Hariharan and Lesle Lewis rocked the audience as they traversed a wide gamut of sounds. It’s never too old to be rocking confirmed the Colonial Cousins at the November Fest.

They pranced, gyrated, hopped, hit the high notes, revelled in low notes, were witty and wacky, were flashy and full of energy...it's never too old to be rocking confirmed the Colonial Cousins on day five of The Hindu Friday Review November Fest.

And the audience, a merry mix of Gen Ex and Gen Next clapped to a blitzkrieg of beats, swung to searing guitar riffs and went into raptures over the melodic blowing of the flute. The long years have been kind to both Hariharan and Lesle Lewis — many of their hits are still in circulation and they continue to be extremely charged in a live setting.

The genre-bending concert saw the duo traversing through Carnatic swaraprastharas, Hindustani alaaps, lok sangeet, Jazz strains, Bebop, Blues, Club and Pop — a wide gamut of sounds.

The initial few numbers were archetypal Colonial Cousins — bits from Indian classical compositions blended with meaningful English lyrics (all penned by Lesle) or English songs embellished with laya patterns.

While the huge audience held its collective breaths over super-hits such as ‘Sa ni dha pa' and ‘Krishna nee begane baro', it was also extremely appreciative of Hariharan's full-throated thumri (‘Yaad piya ki aaye') and a ‘jazz'ed-up ghazal (‘Yeh aaine se akele mein gufatagu kya hai'). The singer glided smoothly through tonal variations and delicately brought out the swara (particularly of raag Megh) nuances.

Midway through the show, Lesle gave Hariharan “a big break” (he commented in a lighter vein) for some solo time during which he came up with his cult indi-pop numbers ‘Pal', ‘Haseena' and ‘Yaaron'. And the listeners cheered along taking him by surprise that Chennai music-lovers were so tuned in with Hindi tracks, from the late 1990s. “It's hard to get such a responsive audience that is open to all kinds of music — novel and conventional,” he said. No intermission, yet his voice didn't lose breath nor did his guitar chords fall flat. The live band behind the showmen too coalesced efficiently.

Since Hariharan and Lesle have performed these songs many times over, they could have moved away from their comfort zone and dug a little deeper into their repertoire. But that didn't take away from the excitement of their fans who remained seated till Krishna came along with Jesus and Allah with the message of peace and love in their chart-scorcher…‘Krishna nee begane baro’!


The Cousins court ChennaiNovember 15, 2010

The Cousins come calling November 11, 2010

Five nations meet in melodyOctober 28, 2010