The band brings alive some of their vintage compositions with fresh sounds and renewed energies
When a band changes its line-up, things are bound to change for better or worse. But when contemporary fusion band Indian Ocean brought in a fresh face to replace founding member Susmit Sen on the guitar, they got more than what they bargained for.
Nikhil Rao’s entry into the five-piece setup has notched the band’s musicality to an all-new level. Fans and music lovers got a taste of their newest sounds at The Hindu Friday Review’s November Fest in the city.
With his usual cheerful entry, bassist and vocalist Rahul Ram kicked off the concert with Nikhil on the guitar, lead vocalist Himanshu Joshi, Amit Kilam on drums, vocals, gabgubi, recorder and clarinet and Tuheen Chakravarty on tabla and percussion.
The lights dimmed, the bass guitar hummed and Nikhil’s plucking transported the audience into a meandering mystical journey with ‘From The Ruins’ from their first live album.
Himanshu’s pitch-perfect vocals echoed from the stage with haunting excellence as the piece unravelled the band’s latest sounds.
Introducing their next song ‘Jhini’, Rahul pointed out that ever since Nikhil joined them, they have been reworking on their old numbers and he has bringing his own signature to their songs.
This proved true in the symphonic harmonies they belted out on their instruments even as the crowd sang along ‘Jhini re Jhini…’ taken from one of poet Kabir’s works.
The musical journey then changed course to the present with the famous ‘Des Mera’ from the movie Peepli Live. Their tonality also changed course with lighter melodies and more vibrant riffs.
Their next song from the Indian Ocean documentary Leaving Home had the band opening up more and settling down to bring in some jazz-laced rhythms.
Even as the musicians had fun making the audience clap along to their riffs, the piece actually revealed how they have evolved to a maturity in their music like never before.
This was followed by ‘Nam Myo Ho,’ which reflects roughly on life’s choices and ‘After The War,’ which dwells on the Gujarat riots and is their only song with English lyrics laced with Punjabi and Sanskrit.
The legendary ‘Bandeh’ from the movie Black Friday was next in their list. With the hyped-up audience chorusing along to the revolutionary song, Indian Ocean rendered the explosive number with a fiery rage that ended in an epic finale of resonating harmonies.
Moving to calmer waters, they went on to perform ‘Bhor’ which Rahul introduces as the story of a bird that has a Sufi experience.
While the description was received with light-hearted humour, the music that followed brought into the auditorium a feel of nature and touched a depth of emotion that Indian Ocean has rarely ventured into.
Rahul’s constant arpeggiated chordwork mingled with lingering grooves from the percussions and clarinet accompanied by eclectic vocals had the audience holding their breath till the song climaxed in magical indie fusion.
‘Ma Rewa’ followed and brought out the best of the band’s control over their virtuosity even as they interacted with the audience while Amit led them in a collaborative sing-and-clap session with the amazing gabgubi.
The show ended with a fabulous rendition of ‘Kandisa’ that raged to a fevered pitch and displayed more of the band’s indie rock origins while they finished with a flourishing dive into a soul-stirring finale. For many in the audience, this was a night to remember.
November 15: Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia with Pt. Birju Maharaj & Kaushiki Chakrabarty
November 16: Indian Ocean
November 17: Vikku Vinayakaram, Vidya Shah & the Manganiyars
November 18: Mandolin Rajesh, Jayateerth Mevundi, Rakesh Chourasia & Trichur Brothers
November 19: Coco's Lunch
November 20: Monsorate Brothers
Venue: Music Academy
Time: 7.30 p.m.
All tickets can be purchased online at www.thehindu.com/frnf2013
Tickets will also be available at All Landmark Outlets: Apex Plaza, Nungambakkam, Spencers Plaza, Chennai Citi Center, Ampa Mall and at The Hindu Office
Helpline: +91 93806 64381
Reserved seats are available for Rs. 750 per seat. Those who wish to avail this facility must call 044-28575807.
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