Tag Archives: Coming Back to Life
Sonic Flare at Hard Rock Cafe, Hyderabad
When you bring a bunch of working professionals, the love of rock music and great talent together a band like Sonic Flare is born. After many “beginnings” in 2002, the band was formed with Neeraj, Jongky, Ajit, Vinay and Martin as their first lineup. The current lineup of the band, however, is vox by Nikhil and Priyanka, Neeraj on the guitars, Jongky on the keys, Ajit on the bass and Vinay on the drums.
Sonic Flare decided to celebrate Republic day at Hard Rock Cafe, Hyderabad. An evening of good classic rock, their set list included a couple of their own compositions and covers of some of the all-time classic greats with vocalists, Priyanka and Nikhil taking the lead alternately.
They opened with a cover of Black Crowes’ ‘Hard to Handle’ that got people grooving. Tina Turner’s ‘Simply The Best’, Eric Clapton’s ‘I Shot the Sheriff’, and Jefferson Airplane’s ‘Need Somebody to Love’ were nostalgic for those who grew up to listening to them. The blend of both Priyanka’s and Nikhil’s voices was harmonious when they sang The Knacks’ ‘My Sharona’. Also, their covers of Pink Floyd’s ‘Coming Back to Life’ and Cranberries’ ‘Zombie’ were probably the best versions heard live in Hyderabad. The rest of covers included Dire Straits’ ‘Money for Nothing’, Queen’s ‘Under Pressure’, Van Halen’s ‘Jump’. And the finale – the all-time favourite Guns n Roses’ ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ got the crowd singing along.
Whereas ‘Take Me Away’, ‘Beautiful World’, ‘Stay’, ‘Dream On’, and ‘Me and You’ were their original compositions, which felt like they stepped out of the 80s. Their music is a light-hearted blend of rock, funk and blues. Every composition had its own essence and ‘Stay’ seemed to be the favorite among Sonic Flare fans.
Thanks to dry day the turnout was not great. This did not bring down the spirits of the band and those present, and turned out to be quite an enjoyable evening. The band interacted with the crowd and had great stage presence. Their energy was contagious. Though the sound had some tweaks here and there, it did not affect the performance.
There are only a few bands that play classic rock and blues, Sonic Flare being one of them. With the bluesy vocals of Priyanka, awesome ranges of Nikhil, the classic tones of Neeraj’s guitar, some crazy bass lines by Ajit, the old school tones that Jongky played on the keys and Vinay not skipping a beat on the drums, this band played to perfection. Each member of the band brought his and her own flavor to their music. Despite the small turnout, it was a wonderful evening of classic rock. Nobody really wanted the evening to end.
Boomarang and Soulmate at The BFlat Bar, Bangalore
I’d had a beautiful Saturday leading up to the Soulmate gig and I suspect it was because I’d had an evening at my current favorite venue for an all-time favorite band to look forward to. I wasn’t planning on making it for Boomarang but decided that it wouldn’t hurt to watch a band I hadn’t seen live yet. As I walked into the joint, there was already a sizable chunk of people screeching and grooving to the unmistakable sounds of bluesy rock; I’d just had my first taste of Boomarang.
Boomarang is a four-piece ensemble from Aizwal that has blues, folk, rock and electronic influences as well. Their bio is quite interesting, with performances at familiar places like the Hard Rock Café and performances alongside international and Indian bands alike. What I like about the band is the close-to-seamless transitions between genres.
A track that stood out for me was ‘Camouflage’ (quite similar to work by a band whose name begins with a ‘prod’ and ends with an ‘igy’); it’s choppy guitar and interesting blend of electronica had me from the get go. They did a few interesting covers as well – ‘Crossroads’, a blues anthem that is violated by covers at the drop of a hat (I think I hear someone trying an acoustic version of it this very minute as I lounge in my balcony at 2 a.m.), was a pleasurable listen. All in all, Boomarang was the perfect high-energy lead up to Soulmate.
When the band walked on stage at long last, the crowd was itching for them to start. With a special mention for their “brothers and sisters” from the north east, Rudy set the ball rolling with ‘Shillong’. Their take on a Khasi song ‘Sier Lapalang’ (they played an abridged version – cue sad smiley face) was exquisite. That’s their artistic prowess; making what is essentially a lament, a dirge, sound exquisite. I don’t know if it was a help or a hindrance, but at one point the song sounded like the Indian national anthem while at another it sounded like Pink Floyd’s ‘Coming Back to Life’.
Their set by had a few familiars from their older album. Tipriti powered through the vocals on ‘Do You‘, her mouth curling perfectly around the vengeful lyrics. They played a new song called ‘But to Have You‘ that got me with its (dare I say it) cutesy lyrics. A sample (forgive me if they’re slightly off):
The sun warms my feet in the morning,
the blanket covers them at night
But when you aren’t with me,
something just isn’t right.
Tipriti pulled out all the stops on this one. Her guttural vocals had the song resounding in my ears long after they stopped playing. Rudy took over to sing ‘Gangster of Love’ and we were lulled into ease by his voice after being thrown through a riot of emotions by Tipriti’s. Rudy continued his run, this time with slide, on the classic ‘Call it Stormy Monday (But Tuesdays are just as bad)’ by T-Bone Walker.
The band ran through most of their set (‘I just wanna make love to you’, ‘Don’t you come round my house again’, ‘Back in time’) without much ado. But just as Tipriti was singing the most emotional song of the set, a tall, ridiculously drunk, pony-tailed man weaved his way to the front, beer in hand. The audience had an additional show to watch thereafter – Soulmate vs Drunken ponytail dude. He proceeded to rip ornamental butterflies off Tipriti’s microphone stand while screeching”play”, blatantly ignoring his friends who were trying to get the situation under control.
What’s amazing is that the band didn’t miss one beat. They played through the commotion; Tipriti sang through the ruckus until he jostled the mike into her face. The song had tears streaming down her face, and as she opened her eyes and pointed angrily at the douche, she looked as close to a wrath-filled goddess as any mortal ever could! He didn’t seem too cowed by it though and a short while later, after his antics had people watching him more than the band, a few beefy audience members ‘removed’ him from scene. But the show was brought to an unceremonious halt only one song (‘Not Those Funkin’ Blues Again’) later.
What this gig reinforced is that Soulmate has a commanding presence in the Indian music scene for a very good reason. They’ve stayed as popular as they are because they’re a tight live band; their dual vocal punch – Rudy’s comforting, Tipriti’s feisty – is refreshing; and most of all, they’re extreme professionals. After first-hand experience from the gig at The BFlat Bar, I don’t doubt it one bit.
Breathe – The Sound of Floyd, at UB City Bangalore
Pink Floyd. The legends. The stories. The visions and the colors. The imagery and form. The words and The void. The mellow warmth and the choral highs. The dystopian landscape and the virtuosic inflection. Pink Floyd.
Who among us has never felt or experienced the Floydian point of view especially down in the city of rock (or pubs), Bengaluru! In case you thought there was nothing more, Breathe – The Sound of Floyd, decided their gig in Bangalore last year was worth revisiting, and hence the Floyd Tribute concert at UB city on Saturday 26th February was proclaimed! Now, I personally have been listening to Floyd even before I knew to shave, and have been privileged enough to have watched a Roger Waters Concert in Mumbai. So forgive me for looking down my high horse atop a pedestal.
We arrived at the luxuriant UB City parking lot at 6:30 that Saturday evening, made our way up top to the amphitheater arena and squeezed into the Q – which by now resembled a S, and we whiled away some time trading heavy concert stories, or at least whatever we could… umm recall. The entry into the venue was flanked by Ducati stalls, which seemed to gather all the incoming attention and passed it on to the adjacent stall stocking KF beer. The arena was simply amazing, the amphitheater sinks from the restaurant level into one corner of the UB City building offering the audience a spectacular view of the city and offering a nice contrast to the glass facade of nearby sky-rises. The ubiquitous floating pig was keeping watch above us while the makeshift ‘eye’ trussed at the rear of the performing stage, fitted with four moving-head projectors trying their best to throw out psychedelic-ness. Because we were late, we could only manage bad outlying seats on the semi circular seating area, which I estimate could seat 1300. People kept pouring in, and the adventurous ones would tip toe around to look for precious squatting space (Really? You’re holding a spot for three friends with that cap?)
The show kicked off eventually with Wolfpack playing some popular tunes. I could only recognise U2 but I swear the other tracks were popular too! The frontman Rajeev was holding on to the by-now 1500 strong crowd. My suspicions of the FOH system were slowly coming true. Probably not the best choice of speaker cabinets for the venue, but the sunken level of the stage directed the small stack to within the first six or seven rows only; with speech intelligibility dropping exponentially thereon. Most of Rajeev’s quips and gags were lost on us and the harmonic richness of the music output was clearly absent if you were standing on any one of the higher rows or even worse, saw the crowd below and decided to stay up near the advertising stalls.
I decided to run up for a beer and right then the boys got on stage and threw everyone into a frenzy. Standard tracks like ‘Another Brick in the Wall Pt 2′ were just the thing to warm up the crowd. The guys were super-talented and really, really tight on stage. Chris Barnes (vocals + guitar) displayed stellar singing, awesome chops on the occasional solo and was lively and chatty between songs. Peter Worley (bass + vocals) – No nonsense here, the man keeps the lines simple and the groove tight. Joel Anderson (keyboard) pulled off all the organ licks and spacey pads just like the late great Rick Wright. Andy Fenton (lead guitar+pedal steel) has put in his work in going for the Gilmour tone. Being the seasoned artiste he is, he most definitely has the feel and soul we all love in a good Floyd solo. Dave Gee (drums) – probably the most experienced in the band; had the style and the space; perfect flams and rolls – but was criminally made to play on a very poorly mic’ed drum kit.
After some initial buzz, they hit the ‘Dark Side of the Moon‘ albeit minus ‘Great Gig in the Sky’, obviously due to the scat vocal necessity. Next , (in my opinion the highlight of the evening) was a track you would never ever have heard a band cover live. A song that Pink Floyd originally spent 6 months working on and tentatively titled ‘Return of the Son of Nothing’, a song that would be a forerunner to the great DSOTM album. A track called ‘Echoes‘. Complete with immaculate vocal harmony , the ethereal undertones and that psychedelic instrumental spot with whining-squealing-guitar-whammy- sounds-spaceytrippy-madness dealt out copiously. ‘Sheep’ from the Animals album was next followed by ‘Sorrow’. TheÂ eye in the rear was faithfully reproducing some classic PF imagery and visuals blending lasers and color, crescendoing into some fireworks for the grandiose ‘Shine on You Crazy Diamond‘. The audience participation was absolute with the whole crowd joining in with the lyrics spot-on perfect. Tracks towards the fag end of the show ran through ‘Run run run’ and ‘Coming Back to Life’. The finale spots were reserved for the all important ‘Wish you were here’ and an encore with Rajeev for ‘Comfortably Numb’, with a thunderous guitar solo to drop curtains on the concert.
All in all, the show could have been managed a little better, with tighter security to keep jokers from running across the stage to grab a quick photograph with the guitarist after a terrific song. The sound was ill-suited to the venue and the desired sound effects typical of Pink Floyd music – so maybe a line array could have proved a better option. The lighting and lasers, did everything possible, but still ended up disappointing. Perhaps this was truly a tribute concert in these logistical aspects, but there’s no doubting or denying the fact that the band truly brought the heavens down on UB city and everyone who was there, experiencing a show that was worthy of the real thing.