A.R. Rahman brought his Intimate Concert Tour to Los Angeles on June 10 with an energetic, audience-pleasing performance at the newly redubbed Microsoft Theater downtown.
The audience of mostly South Asians had plenty to be happy about with a greatest hits program that included Tamil and Hindi versions of several songs from “Chinna chinna aasai/Choti si asha” to “Uyire/Dil se.” The newer numbers included songs from this year’s “O kadhal kanmani” and 2014’s “The 100-Foot Journey.”
The evening started with an Urdu devotional number, “Maula mere maula,” which along with “If I Rise” (“127 Hours”) and a Punjabi song were among the few exceptions to Hindi and Tamil tunes that made up the bulk of the program.
Doing the bulk of the singing was a bubbly Jonita Gandhi who dueted with Rahman, as well as Haricharan and Sriram. Anneta Phillip, clad in a red Kancheevaram silk saree, joined a dark glasses-wearing Rahman for a jazz number in perfect scat-singing. Three keyboardists, including Rahman and Phillip, two drummers, a violinist, guitarist and a flautist rounded out the group. At one point Rahman switched from the piano he was playing to an accordion.
For many of the songs a solo dancer performed behind the musicians.
With the exception of a 2011 Hollywood Bowl concert when he performed chamber music, Rahman can be counted on for a fun evening and there were plenty of calls for favorite songs from the audience plus shouts of “I love you” to which he replied, “I love you too.”
Rahman and his drummer also tried out a new device that played like a Wii instrument. The two musicians wore bands on their hands and as they flicked their wrists the laptop below played drums and other instruments. “Musicians love new gadgets,” Rahman said.
The musicians got a chance at solos including competition-like sets called “jugalbandhi.” And the audience, many of whom were on their feet dancing, joined in the chorus for a number of songs such as “Chaiyya chaiyya,” which was among a medley of tunes that rounded off the evening along with “Maa tujhe salaam” and, of course, “Jai Ho,” which earned him an Oscar for “Slumdog Millionaire.”
The North American tour, which ran for almost 2½ hours, continues to San Jose, Vancouver and Redmond, Wash.