The Malaysian Independent Live Fusion Festival 2018 (MILFF) by Mojo Projects was the climax that we were all waiting for – and it was absolutely worth the wait.
MILFF 2018 featured a cocktail of renowned local and international musicians in a non-stop, head-banging, six-hour concert. The concert opened with the iconic local label, #PU4LYF, followed by Pooja V, Sathyaprakash, Rajhesh Vaidhya, Sasi the Don, a surprise cameo by Anuradha Sriram, on to Sean Roldan and friends, and eventually the two headliners – Andrea Jeremiah and Benny Dayal.
With a line-up like that, it was bound to be a memorable night – and here are seven of my memorable moments and performances from the night:
1. PU4LYF – which I missed
Yes I did, and this is going to scar me forever. I grossly misread the traffic situation and arrived precisely at 5.30 pm – when PU4LYF’s set ended. I can’t tell you how angry I was at myself as I was looking forward to this performance since May. I even memorised all the lyrics to ‘Vai-lapalam’ and ‘Saage Poren’ so I could sing along at the concert. I did not only miss those two performances, I also missed Santhesh’s ‘Amalina’, which I heard he performed.
Anyway, according to my friends who did make it on time, PU4LYF was on fire the entire 30 minutes of their set. Their performance was upbeat, entertaining, and full of energy. They ended on a high with their iconic ‘Vai-lapalam’, which I was obviously not lucky enough to witness. Does anyone have a time-machine I can borrow?
*brb crying in a corner*
2. Rajhesh Vaidhya strumming the veenai with one hand
I was terribly inconsolable that I missed the first performance, but Rajhesh Vaidhya’s beautiful veenai music managed to calm me down. I was honestly a bit skeptical that a 30-minute veenai set could keep people engaged – and boy I was wrong! Rajhesh Vaidhya playing the veenai felt like a rock concert. He didn’t say much, but his energy traveled through the veenai and got the crowd riled up the whole time. At one point, he even strummed the veenai with one hand, making it look absolutely effortless and super stylo – and I’m pretty sure everyone’s jaw just dropped.
Towards the end, he even lifted the entire veenai with one hand – much like how a musician will lift his guitar at the end of a rock concert – and everyone sprung from their seats to give him a standing ovation he deserved!
3. Anuradha Sriram’s surprise appearance
After Rajhesh Vaidhya’s performance, Sasi The Don toned things down a bit with his chill reggae music. Flanked by Saran Narayan who co-wrote the former’s new single ABCD, the two entertained the crowd with some of Sasi’s classics – until they unveiled a surprise. The legendary Anuradha Sriram made a surprise appearance at the MILFF 2018 to help Sasi debut his new single. That’s right, Sasi the Don dropped his new song, “ABCD”, which is a duet with Anuradha – and that performance really hyped up the crowd.
However, due to the chill nature of Sasi’s music, I think his set would have served better as an opening act.
4. Sean Roldan’s video bytes in between songs
This was Sean Roldan’s first time in Malaysia – and he sure did make quite an impression! First of all, his band was super-awesome, but more on that later. Sean came across as a bit shy, but he’s charming and witty as hell. In between his performances, instead of him talking to the crowd, he has prepared video bytes of himself engaging with the crowd and introducing the next song. How cool is that? The lighting design was also particularly impressive during Sean’s set.
Sean also shared some anecdotes about his marriage and his wife – all of which sent the crowd into bursts of laughter and applause. Definitely hoping he’ll come back to Malaysia for a full-fledged concert!
5. Nikhil Ram & Aalaap Raju coming back for a second time
When Sean Roldan’s band took the stage, everyone immediately noticed two familiar faces, Aalaap Raju and Nikhil Ram.
Aaalaap Raju was down earlier this year from Madras: An 80s Musical, in which he stole many hearts with his witty banter, his bass skills and his soothing voice. Nikhil was down a couple of months back for Retro Rahman: A Musical – and inevitably became a crowd favorite with his flute prowess. So much so that you can just say Nikhil-on-the-flute and everyone would know who you’re referring to. Both Nikhil and Aalaap did a fantastic job complementing the amazingly talented Sean Roldan on stage – and it was one of my favorite sets of the night.
After the set ended, hosts Pritha and Aanantha asked Nikhil to play a tune that he would use to impress a girl – and he serenaded the already screaming crowd with a beautiful rendition of ‘Ennavale’ on his flute. Pretty sure all the girls went weak on the knees!
6. Andrea Jeremiah – THE QUEEN!
This woman knows how to handle a massive crowd in a massive venue! The entire arena burst into applause when Andrea took the stage, and she made sure the energy never waned. Andrea sang a bunch of crowd-favourite songs like ‘Shakalaka Baby’, ‘Mama Douser’, ‘Google Google’, ‘No Money No Honey’, and so on. She also did an epic mash-up of ‘Shape of You’ (by Ed Sheeran) with ‘Urvasi Urvasi’. I was also really happy that she sang my favourite song, ‘Kannum Kannum Nokia’!
She ended her set with ‘Lunghi Dance’ – and oh my goodness did I want to just stand up and dance but I couldn’t because Zone A – her performance was just too good and set the perfect mood for the next headliner – Mr. Benny Dayal.
Also, I would like to suggest to Mojo organisers that in the future, the entire arena should switch to Rock Zone mode after 9pm, because it doesn’t do justice to the headliners’ explosive sets when we’re sitting down.
7. Benny Dayal
This was my first time watching Benny Dayal live – and I was mind-blown. From the very second that he took the stage, all the way to the end, every second of his performance was full of energy, every segment felt like it was meticulously crafted. At point, I even wondered if Benny had a PHD in crowd-entertaining, because that’s what it felt like.
He knew his crowd so well, his energy was 110% throughout, his dance moves were impeccable (and oh my god how cool was that moonwalk right?), and his crowd engagement was genius! I really don’t have enough words to describe how awesome Benny’s set was. Some of the songs he belted out were ‘Taxi Taxi’, ‘Dil Se’, ‘Omana Penne’, ‘Usalambatti’, ‘Chikkubukku Railey’, and bits from his iconic Project Urvasi. I personally really enjoyed his rendition of ‘Guleba’ – which transported us from KWC Mall to a colourful Latin Fiesta.
Benny, you have to come back because you definitely left us wanting more!
Congratulations to Mojo Projects for pulling off the biggest Indian concert this year and for giving us night full of world-class music. Looking forward to 2019!