On Sunday 18th September, The Median Man had the pleasure of venturing down to The MAC in Birmingham to watch the Shillong Chamber Choir perform.
Founded in 2001 by Neil Nongkynrih, the choir covers multiple genres and is famous for winning the reality TV show India’s Got Talent in 2010 and for performing with Indian Actor Amitabh Bachchan.
The Choir started strong, opening up with a whammy that got the crowd moving quite excitedly. As the hum started to settle, there was a brilliant piece of musicianship as the Choir effortlessly moved into the Assam State Anthem. The entire crowd got to their feet and sang the words alongside the Choir, prompting smiles from the Choir.
From there, the Choir moved into some new territory. Performing a Bollywood classic ‘Paheli,’ mixed with ‘Stand By Me,’ with the rhythm of the former turning the latter into something the audience could move their feet to. This sort of mixing continued as we were treated to slew of Abba classics in ‘Dancing Queen,’ and ‘Voulez Vouz,’ the latter of which when combined with that old Hindi classic ‘Disco Deewani,’ made the crowd move and cheer.
Then came some intriguing song choices. There was a mix with ‘Hawayein,’ and ‘Girls Like You,’ which for this reviewer was perhaps the best mix of the night. The audience was really starting to feel themselves at that point, and the audience participation was in full flow for when the classics of Kishore Kumar and Queen were unveiled. Further enhanced when the mix of ‘Hey Jude’ and ‘Tere Bina’ started, and the crowd sang full throatededly. There was also the nod to newer Bollywood classics such as ‘Senorita’ and a mix of Ustad Zakir Hussein, and more.
Finally, the finale appeared. As they got the crowd to sing along with them, the chills ran up my arm, dear reader. ‘Vande Mataram,’ a song that once inspired a movement for freedom, a song that has never and will never grow old. To hear it sung with pride and gusto was something inspiring. The applause that greeted the Choir as they bowed and finished is something that I think very few performers get to experience knowing that they have truly earned that applause.
I will admit to not knowing what to expect when I came to the MAC to see the choir perform, but I came away impressed and as a fan. The way they effortlessly blended not only Hindi, Khasi and Assamese songs together with Westerns songs, but the sheer energy that they emitted and that was transmitted back to them, was something else entirely.
I have seen many concerts, I have reviewed many of them, but the only other concert I have come away from feeling inspired from was Metallica. And I think that is the highest praise I can give. The Choir captured my attention and my imagination and now even a week later, they still hold it.
If you get the chance to see them, do so.
You will not regret it!