Indian composer-singer Himesh Reshammiya held a crowd of a few thousand spellbound, belting out some of his popular numbers including the qawwali "Aapka suroor", during a show in New Jersey.
Reshammiya, with trademark baseball cap in place, filled the Sovereign Bank Arena with his sonorous voice on a sultry, hot summer Saturday evening in the southern New Jersey town on the first leg of his US concert.
The three-hour concert show, called 'Aapka Suroor Live', featured other well known Bollywood singers Alisha Chinai, Abhijeet Sawant, Himani Kapoor, Vinit Singh and actress Udita Goswami.
But the crowds came largely to hear Reshammiya, whose unique style of filling soulful lyrics of love and yearning with contemporary sounds ranging from techno, hip-hop to 1970s style disco is popular with the Indian diaspora here, particularly the younger crowd.
He showed his versatility by focusing on the more classical style of qawwalis from many films and his hit album "Aapka Suroor".
Attired in worn jeans and wide-buckled belt, Reshammiya sang for about an hour-and-a-half in three different segments, with Alisha, Abhijeet, Himani and others in the interludes.
He opened with the hit "Ashiq banaya apne" and shaped the first segment into a kind of unplugged version of "Aapka suroor", letting his voice soar with the romantic lyrics, standing alone on the stage draped in a black leather cape-like coat.
Alisha, dressed in shimmering black and white gown, lit up the hall with "Kajra re" from "Bunty Aur Babli" and the hit song from the movie "No Entry".
Reshammiya came back twice, bringing the crowd on their feet with the more trendy and faster-paced hits like "Ashiqi mein teri" from the movie "36 China Town" and "Zara jhoom jhoom".
The crowd endearingly called him "Topi" for the baseball cap he refuses to take off. Reshammiya threw some signed baseball caps to squeals of joy from the crowd.
The arena was packed but it was not a sold-out show. The mega-shows featuring big Bollywood actors tend to be more extravagant and staged on bigger budgets, drawing a wider crowd.
Reshammiya's "Aapka Suroor Live" show had a more sparse feel to it, with only six dancers and few stage props. There is a large population of NRIs who are willing to pay a premium for live music from big Bollywood composers like Reshammiya and AR Rahman, who is also on a concert tour in the US. Tickets for this show ranged from US$35 to $175 and higher.
"The show was not all it was hyped to be. But I came to hear Himesh, and he has this deep voice that is just amazing to hear live. He was wonderful," said Hoor Bhavnani, who came to the show from northern New Jersey.
The concert tour is scheduled to travel to 18 cities in the US and Canada.