Having performed at all live SOORIYA SHOWS during the mid-60s and 70s era as a member of the La Bambas, I carry fond and vivid memories including personal experiences about them, although I must confess some interesting happenings and anecdotes could be forgotten by me due to the passage of time.
The star spangled SOORIYA SHOW – that’s how these stage shows were introduced by the debonair compere Mr. Vijaya Corea (latterly, Dr. Vijaya). I believe that around two SOORIYA Shows were organized annually, featuring the galaxy of singing stars that included Darlene Arnolda, Noeliine Mendis, Sam Nathan, Desmond de Silva, M.S. Fernando in addition to the 70s groups such as Moonstones, Three Sisters, Los Flamencos, La Bambas, Dharmaratne Brothers with Shiromie Fernando, Paul Fernando and Victor Silva who had all recorded on the SOORIYA record label during those halcyon and tranquil days.
Most of the shows were held in Colombo at the Nawarangahala and the Ramakrishna Mission hall in Wellawatte – prime venues at that time. The shows were well planned – never too long and boring like certain nowadays programs and were around 3 hour’s duration at the most. The program would start on time and finish likewise. Most importantly, the music which was all performed on stage (not ‘programmed’ the easy way out like nowadays, with technology rather than talent) was very listenable and not unbearable and loud!
A Personal Experience
I recall that the La Bambas required six microphones on stage for our performance – unlike the individual artistes and certain others, as the six of us had to blend our vocal harmonies in a balanced manner while at the same time our unplugged acoustic guitar playing plus the percussion sounds also had to be carried via the sound system and heard by the audience to their liking. All of this ‘balancing act’ was a tricky and a frightening experience! Due to this technical difficulty, at our behest, we were slotted to perform at these shows soon after the halfway intermission. This gave us the opportunity to organize ourselves on stage while the curtain was closed and none in the audience would observe the halabaloo going on behind the stage from where they are seated!
I remember the sound engineer – the amiable Tissa’s role during the interval to ensure that all microphones were placed and balanced accordingly. Once the curtain opened and we began to perform, we would very carefully but feverishly listen to what is heard over the speakers to the best of our ability and adjust our volume and positions with the microphones as quickly as possible during the act itself. This was a nightmare that many other singers did not experience, as an unbalanced result would have been disaster for us!
The SOORIYA SHOW also took us to Kandy a couple of times. I also remember the C.T. SOORIYA SHOW executed as a joint effort along with Mr. C.T. Fernando at the Sugathadasa indoor stadium, when compere Vijaya Corea had to rush out somewhere no sooner the show began – and believe me, I had to compere the entire show wearing someone else’s coat! (Therefore I believe I am the only person other than Dr. Vijaya Corea to compere a SOORIYA SHOW perhaps by default!).
Each SOORIYA SHOW drew a capacity crowd. They were all family oriented programs. Although there were friends and buddies who planned and came for the show, it was more of an intimate affair where family members thronged to witness these shows in great numbers…