On September 18, Sayash Kumar beamed himself down to Pondy from Chennai to watch TAAQ in concert at Seagull, that balmy little cafe by the beach. Here’s his review of the gig:
Once upon a time, in a concert far far away, a desperate voice cut its way through the crowd… craving, needing and demanding Metallica or some music like that with the gain turned way up. And then the 3-piece band on stage, looking cool behind their shades, beards and hats and shiny guitars connected to seriously sweet amps played such mind-numbingly awesome music that people just shut up and listened. Who knows, maybe they even went back, voted and started to work to rid their country of corruption. But then again, that place was Pondicherry and it’s likely that everyone just got very happily drunk and passed out at the beach.
Now, ever since I heard the extended intro in Jupiter Cafe, I’ve always been rather fond of their unique sound and song-writing. I happened to watch them live during the Jaago Re tour (March 2009) and I knew I just had to see them play many many more times after. So then I began the exercise of waiting for dates and venues to match schedules and convenience and if you’re from Chennai, you’ll agree that the best places in Chennai is actually, Pondicherry. No kidding. And if you’re a Chennai fanatic, one visit to Seagull could change that. It was a really nice venue for the concert – an open air restaurant right next to the beach where you could just sit back on the grass and experience a very high degree of peace.
I reached Pondicherry a bit late, missing the first ten minutes, and apparently I missed a lot of rock and roll moments… drunk people in shiny shirts trying to take over the stage and what not! But that enthusiasm-dampener notwithstanding, TAAQ slowly built their energy levels and tightness over the next couple of songs, particularly around Between the Lines. The skill and proficiency of this band clearly stands out with their songs sounding practically indistinguishable from the studio versions! It’s quite something to see Bruce hum his solos AND play them note to note! Not an easy feat, but it sounds terrific. However, VERY demoralising for anyone who has plans of playing a guitar. Unfair Bruce. Plain unfair. The ‘baby’(!) of the group, Prakash, has brought in a bit of a new sound to TAAQ, and it was great to see the band at ease with their new bassist – his extended solos flowing right back into the songs on every occasion. Just one doubt though… Can he see anything from behind his hat?
The sound though wasn’t top notch, there was some static and some jarring. I really wish that wasn’t the case as it lessened from their typically perfect patches and tones.
The crowd though didn’t take much notice of that and really got into the groove around the song Drunk, probably as it reflected their state at that moment. With the audience and TAAQ’s energy levels rising, Paper Puli was timed to perfection. In fact, Rajeev was throwing away his drum sticks in a fit of drum-rage too! You can’t deny it, that song is rather sticky. At the risk of making a very bad pun based on a common tea ad… Wah TAAQ Wah… The wah of that guitar!
Now I’m not sure about one thing, but there was this shockingly original rendition of Hey Jude! I swear you haven’t heard anything like that before and The Beatles would have been proud to see a 3-piece band from Bangalore pull that off! I hunted on their website but couldn’t find a studio version of that, but I hope that changes soon and a few more ‘original covers’ follow. And no, its not an oxymoron with TAAQ.
It’s a pity that to see the end of their shows, but the evening did come to an end amidst many shouts for an encore performance! Nonetheless, great music at a great place. Hoping to catch another show again soon. Though I often wonder… with all the other worldly skill that they possess, how would they sound in a completely acoustic setting, a fusion-ified and Carnatic-ified version or one with an all out backing orchestra and what not? Damn. Need more TAAQ!