It was an evening of nostalgia when Garry Lawyer paid tributes to titans of Western music

Evoking powerful images, good music moves people. With theirs, Gary Lawyer and his band pulled the audience out of their seats — at Sir Mutha Venkatasubba Rao Concert Hall last Saturday — and marched them to a lonely street where they checked into ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ (no points for guessing the genius behind this all-time great soppy song) and engineered a meeting with the unlettered guitar wizard Johnny B. Goode (neither for this one) at his makeshift home ‘among the evergreens, deep down in Lousiana’, and drove them to ask in a pleading tone “won’t you tell me your name?” (not for this one, either).

Led by the prospect of a nostalgic evening, Western music lovers had come for Gary Lawyer’s “Rewind. Pause. SAVE”, a tribute to Elvis Presley and The Doors (more specifically, Jim Morrison) and they were not disappointed. As a pleasant surprise, Lawyer improvised on the list, adding Frank Sinatra and Freddie Mercury to it.

After presenting ‘Now Or Never’ (Presley) a love song that suggests a sense of urgency and hints at the uncertainty of our tomorrows, Lawyer said, “Yesterday, I did not know if I’ll make it to the show. I was suspected of having either dengue or malaria.”

He was chatty throughout the concert and often paused to find out what the audience expected of him. After giving a string of Presley hits, he said, “We’ve time for only one more.” Almost every one cried, “We want ‘Are You Lonesome…’!”

“Yes, let’s do it,” said Lawyer and sang ‘Are You Lonesome Tonight?’ a song that Presley elevated to dizzy heights.

With the tribute to Presley done, Gary started a tour of Jim Morrison’s greatness with ‘Break On Through To The Other Side’. When the audience had savoured some of the sweetest sounds that have come from ‘The Doors’, Gary said, “Let’s go further in time. It’s time for a Frank Sinatra tribute.” The announcement was greeted with a roar of delight.

With ‘New York New York’, the concert began to evoke a different set of powerful images. Besides Sinatra’s voice, people over the decades have lost their hearts to this song for its positive message: making a brand-new start in a new place. Lawyer did well to start the last section of his concert with this feel-good song.

“Let us meet another friend of ours,” he said and began to sing ‘I Want To Break Free’ — which has served as an anthem for iconoclasts of various stripes — and paid a tribute to Freddie Mercury.

Lawyer finished the concert in a beautiful way, choosing a song that, he believes, describes much of him. “Despite offers, I did not fall for Bollywood. I stuck to Western music. I did it my way,” he said and launched into Frank Sinatra’s ‘My Way’.

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