Another Tuesday night at the Blue Frog in the city of Mumbai, with yet another album launch, this time by Para Vayu called Soul Alive. Para Vayu’s sound ranges from psychedelic and classic rock, to jazz, funk and even Hindustani classical. With an experimental band with flamboyant taste, the evening was clearly set for a promising gig.
Para Vayu’s lineup comprises Ravi Iyer on guitar, Soumitra Bhat on lead vocals and Crosby Fernandes on bass along with accompanying musicians Lindsay D’Mello on the drums, Rhys D’Souza on the saxophone and Crehyl Pereira on keyboards. The gig started off at a rather slow pace and somehow didn’t catch on with the audience initially. The crowd was niche, with a select few who were swaying to the tunes of Para Vayu. Despite being an album launch gig, there was no introduction to any of the songs, which people would certainly be clueless about since these weren’t covers.
The upsurge towards something magnificent was certainly lacking that night. The only musician on stage gaining any attention was Rhys, with his marvelous saxophone solos that managed to seize the crowd to some extent.
Ravi Iyer, a guitar guru for almost twenty one years now, seemed as though he wasn’t entirely in the groove, and I could probably say the same about the lead vocalist Soumitra. Despite undoubtedly singing well, the lyrics were, for some reason, rather indecipherable and you’d probably have to strain your ears to pick up a word or two.
For a band launching their very first album, the performance was, putting it crudely, quite dreary. The stage presence of all the band members seemed almost as if they were saying, “Yes, we’re launching an album of our own, so what?” Frankly, Crehyl was in the backdrop. The audience almost forgot that there was a keyboardist on stage, who was holding on to a few chords here. There was no band interaction with the audience whatsoever, except for when Soumitra threw a few copies of the album into the crowd.
They started off with a song called, ‘Save My World’ which was rather monotonous towards the end, then moved onto ‘Broken Brother’, ‘Fallen Angels’ and ‘Last Goodbye’ of which none really managed to hold our attention. I munched on some fries and coke, discussing the acoustics and the sound system at The Blue Frog, which was quite praiseworthy.
What did generate some curiosity though was a girl called Shumisha Shankar dressed in an Indian outfit adorned with heavy makeup and jewelry, who danced on stage as Para Vayu played an instrumental called ‘This Is Us’. Her performance was rather appealing, and if nothing else, at least kept our eyes on stage. But yet again the pace was lacking, and in fact there was hardly any place for her to really dance, with all the instruments, cables and monitors, though Soumitra promptly moved off stage to make some space.
Next came another few songs and the one that gained the maximum hits was ‘Fall Right’ , which finally grabbed our attention. This was one of their better tracks, and definitely my favorite of the night. The next track was called ‘Affected’ and was followed by an instrumental piece for which they didn’t have a name. Soumitra announced that there would be a competition as to who would be able to name their instrumental track, and I must say, it was quite catchy. Ravi finally spoke during this time, and interacted for once with the audience!
They slowly wound it up by singing a track called ‘Flying’ and the last being ‘Seven Eleven’ which has been written by Ravi Iyer about the terror attacks; a song with meaning and a sense towards society and their downfall due to terrorism. The song sounded very subtle and distinct, which was the quite pleasing.
So at the end of the day, in my opinion, only two songs pass muster, with the rest sounding a little bit monotonous. The most disappointing aspect about the album launch and the evening was that there was no album being sold at the Blue Frog counter! The question is why would a band have an album launch without selling their CDs at the venue? By the end of it all, a rather disappointed crowd could be seen walking out of the doors of Blue Frog, empty-handed.