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Nostalgia In the Now: Sonia Saigal Performs Live At NCPA

The singer rolled back the years with a string of evergreen hits

Sunil Sampat Apr 21, 2022

Sonia Saigal. Photo: Courtesy of the NCPA

Music that one hears in one’s youth seems to be special for them. It stays with them for a long time and one has fond memories, perhaps of the association with happy times of school and college life.

Bringing back such memories in song was Sonia Saigal and her quintet at the NCPA in Mumbai on April 7th, with a repertoire of songs mainly from the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s. Saigal performed with five fine backing musicians including the wonderful Harmeet Manseta on acoustic piano and keyboards, Christopher Fonseca on guitar, Leo Mathews on keyboards, Ryan Fernandes on bass guitar and Denzil Fernandes on drums, taking us on a nostalgic ride featuring some yesteryear hits.

The session opened with “Far Away” from Carol King’s best-selling album Tapestry, with Manseta doing his thing on the acoustic piano.

The lively “All Night Long” by Lionel Richie was followed by Barbara Streisand’s “Guilty” that also features Barry Gibb. Remarkably, Saigal sang both Streisand’s female part of the vocals and continued the duet in Gibb’s male voice quite effortlessly.

She also sang Streisand’s wistful ballad, “The Way We Were.” Weaving in stories of how she heard and sang some of these songs with her vocalist father Don Saigal as a five-year-old, she pieced her set together with several references, adding to the nostalgia.

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For a pure jazz standard, Saigal and Manseta wove a bit of magic with “Polka Dots and Moonbeams.” This alone was worth the price of admission!

A couple of Billie Joel hits, “My Life” and “Just the Way You Are,” the evergreen Beatles track “Eleanor Rigby” and Michael Jackson’s “Off the Wall” among several others rounded off a well-chosen set of tunes to stir up memories in a couple of generations of listeners.

As always, Saigal brought a unique touch to her songs, adding a bit to the original with a fresh approach.

For an audience starved of live performances through the pandemic, it was a soothing, healing musical tonic. It’s just what the doctor ordered.

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