A.R. RAHMAN GREATEST HITS LIVE at THE O2 LONDON – REVIEW
London were in for a treat on Saturday August 15th when the musical maestro himself A.R. Rahman came to The O2 to perform his greatest hits live. It’s been five years since the award winning artist last graced the stage here, so there was no doubt that A.R.Rahman with his talented team of singers and musicians, would be performing to a packed stadium full of admiring fans.
A.R. Rahman, the son of a film score composer is a multi award winning singer/song-writer, composer, producer, musician, humanitarian and philanthropist, who is best known for mixing musical styles and working on movies from varying languages. Expectations were naturally high when you know you are here to see such a talented man who has created music for the Indian film industry for over two decades.
As soon as the lights in the arena were dimmed, a short introduction showing the successful career of the musical genius were shown on the screens. The anticipating audience applauded and cheered loudly as soon as A.R. Rahman stepped onto stage. Singing with him were Neeti Mohan, Javed Ali, Jonita Gandhi, Haricharan, Karthik, Hriday Gattani, Shashaa Tirupati, Annette Philipp and several extremely talented musicians and dancers.
Opening the event was ‘Maula Mere Maula’ from Delhi 6. Many songs were sung in a mixture of both Hindi and Tamil. We heard the hit songs from movies including Roja, Swades, Bombay, Jodhaa Akbar, Rangeela, Dil Se and Highway. A.R. Rahman also sang a beautiful selection of Sufi songs including ‘Kun Faya Kun’ from Rockstar and ‘Khwaja Mere Khwaja’ from Jodhaa Akbar.
There was a slight technical glitch when AR was trying out a new gadget, using his laptop and hand gestures to create sounds to imitate that of a rural village. It didn’t matter though as he quickly jumped onto the piano and sang songs that weren’t in the schedule much to the audiences delight, including ‘Mahi Ve’ from Highway.
I was most impressed by the singing talents of Neeti Mohan who’s performances included the classic ‘Rangeela Re’ and ‘Jiya Re’ from Jab Tak Hai Jaan. Neeti has a beautiful powerful voice with great stage presence. Bass player Mohini Dey was amazing, even more so considering the talented young lady is still a teenager. Naveen Kumar played the flute beautifully throughout the night and has been involved in music with A.R. Rahman for over thirty years. Song languages kept changing as did musical styles include rock, reggae, rap and jazz, which kept things interesting and there was something for everyone.
Having created music for over 100 films, how does one decide which songs to choose for his greatest hits? My only disappointment along with that of many others at the arena, was not hearing the well known and loved ‘Chaiyya Chaiyya’ from Dil Se until the very end during the encore, along with ‘Jai Ho’ from oscar winning Slumdog Millionaire, which everyone naturally expected to hear in their full glory. Hopefully we won’t have to wait another five years for A.R. Rahman to perform in the UK again and I’m sure there will be many more memorable hit songs by then. The Greatest Hits Live was a wonderful concert. I admire and respect the many talents of A.R. Rahman who has a natural knack of not only bringing various musical styles together but bringing so many cultures together too.