Khamis, 2 Januari 2014

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Music

Classics from Illaiyaraaja

Posted: 01 Jan 2014 08:00 AM PST

Illaiyaraaja may not have been present in person, but his musicians and singers did a fine job of bringing his music to life.

IT is not for nothing that Illaiyaraaja is hailed as a living legend and one of the finest film music composers in India; so many of his songs have gone on to capture a place in the audience's hearts, even years after they were first released.

For proof of this, one need look no further than the recently-held King of Kings Maestro Illaiyaraaja Live In KL 2013 concert – just the opening strains of a song was enough to elicit excitement from most of the 17,000-strong crowd, as they instantly recognised the maestro's evergreen hits.

Of course, there was a definite sense of disappointment in the air, as Illaiyaraaja had cancelled his appearance at the eleventh hour after suffering a mild heart attack last week. His three children, however – composers Karthik Raja and Yuvan Shankar Raja, and singer Bhavatharini – were determined to honour their father's music by going ahead with the concert and giving his fans a night to remember.

Haricharan was on song for the night, ably hitting all the notes of Illaiyaraaja's hits.Singer Haricharan performing at the King of Kings Maestro Illaiyaraaja Live in KL 2013 concert at Merdeka Stadium on Dec 28 night.

Haricharan was on song for the night, ably hitting all the notes of Illaiyaraaja's hits.

Karthik even broke down in tears briefly while talking about the difficult time his family was going through since his father's admission to hospital, and how the legendary composer had, till the very last moment, been determined to make it to the Kuala Lumpur concert.

The concert kicked off on a touching note, with Illaiyaraaja performing his classic song Janani Janani via a live video feed from Chennai, India, which his fans responded to with thunderous applause. After Illaiyaraaja assured the concert-goers that despite his absence, his thoughts were still with them, the show went on with a hugely varied selection of songs from his 35-year career.

Breathing life into the fantastic compositions were a group of talented Indian singers – a mix of veterans like S.P. Balasubrah -manyam (SPB), Mano and Chithra, and upstarts Haricharan, Krish, Rita and Shalini.

It was a pleasure to hear Illaiyaraaja's classics performed to perfection by these vocalists. Mano and Chithra, for instance, did an excellent job on O Priya Priya, with the former bringing his usual gusto to the songs he is renowned for, such as Shenbagame.

The newer singers, meanwhile, more than did justice to the numbers previously sung by some of Tamil cinema's renowned singers. Among the standouts were Haricharan and Haritha, with Nila Kayuthu and Vetti Veru Vaasam by Shalini.

Acclaimed Indian vocalist S.P. Balasubrahmanyam (left) and composer Illaiyaraaja's daughter Bhavatharini performed were a great combination.

Acclaimed Indian vocalist S.P. Balasubrahmanyam and Illaiyaraaja's daughter, Bhavatharini, made a great
combination on stage. 

The real highlight of the night, however, was definitely the opportunity to watch vocal giant SPB, an old friend and long-time collaborator of Illaiyaraaja's, perform the songs that have become synonymous with the duo.

His performance of the romantic Yenna Satham Intha Neram was pitch perfect, while the more playful numbers like Vanitha Vani (with Rita) and Vaa Vaa Pakkam Vaa (with Shalini) were absolutely delightful.

Also deserving of kudos was the excellent 70-member orchestra that flew in from India. With many of the musicians being part of Illaiyaraaja's regular team, his music was performed with the emotion and energy it deserved.

What let the show down somewhat was its pacing. At almost five hours in length, it would have been a delight if it had been packed solid with Illaiyaraaja's songs, since there were so many to choose from. Instead, a lot of the show was dedicated to speeches and video tributes that dragged on for a bit too long. With most of the faster, catchier songs reserved for the later half of the show, many audience members had left by the time the show picked up pace.

Nevertheless, the show ended on a high note, after a non-stop barrage of infectious numbers that had many audience members on their feet or clapping. This included an enthusiastic rendition of Pothuvaga En Manasu Thangam by Yugendran and Vechalum Vekkame by Krish and Rita.

Walking out of the concert, one couldn't help but be impressed by the sheer diversity of Illaiyaraaja's music, and reminisce the many songs of his that have captured enduring places in Indian film history. Truly, no concert can ever fully capture the magic of his music, but any opportunity to listen to it live is surely not to be missed.

Avril Lavigne returns to KL for March gig

Posted: 30 Dec 2013 05:05 PM PST

It's her third visit to Malaysia. 

CANADIAN pop punk princess Avril Lavigne is set to bring her tour to Kuala Lumpur. Come March 14, 2014, Lavigne will perform a concert at Stadium Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur.

The singer will be promoting her latest self-titled album which features hit singles Let Me Go and Here's To Never Growing Up.

For those keeping track, this is Lavigne's third visit to Malaysia. She made her debut performance here in 2008, followed by another concert in 2012. Both concerts was attended by over 25,000 fans. Lavigne broke into the music scene as a 17-year-old with the release of her debut album Let Go in 2002. The album spawned some of Lavigne's signature hits like Complicated, Sk8er Boi and I'm With You. The singer was also notable for her tomboyish skater image. Now 29, Lavigne has stayed true to her unique persona.

"I think it's always kind of been like that. Like when I came out everyone was bearing their midriff. I don't know, people can dress the way they want to dress, I dress how I want to dress," she said in a recent interview.

Since Let Go, the singer has released three other albums and sold over 30 million copies worldwide. For her latest album, Lavigne collaborated with husband, Nickelback vocalist Chad Kroeger, and shock rocker Marilyn Manson. Tickets for Avril Lavigne Live in Kuala Lumpur 2014 are priced at RM88, RM168, RM358, RM388 and RM488. Call 03-8775 4666 for the ticketing hotline or log on to


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