The Idea Rocks India Concert featuring Bollywood musical trio Shankar Ehsaan Loy, like all shows involving high-profile performers, started well over an hour late. Further, to demonstrate ‘good things come only to those who wait’ the organisers brought on stand-up comedian ‘Badava Gopi’ as the opening act — for about twenty minutes. To his credit, despite the usual Tamil stand up fare he offered — imitating Rajinikanth and mimicking airplanes — Gopi did manage to engage the audience and won a good deal of laughter and applause. And, at last, when Shankar Ehsaan Loy took to the stage, they started the evening with a sloka, ‘Vakrathunda Mahakaaya’. Then Shankar Mahadevan launched into ‘Koi Kahe Kehta Rahe’ from Dil Chahta Hai the packed YMCA Grounds in Royapettah charged up almost instantly. Next came ‘Rock On’, and the song that went on to be the anthem of a whole new generation — ‘Dil Chahta Hai’. Shankar’s enviably pliant voice hit the high notes smoothly. He even managed to get all the women in the audience to dance for his rendition of ‘Pretty Woman’.
The winner of the Tamil Nadu leg of the Idea Rocks India Concert, Subinit Rath, then joined the trio on stage for the ‘Paint it Red’ song from Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. But what’s a Shankar Mahadevan concert in Chennai without a Tamil number? In fact, he sang three of them: ‘Varaaga Nadhikkarai Oram’ from Sangamam, ‘Uppu Karvuvaadu’ from Mudhalvan and later, Viswaroopam’s title song with Ehsaan’s guitar giving the song that extra zing. An unplugged session then began with songs like ‘Jaane Kyun Log Pyar Karte Hai’, ‘Tanhayee’ and ‘Bol Na Halke Halke’. Loy’s jazz-like interpretation of some of these songs was a charming addition while the audience was taken aback when one of the vocal backups, Rasika, took the centre stage and played the flute, not just for the songs but even for an impromptu classical session with Shankar reciting a few lines from a composition while she followed his fast, high notes on the flute. ‘Sandhana Thendralai’ from Kandukonden Kandukonden followed. By now the audience was restless for ‘Breathless’. With a promise of performing it later, the trio continued with ‘Salam-e-ishq’, ‘Kal Ho Na Ho’ and ‘Mitwa’. When Shankar finally sang ‘Breathless’, there was a chorus from the audience at the end for a repeat. And the singer obliged, managing what seemed nearly impossible — singing his early runaway hit single one more time. The artistes managed to keep the audience on its feet, encouraging them to sing while the ‘knowledgeable’ Chennai crowd kept its tag intact by singing the chorus, in tune for the penultimate number, ‘Saat Din’ from Rock On. The evening came to a close with a karaoke of sorts with the lyrics displayed in Tamil and English for the popular ‘Senorita’ from Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara.