An eclectic mix of music in Puducherry

A section of the audience at the concert.   | Photo Credit: T.Singaravelou

For someone who was one of the early birds on the city’s rock band circuit over five decades ago, M.P. Shivan must have agonised over excluding so many song favourites in the set-list for the concert that marked his golden jubilee as a professional musician.

The show with Shivan fronting as lead vocalist at the Gandhi Thidal on Saturday eventually stuck to the zeitgeist of the 1980s and 1990s, but still managed to pack an eclectic mix of songs from genres as diverse as country and pop, rock and reggae.

“Yes, I had to leave out a lot of fantastic music,” Shivan said. “But I had to choose songs which the fellow musicians were a little familiar with,” he said.

Once they took the stage, Shivan and his companions rolled back the years with renditions of Eric Clapton’s ‘Sweet Home Chicago’, ‘Imagine’ by John Lennon, ‘Satisfaction’ by The Rolling Stone, ‘Walking by Myself’, Gary Moore’s return to the blues after the Northern Irish guitarist’s phenomenal success in hard rock and jazz fusion genres, ‘Boot Scootin Boogie’ by the American country music duo Brooks & Dunn and ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’ by Queen.

‘Crocodile Rock’ by Elton John, ‘Don’t Be Afraid of The Dark’ by Robert Cray and ‘I Can See Clearly Now’ by Jimmy Cliff and Johnny B. Goode (the Peter Tosh version) offered variety, there was virtually a Bon Jovi section within the concert with the artists playing ‘Stand by Me’ (Jovi’s version of the Ben E. King original), ‘Bed of Roses’, ‘It's my life’ and ‘Who Says You Can’t Go Home’.

To boot, there was the ‘Summer of ‘69’, which incidentally was the song that launched Shivan’s career on the Lister House stage in Jipmer. And, as a nod to the weekend tourists who drifted to the beach-side venue, the group played ‘Yaaron’ (KK) and ‘Chinna Maamiye’.

The accompanying musicians on stage packed impressive quality too.

There was Gerry Wood on vocals (Australia), George Mery (lead guitar), Aristide Titus (drums) and Jean Max Mery (keyboard) from France, and Timmy Eliot on lead guitar, Maynard Grant (drums), Gerard Joseph (bass), Anish Chacko (keyboard) and Sudhin Prabhakar (second guitar) from Chennai.

Titus, George Mery and Jean Max Mery, who played keyboard for one of France’s biggest rock stars, Johnny Halliday, who died earlier this year, had come all the way from France to play at the concert.

Shivan’s sibling Reshmi also guested as drummer for the rendition of ‘Stand by Me’.

The drum programming was manned by Ratnam based here. If the camaraderie on the stage was palpable — what with Shivan prancing around playing air guitar or directing rhythmic shifts like a orchestra conductor with an imagined baton — the delicate dynamic of musician and empathetic spouse came to the fore when Cheryl-Ann briefly played the emcee before the start of the show.

“Life with a musician is no ‘Stairway to Heaven’”, she quipped at the man of the moment.

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Printable version | Apr 17, 2021 3:14:39 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/an-eclectic-mix-of-music-in-puducherry/article28840120.ece

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