Shillong the preferred destination for international rock bands

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Guwahati, Nov 11 (UNI) Nestled in the hills, the city of Shillong has been successful in stamping its name firmly on the international music circuit and hosting the biggest names in the industry, as music reverberates through the veins of its people.

From Eric Martin of ''Mr Big'' fame to Scorpions to Sepultura, the leading names and bands of the international music arena have once again bypassed the metros of Kolkata, Delhi and others, to sing for the genuine music-loving crowds of Shillong this year.

Meghalaya Education Minister R G Lyngdoh, an ardent music buff himself, who also plays a number of instruments, had projected music as the means of uniting the people and said, ''We want the world to change its perception about the North East. (NE) is not just about insurgency and negative things. We want to focus more on the positive vibrations.'' As Mumbai gyrated to the tunes of Beyonce Knowles in October, Shillong erupted to the songs of Eric Martin last month.

Even though the media hype over Eric's performance may have been relatively less due to the ''unconventional'' host city of Shillong, the performer himself went back with the fondest memories as huge crowds sang every word of the lyrics with him.

When asked why he had chosen Shillong for his maiden show in India, Eric quipped, ''Great bands like Michael Learns To Rock (MLTR) and Firehouse have had some of their best shows here. There are a lot of genuine music lovers in Shillong.'' In fact, Eric had learnt of Shillong's music craze from a member of 'Firehouse', who had performed in Shillong a couple of years back.

''My friends of Firehouse said, the music craze is phenomenal here. Thousands of people join the performers, without missing a single word or rhythm,'' Eric added.

Besides, the local crop of musicians are not a forgotten lot during such concerts. Local lad and Indian Idol III finalist Amit Paul sang the famous Mr Big song ''To Be With You'' along with Eric, while vocalist of local band 'SnowWhite Timmy Kharhujon jammed with Eric for another blockbuster ''Wild World''.

Within five days of Eric's concert, the Brazilian heavy metal band 'Sepultura' enthralled Shillong as part of the 'Kingfisher Metal Fest, 2007'.

Heavy metal music aficionados may be decreasing in some parts of the country but Shillong remains true to its tradition of love for all kinds of music, from heavy metal to jazz to rock to folk.

David Green, the frontman of Sepultura, had said before the performance, Shillong's reputation has long been engraved in music circuits and the tales of its music craze are well known now.

To dismiss the doubts of any dissident who still questions Shillong's top rank in international music concert diaries, the German heavy metal band 'Scorpions' will open their India tour with a performance in Shillong on December 12 as part of their world tour to promote their new album 'Humanity'.

Reckoned to be one of the biggest musical shows ever in the eastern region of the country, the organisers are expecting a much bigger turnout than the consecutive shows of the band in Bangalore and Mumbai.

''The NE is an area where western music gets its due respect.

Shillong is gradually emerging as an international music destination. The audience here knows the music, the songs and the lines. Its a great feeling for the performer,'' Mr Farhad Wadi, the CEO of E18 group, the promoters of the event, said.

Organisers say the event, expected to budget over Rs one crore, would even surpass the MLTR concert held here a few years back.

The local promoters of the concert said despite the infrastructural hiccups, Shillong had successfully outbidded Aizawl and Kolkata in hosting the show.

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