Tag Archives: Wish you were here

Blend No. 3220 at Cafe 1730, Pune


On the Holi/Women’s day weekend, I decided to catch up with a couple of old friends at Koregaon Park and watch Blend No.3220 live at Café 1730 Beans & Booze last Friday. It happened to be an important gig for this newish blues band, which was welcoming its new lead guitarist Pratyush Pillai and bidding farewell to its faithful bassist Sajib Biswas. Named after a blend of Old Monk rum, Blend no 3220 plays blues rock with provocative lyrics, repetitive chords and the idea of reaching out to people rather than chasing commercial success.

Quite appropriately, Blend’s first song ‘Mean Trouble Woman’ was about members of the band who have come and gone. Losing band members can be hard, especially if you’ve been jamming for some time and realize you’re good at it. Earlier this year, Sandro Sadhukhan left Blend No 3220 to fulfill other music dreams. The backbone of the band was his partnership with lead singer, Arnob Chouduri. Tonight’s tragedy was Sajib Biswas, their bassist, returning to his homeland – Bangladesh.

Attrition forced the band to look out for fresh talent and through Biswas’ contacts they were able to procure the Best Guitarist of MTV Rock On fame – Pratyush Pillai. This shy 25-year-old is not only technically precise but also immensely humble after his desi-fusion band, Khilaugh finished second at MTV’s rock music reality show. Nicknamed Shredman because of his metal/hard rock influence, Pratyush is evidently still learning to complement Blend’s passionate Bengali blues soul. As a recent addition, he has been practicing with the band for just a week and you can tell that the blend is not as perfect as it should be. When Arnob went “Pradyush, baby you know how you make those dirty sounds on the guitar,” he seemed to think it was probably part of the lyrics and there was no response from Shredman.

The well-dressed drummer, Sumair Zubairy, sported a black studded jacket and proudly held his Mohawk high, as local blues legend David Mancy took over for a guest performance. Somehow his demeanour and showmanship made him slightly unapproachable and I only attempted a handshake at the end of the show, as I was told he’s the reason the band doesn’t require an agent or a recording label.

Continuing with their soft rock intro, the band played ‘Somebody Else, a warning to any lover in a mediocre relationship. Next up was ‘Highway’. Introduced as “deep and pervasive”, this one was about getting high – “one of the greatest feelings in the world”. Some audience members smiled and whistled in recognition while others left in search of the metaphoric highway.

Then came the soulful ‘I’m coming to get you’ which was based on Arnob’s experiences while working at a forensics lab. “I felt like a rat hiding in your house,” he commented when asked about the back story. Forth on the list was the explicit ‘Down Rite Dirty, talking about things that are otherwise taboo. ‘Crying Still’ was about a 45-year-old insomniac who was so frustrated with life that he took his shotgun and killed his entire family. Lucky number six was ‘Beeswax’ a standard folk song from Mississippi – a typically fun-to-perform 1800s song. The thing about blues is that it’s familiar. Even if you’ve never heard these particular songs before, you can relate to them. Especially if you’ve listened to enough old rock music, everything begins sounding like home.

The European themed Cafe 1730, I’m told, is more of an after party place. It’s just above Kivas and earns its patronage from the fact that it’s open till 4 a.m. It has nude paintings on the ceiling above the 40-inch screen and Bose speakers worth 2 lakhs. They didn’t have a sound engineer that evening, just someone to help set up the equipment and then the band members were left to “do their thing”. No one in the audience would have guessed that the piano was never meant to be incorporated into the gig. The way Arnob used the instrument after the intermission, felt as if he was familiar with it and had planned it that way. But I talked to him later and found that it was done on the fly.

Throughout the random jam-based set list, Arnob handled the harmonica with ease earning him the nickname “Blowman”. “Other people tune their instruments, I blow”, he joked. It’s this type of explicit references that got the crowd going and encouraged the band to perform old favourites. Arnob is a passionate writer but prefers to have sloppy jam sessions on stage rather than covering other musicians. This time, though, they did three covers and a few blues standards just to keep things going. Chuck Berry’s ‘Johnny B. Goode’ and Muddy Waters’ ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’ gave the night a much needed upbeat familiarity, which was missing from Blend’s own compositions.

The audience consisted of friends and fans from the music community. Much to my amusement, someone with a Lamb of God t-shirt sat in a corner nodding away to the blues. At our table, a friend nursed his Vodka as a garrulous flirt charmed a pretty girl. I guess one could blame the sad turn out on the fact that most Pune people were at  Blackstratblues / Warren Mendonsa’s gig at High Spirits and given a chance this band would have been there as well. Arnob dreams that one day it’ll be possible to gather a few music enthusiasts and roam the city from one gig to another with just a guitar for company. This gig, however, ended with a tribute to Sandro Sadhukhan, their ex-vocalist and guitarist. Pink Floyd’s ‘Shine On you Crazy Diamond’ , with a little bit of ‘Wish you were here’ thrown in for effect, was a perfect fit for the end of the evening.

It’s not surprising that most of the audience stayed back to chill with the band over crappy cocktails (stay away for the ginger wine and never waste your money on ‘Chocolate Dream’) and wholesome dinner (Bolognese Spaghetti was a hit!) I got to talk to the band in the everlong intermission (why bother about time when things aren’t shutting down at 10.30?) and they shared their experience with the music scene. Newcomer Pratyush seemed to feel that Indian musicians can’t afford to make their passion a full-time occupation. He is the proud owner of a Gibson Les Paul Studio Edition (Ebony) thanks to MTV Rock On. “Even though we didn’t win, the show helped me pursue music as a hobby”, he says “Indian bands don’t get to perform like this unless they’re well connected.”

Personally, I hope Pratyush can dedicate more time to Blend no 3220. Especially because I’ve seen Biswas, Arnob and Sandro jam together and I know how tight their music is. In impromptu music that depends, almost solely, on the partnership between the vocalist and guitarist, you can’t afford to have anyone who is too passionate about his or her musical instrument. Here’s hoping that Pratyush will break out of his metal/rock mould that was created around his MTV Rock On fame and blend into the current blues rock scene.

Blend’s frontrunner, Arnob had a different opinion about the band’s future. “It’s not that difficult to market a band. We get mall and restaurant gigs quite easily but they expect us to be human jukeboxes and play commercial hits.” said Arnob. “We might record a live album”, he adds “But we’re against commercializing our music because that spoils a musician’s way of thinking.”

This was Sajib Biswas’ final performance as Blend No 3220’s bass player. “His forte was ‘thinking music’. He loved to experiment and learn from everyone around him,” said Arnob, who was sad to see another familiar face disappear. But they’ve wasted no time in finding a replacement. Another MTV Rock On participant, Keshav Iyengar, will be joining Blend’s line up. Along with all their fans, I’m looking forward to see how this new chapter of Blend No 3220 turns out. From the looks of it Blues abhi baaki hai!

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Parnika Reys Gamat

Parnika believes every song is a living person in an alternate universe she'd like to visit someday. You'll hardly ever see her without her headphones. Her other interests include travel, photography and poetry.


Phoenix at Hard Rock Cafe, Bangalore


This review isn’t going to be a long drawn out affair because, frankly, I’m not a fan of prolonging the agony. The Phoenix gig at HRC Bangalore, showed promise because they followed Thursday night acts that have been in more than a few good books. In the current musical atmosphere – the Indian music scene blossoming as it is with bands attempting to re-invent themselves with each album, it’s difficult to appreciate or even stomach the thought of a band sustaining itself with a cover-oriented approach. But there’s a silver lining to everything, I assume.

Phoenix at Hard Rock Cafe, Bangalore

Phoenix is a crew of five – singer Ruben, bassist Lokhi, percussionist Badri, guitarist Keith and Ankita who sings and plays the keys.

The band started out with a few Marley numbers (‘Redemption Song’ being the most notable performance). Ruben’s reedy vocals suit the dreadlocked artist’s music in specific. But no one can pull off Marley like Marley; with the second song, I was looking for a change. Welcome or not, it came in the form of The Police’s ‘Roxanne’ – an average performance that served more as a gentle reminder of the song than a powerful rendition. The only cover that I appreciated for its unique quality was their mash up of ‘Zombie’ and ‘Numb’; though it had its weak moments with the harmonies being frightfully off. YouTubing led me to a similar arrangement here. Phoenix’s version was definitely better than this. Bill Withers’ classic ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ was shaky in places. But they pulled it off with a quirky air to it. You could tell they’re better with the endearingly lazy styling of a reggae band than classic rock.

The band thereafter went through a riot of songs and artists, including Marley’s ‘Is This Love’, Pink Floyd’s ‘Wish You Were Here’, Guns n’ Roses, ‘Use Somebody’ by the Kings of Leon, Adele’s supremely popular ‘Rolling in the Deep’, ZZ Top’s ‘La Range’, Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Purple Haze’, The Doors and even a very low rendition of AC/DC and Ozzy.

Phoenix at Hard Rock Cafe, Bangalore

I know I run the risk of sounding too close to an American Idol judge for comfort after this statement, but song choice was a huge issue; it seems to have been based more on the popularity of the song than the actual capability of the vocalists. Ankita’s voice has a beautiful tone to it but it’s not enough of a powerhouse to carry off Adele without glaring flaws and coming off as more Karaoke than Cover. Slowing the song down, adding an out-of-way instrument or doing a reggae version would’ve taken the pressure of Ankita to perform as well as the original artist.

Phoenix at Hard Rock Cafe, Bangalore

Guitarist Keith shone throughout the performance. He whipped out a mean looking guitar just before the cover of Ozzy’s ‘Crazy Train’ and had the audience in a tizzy with his skill thereafter. Drummer Badri, hidden in the far corner of the raised stage, went about his business holding it together with as little ado as possible as did bassist Lokhi – whose dry sense of humour came across when he admitted to being “the old guy”.

All in all, I wasn’t too impressed with the band. It’s a tough business; however talented you are individually, you need to work creativity into your arrangements as a band to stand out from the crowd.

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Sharanya Nair

Sharanya is a 'writer' and an 'editor'. You know the type. She loves her music too much to share.


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’. The  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.

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Fidel Dsouza

Fidel Dsouza is a Journalist/Editor at WTS