Second edition of ‘Music for Peace’ concert on January 18

It was the summer of 1977. Bahn Kruger, one of the earliest rock bands to be formed in Thiruvananthapuram, was performing at the VJT Hall. Half way through the set list, vocalist Nandakumar, known popularly as Nandu Leo, announced that they are going to perform a cover of the latest song by the British band ‘Genesis’.

The crowd went wild, for no one had heard any song from the much awaited new album. In the pre-Internet era, fans had to wait for years for the cassettes to cross the shores, tucked inside an NRI baggage.

“Everyone loved that track. After the concert, we told them the truth - that this song was not by Genesis, but one of our original tracks,” says Mr. Nandakumar.

That story perhaps illustrates how hard it was for the bands from that time, a striking contrast to the present when bands are releasing albums within two years of their formation and crowds are singing along these original tracks. Playing covers of popular songs has almost ceased, as every band strives towards creating a sound of their own.

Not-so-rocking scene

Nandu and his old gang of friends got together in January last year to relive the heady days of rock ‘n’ roll, with the ‘Music for Peace – All those years ago’ concert at the VJT Hall. The massive success of this show, led to another one in August, a tribute to the legendary Eric Clapton.

Now, they are returning with the second edition of the ‘Music for Peace’ concert, to be held at Co-bank Towers on January 18, at 6.30 p.m. This time, Nandu will lead a young crop of musicians — Sunil on guitars, Ben Sam on the bass, Ashwin on the keyboards, and Shibu behind the drums.

Nandu says that it has become tougher to organise rock gigs in the city, due to lack of venues and sponsors. “Every organiser wants either DJs or popular film music. We had less places to hang out, but more avenues to perform then,” he says.

Good old days

He reminisces of lazy afternoons at the Coffee House in Spencer, their official hangout then. “On some nights, we used to head to the Lighthouse beach in Kovalam on our Yezdis. We used to sit inside the shacks, with acoustic guitars, playing music till dawn. No curfews, no complaints. Now, everything shuts down by 10 p.m.,” he says.

Part of that gang was guitarist John Antony, known among Malayalis for the guitar solo in the song ‘Ponveene’ and known outside Kerala for his work with the band ‘Karnatrix’.

“We used to say that he could even play the scratches on the CDs. He was that good. We once performed all the five versions of Pink Floyd’s ‘Shine on you crazy diamond’ in a concert. Our lyricist was Ajith Pillai, a wordsmith who could churn out pages and pages of lyrics at short notice,” says Nandu.

The set list for the concert includes everything from Dire Straits to Grand Funk Rail Road. He hopes to attract more youngsters to classic rock with these annual concerts.