Bigger than the Silverdome

Back in June, the Wonder Twins set off on a journey to the Pontiac Silverdome to see Indian composer and musician A.R. Rahman's Journey Home World Tour. As they drove up that fateful day, police turned them and countless others away. Apparently a massive stage collapse had forced the cancellation of the show, and the majority of the rest of the tour ultimately had to be rescheduled. This past Saturday was the make-up date. The Wonder Twins were in attendance to get their "Jai Ho" on.

I'm really glad the stage didn't collapse this time.

Laura: No kidding. The fact nobody was killed back in June was a miracle. It was a major catastrophe. 

D'Anne: For the uninitiated — and I certainly was before this — A.R. Rahman is a composer and singer who primarily writes music for Indian cinema.

Laura: He is known best for Slumdog Millionaire, but he has composed music for 130 different movies and has sold more than 100 million albums worldwide. I guess that makes it safe to say he's "kind of a big deal."

D'Anne: When you told me this show was at the Pontiac Silverdome, I thought that meant you had invented some sort of time traveling device. Because I didn't realize that things still happened in that giant ghost shell of a stadium.

Laura: Me either! Even walking through the parking lot felt weird — so many weeds and untended cracks and holes. And virtually none of the outside lights were on. It was like we were going to a rave.

D'Anne: Walking through the door and seeing the concession stand open and people buying food was weird too. I couldn't help but feel like that was the first time in years they'd used the stands — like they opened it up and just blew all the dust off the industrial sized bags of chips and vats of nacho cheese.

Laura: You visited said concession stand and became belligerent when the lady told you that, no, you could not have the cap to your $4 bottle of water.

D'Anne: I did not become belligerent — I just told the lady that if I couldn't have the cap, I wouldn't buy a bottle of water.

Laura: I've never quite understood this policy at venues. Are they worried people are going to throw the caps? I mean, even with no cap, a full bottle of water could be thrown pretty far.

D'Anne: Or you could fill it with piss, use chewed gum to stop up the top and throw it that way.

Laura: Wow. Um, I feel uncomfortable, but thankful you thought of this just now, and not while we were at the show.

D'Anne: Call me paranoid, but I would like to be the person to unseal my own bottle of water, please. I am not 3 years old.

Laura: Totally fair.

D'Anne: It is not a stretch to say we were in the minority there. The vast majority of attendees were Indian.

Laura: This is true. Oddly, we were seated next to two young white girls who were wearing bindis and saris. 

D'anne: Yes — and when we sat down, one of the girls said, "I'm so glad you guys are Americans, I feel more comfortable now." I pointed out that, in fact, the majority of people there were probably Americans. She didn't seen to know that "American" isn't synonymous with "white person."

Laura: She then asked us if we'd seen Slumdog Millionaire. It's a good thing that you were sitting closer to them, I probably would've gone all "Bollywood snob" on her. 

D'Anne: Even I felt like a Bollywood snob, and I've only seen like three Hindi films in my life.

Laura: They were very earnest, and were clearly very excited to be there. Everybody was excited to be there — A.R. Rahman has a very big fan base in Detroit.

D'Anne: When he came out on stage, he welcomed the audience and said, "We apologize for what happened last time," as he looked nervously up at the lighting rigs.

Laura: The stage was really big and elaborate with tons of fancy effects, lights and props. It was like Cirque du Soleil. Or perhaps something U2 would grudgingly agree to perform on in a pinch.

D'Anne: I was really confused about the beginning of the show, where a young boy in khaki shorts and enormous white tennis shoes runs around looking lost and sad.

Laura: If it weren't for the dramatic music and the spotlight on him, I would've thought he was just some kid from the audience who wasn't being properly supervised.

D'Anne: When the lights came up, we saw a giant, elaborate staircase in the middle of the stage with A.R. Rahman at the top. As he sang and made his way down, ladies were popping out of secret compartments in the staircase.

Laura: The crowd was going wild. I think it's safe to include me in this category. There were tons of people on stage throughout the show — musicians, various singers, dancers. It was a real extravaganza.

D'Anne: Some of it was a little "over the top" for me. OK, a lot of it. OK, most of it. OK, all of it.

Laura: I could tell. Even I felt like that for some of the show. Especially the songs that were partially or totally in English. Because when the lyrics are not shrouded in the exotic mystery of a foreign language, they can sometimes be ... well ...

D'Anne: Terribly trite? For instance, "Dreams on fire, higher and higher?"

Laura: Yes. That same line in Hindi would probably make me swoon.

D'Anne: You're a sucker for the cheese.

Laura: Oh, yes I am.

D'Anne: The little boy at the beginning of the show appeared a couple more times during transitions, dancing around and looking lost. And then all of a sudden he was back again — this time dressed as Michael Jackson, complete with sequined glove crotch-grabbing.

Laura: Yes — a little boy performing as Michael Jackson was unexpected and a little creepy. According to A.R. Rahman's Facebook page, "[Including] 'Black and White' was my tribute to a legend and friend, MJ, who passed much before his time."

D'Anne: It still doesn't make any sense — was the boy's journey to become Michael Jackson?

Laura: Well, the time he appeared before this, the boy was, I think, escaping his burning village? It's possible that tragedy makes you become Michael Jackson. Or at least a Michael Jackson impersonator.

D'Anne: I'm sure just a few brief interviews with some of the guys working the MJ circuit around Hollywood and Vegas would easily confirm this.

Laura: The show was about three hours long. And even as somebody who loves this kind of stuff, I was starting to get a little antsy for "Jai Ho."

D'Anne: "Jai Ho" being the big song from Slumdog Millionaire.

Laura: "Jai Ho" means "May Victory be yours!"

D'Anne: And since the stage didn't collapse again, I think that counts as a victory.

Laura: "Jai Ho." Mos def.

D'Anne and Laura are music critics for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected]
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