From Des’ treasure chest | Sunday Observer

From Des’ treasure chest

The first thing I remember
I was lying in my bed
I couldn’t have been no more
Than one or two
I remember there’s a radio
‘Coming’ from the door next door
And my mother laughed
The way some ladies do
When it’s late in the evening
And the music’s seeping through....

Paul Simon’s sizzler of a song that scored No.1 status globally was the ideal choice to open Desmond’s much awaited concert and kudos to him for choosing the song. It set the pace for the whole of the concert that was filled with selections that were upbeat including his famous Sri Lankan songs laced with the baila rhythm. True they were oft heard, but coming from Desmond with a backing band that relentlessly kept the rhythm fast without skipping a beat was remarkable.

Whatever opinions may be in the contrary, Desmond de Silva has with the passage of time cemented his reputation as a formidable artiste through exciting and emotionally satisfying live performances. And no doubt, judging from the happy applause, the whistles and ready singing participation, the audience was happy Desmond chose to celebrate his 75th birthday here in his motherland.

Having said that, if you were one of those who decided to give the concert a miss, then you lost a lot. However let me ease the pain in your heart by clueing you into his programme that Saturday evening. From Late in the Evening, Desmond followed it up with Old Time Rock ‘N Roll, My Girl, There’s Something About You Baby I Like, the songs from his hometown Matara and family, Danny Boy (with adjusted lyrics) Ma Podi Kaley and De Silva Dolos Denek.

It was at this juncture that Desmond brought on stage a contemporary of his with the then Jetliners - Ishan Bahar who gave life to Travelling Light and the unforgettable Blue Suede Shoes was joined by Desmond in the medley Walk Right Back / I’m So Lonesome.

The audience lapped up Desmond’s rendering of the Tower Hall Days’ songs and enthusiastically joined him in Yamang Bando which was the signal to announce the interval.

The second half of the concert was equally enjoyable. To celebrate Desmond’s 75th birthday, the producer Damayantha Kuruppu had a surprise 75-year cake all ready on stage for Desmond to cut and he switched into a fast paced La Bamba, Save the Last Dance For Me (with the newer arrangement) Jump, Sweet Caroline the cue to introduce Mariazelle and together they made Islands in the Stream a toe tapping, fast and slick song. Mariazelle in solo performance was her usual self her voice still the same and matured. She stayed on stage to sing one of her favourite Sinhala song, as well as, I’ll Go Where The Music Takes Me and was joined by Desmond for a sentimental Help Me Make It Through The Night.

Desmond veered the concert to its close with a large dose of the popular Sri Lankan songs with the catchy baila beat that has always been associated with him. The audience especially those in the balcony were in their elements singing along with him and accompanying him with the fascinating whistles that have a major attraction to the songs and characteristically brought the concert to a close with the now famous Sumihiri Paaney and rounded it off with Ennadi Rasamma. A word of praise to the backing band - they were spot on with the rhythms.

Desmond de Silva proved that he is still capable of delivering a mighty groove which is ageless like wine, getting better with time. No doubt it was a treat for the packed-to-capacity audience at the BMICH. It brought back so many memories for so many people and Desmond with no holds barred gave it its down-to-earth authenticity. Good luck for the future Desmond.