arena on fire. The energy levels were a new high and was unlike anything witnessed before. As a perfect sequel, A.R.Rahman stepped down from his pedestal for rendering the most anticipated Athiradee (Sivaji). This song was in fact ATHIRADEE as half of the audience got off their seats and began dancing to the rocking tunes. The next 5 minutes witnessed the whole arena filled with chants of 'Sivaji Rightaa.. Sivaji Rightaaa'. If this was not enough, Sivamani's 5 minute solo on the 100-some drums around him accompanied with vocal percussion was earth-shattering. He perfectly blended western beats with dapanguthu and controlled the tempo of the beats at will.
After a number of high-intensity songs, Rahman settled calmly on the Grand Piano with a message for humankind. He started with "I know everyone here is on high spirits here, but we have to do our part for the human kind", played some soulful tunes before treating us with the enchanting anthem for UN 'Pray for me brother'. The crowd joined him in the support and serenity by swaying gracefully with cell phone lights creating a candle-light effect. The song and the moment was just magical and heavenly.
The concert was not over yet. A parade of songs rained from the movie Guru; the mystic and exotic Maya Maya, the playful Barso Re and the enchanting Ey Hairathey & Tere Bina. The list of songs for the evening just went endless and is not covered in entirety here. The crowd got to its feet again with the ever-green Chaya Chaya (Dil Se), a regular in all A.R.Rahman concerts. Playback singer, Sukhwinder Singh would not let go of the song so easily. He continued to play and experiment with it as the crowd got into an increased state of frenzy. The euphoria and the ecstasy hit unprecented levels with SaReGaMe (Boys) and Humma Humma (Bombay) as both songs were accompanied with high pitch vocals, pulsating beats, groovy tunes and energetic singing. The patriotic and the powerful Vande Mataram from A.R.Rahman himself was a fitting finale to one of the best events ever. The crowd wanted more music in this already 3+ hour concert. Rightfully, June 2nd was named as A.R.Rahman day.
At the end of the day, it was pure bliss .. served in plenty by the genius of A.R.Rahman. One only hopes that such magic happens more regularly. The music, the moments, the atmosphere, the crowd and finally the man A.R.Rahman.. still lingers in the mind.