The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

Salute to the roots of Sri Lankan Music


OH WHAT A NIGHT !  The Sri Lankan music loving public was once again proud to witness the mammoth task of Rajiv Sebastian who was able to bring back a galaxy of stars of yesteryear to re-live the nostalgic memories of Sri Lankan music. He well deserves credit for shouldering the burden of coordinating and managing all aspects at a time where organizing a concert of this nature is not an uncomplicated matter, and this is one of the shows in his lineup of “Tribute to Clarence”, “Back to the 70`s”, ‘5 Star explosion’, ‘70`s to the millennium’, ‘Rajiv Sebastian in concert’, ‘The legends of Sri Lankan pop’, ‘Desmond & Dezmond’ etc..
The fans of legendary hit makers came in droves to hear and see their favourites back in high action at the sold out concert at Nelum Pokuna last Saturday. The older fans gathered to savour the event and listen to their favourite songs, while the young eager to enjoy, maybe for the first time, a concert with a difference.

As it was past seven o’clock, the anticipation began to mount and the murmur of voices which echoed the question “What’s the delay for?”… And then a ‘sound of hush’ in the auditorium as the compere Vijaya Corea took center stage and began in his sonerous voice tracing the roots.

The band Rajiv and Clan then struck the opening chords for the ever green hit of Vivian de Silva Boralessa who belong to the gramophone era in Sri Lanka, appeared on a platform with a dancing troop that arose from underground singing “Dura penena thanithala “initially sung with a Kanthi Wakwella composed by B. S. Perera in the 50’s was an ideal opener for the concert as Poson poya was celebrated in the same month.

The ice breaker changed all the anxious moments into musical happiness.  Desmond de Silva made his entrance attired with a sarong and coat imitating the great entertainer Eddie Jayamanne (Edward Victor Wanniarchchi Jayamanne born in 1915) of yester year. Desmond, although bit taller than Eddie almost became another Eddie to entertain the folks. The ‘takarang voice’ of Eddie was given a bit boyish voice by Desmond. ‘Srini ape Lankawe sinhalaya, ‘kolompure sriya’ followed by ‘nonage ale ‘of the first Sri Lankan film ‘Kadawunu Poronduwa’

The combination of Jenifer Rita Fernando alias Latha Walpola and Ishaq Beig took the audience back in time to many decades. The medley comprised a number of popular hits of Latha and Mohideen Beig were well backed by the Band.

Rasammah Dasy Daniels alias Rukmani Devi born in Nuwara Eliya was paid a great tribute by young Tashni Perera appearing in a similar dress and hair style   performing a couple of her popular songs who tried to do her best despite the preference of the audience for an identical voice of Rukmani Devi, the First Sri Lankan actress who made a revolution in the film industry.

The rare combination of five calypso lead singers, Errol Fernando (Loss Cabellaros), Priya Peiris( La Bambas), Raymond Fonseka (Samanalayo), Sepala Gunasekara (Buzzing Bees), and Christine Gunawardene( La Ceylonians) who performed together as a single unit with their originals Gayana Gayum, Ruwan mali, Nalawena –mau- ukule, Dunhinda Manamali in harmony  received a great applause from the audience that  must surely have warmed their hearts.

The Trio Annesley Malawana, Anil Bharati and Rajiv Sebastian paid a great tribute to the era of Sri Lankan pop created by the late Clarence Wijewardene presenting a number of hits recorded by Moonstones, Golden Chimes and Super Golden Chimes. The three blending voices mesmerized the audience throughout their performance. The selection of the song  “Api raga wayanawa” composed by Badraji Mahinda Jayathilaka  I am sure  would have been an earful to the goons who try to obstruct the trio from keeping Clarence`s memento alive.

Vernon Perera rendered a glowing tribute to veteran H.R.Jothipala’s hits in a remarkable manner with his stark voice and kept the audience fully entertained.  Desmond with his usual charm was in the lime light again singing compositions of the late great Wally Bastian. Irine Josephine,Le kiri karala,wada kaha sudiya..Etc and had the audience with him clapping and singing as he swung the baila in his inimitable style, complete with his characteristic dance steps.

The coming together of all artists at the end of the show that night representing different styles in the form of a medley was indeed touching and significant.
- Thomas Benjamin

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