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Gig Review :: Alexandra Stan :: HRC Mumbai, Dec 16th

Mr. Saxobeat and a little more, performed for the first time in India, at Hard Rock Café, Mumbai! 

December 16th was a day that began like any other. I woke up usual time, went over my agenda for the day and the rest of the week. I was looking forward to the usual follow up – reading the newspaper over breakfast – and there, on the back page, I see, underneath a Bacardi logo, this full page advertisement:

The Star Behind the Smash Hit – ‘Mr. Saxobeat’ presenting for the first time in India – Alexandra Stan.

I rubbed my eyes to ensure it wasn’t an illusion. But it was true – the 22-year old pop princess – the winner of 2011 MTV Europe Awards for Best Romanian Act – was actually performing that night, at Hard Rock Café!

My first reaction was – how come we at The Score weren’t told about this?! In fact, our November Edition even had a feature on her! At that time, ‘Mr. Saxobeat’ had garnered close to 35 million views on Youtube. I checked a little later, and she was coursing above 40 million already!

This, I figured, we HAD to see. At any cost. And so, at the very last minute, the necessary calls and arrangements were made. Lets just say the day that started off on a mundane note ended on the opposite end of the spectrum.

When we arrived at Hard Rock Café that evening, we were in for a sight. We were welcomed at the door by a couple of very attractive Romanian models, pouring us shots of Bacardi Razz – to set the mood, ostensibly – while JSM’s resident DJ, DJ Roanne was spinning away, trying to warm up the crowd. The crowd consisted primarily of tweens – which makes perfect sense, considering Stan’s own age and the demographic that is generally in tune with such trends.

Probably the most spectacular feature of the night was how Hard Rock Café had been transformed completely from the inside, made to resemble a night club than a rock pub – with fully revamped stage and light show ensemble, seats and tables cleared up to provide a dance floor of sorts, and two different VIP sections.

The venue started getting densely packed, with very little room to move, let alone dance, around 11 pm. You could sense the impatience with which Stan’s youngster fans were just waiting for her to grace the stage. First came Stan’s saxophonist, who enthralled the audience with his energetic outburst of brass and wind.


Within a few minutes, Alexandra Stan finally arrived (sneaking in through the back door), welcomed by an uproar. Without further ado, they launched right into their first number – ‘Mr. Saxobeat.’

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As soon as she started, or actually, even before she started, all her fans were ready with their phones and digital cameras, recording her every move and twist and turn, as she sang and danced away to the beat. And an infectious beat it sure was – you could see the kids in the crowd shaking and dancing in what little space they could. 

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Having witnessed this, it was evident that this was a performance where the pop artist was actually singing, and not lip-syncing, as is the case in larger arenas. One could tell it was definitely live, since there were a few instances where she seemed to let the Romanian accent slip in – but that actually added some authenticity to the whole act.

Stan throws aside all presumptions and prejudice of being a diva, as she addressed the crowd in her heavily accented English, explaining how good she felt to be in India and how she loved the culture. Though her speech sounded a little rehearsed (again, English is NOT her first language), one could sense that she was indeed being genuine.

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While she seemed to be the center of all attention, her saxophonist deserves a special mention, since he was the lifeblood of her music that night. Synthetic beats and electronic sounds aside, he was the one playing each tune flawlessly, making the saxophone seem like an extremely cool instrument altogether.

In the day and age when most tweens end up leaning towards guitars and drums to conform to the ‘rockstar’ image, the saxophonist put up a relentless display of finesse in each and every number.

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After about 4 songs, something seemed amiss, as Alexandra Stan seemed to be a bit hurried and anxious, judging by the pace of her last shout-out to the audience. She played ‘Mr. Saxobeat’ yet again, which made us wonder about the repetition. It wasn’t that she had run out of her repertoire, considering that she had only played one other original – ‘Get back (ASAP)’ and one other cover, but the audience didn’t seem to mind hearing their favourite yet again. And as soon as she was done with that, she quickly hurried off stage, much to the disappointment of everyone present.


There were rumours afloat – maybe she’d gone in for a little break, maybe she’s having a costume change – after all, it had only been about 25 minutes that she was up on stage… in the meantime, numerous fans, young and old (yes, a middle aged lady was also a part of it) tried to smooth talk and plead with the bouncer, to let them into the back room to exchange words with Stan – one guy was even begging the bouncer himself to get him an autograph – but after about 20 minutes of her disappearance, it was clear that she had left the venue. 

While DJ Roanne continued to play, we left, mystified over the reasons for Stan’s unforeseen early departure. Was it a case of stage fright? That couldn’t have been – she seemed to be really enjoying herself out there… Was she nervous? That wasn’t possible – she sang out each song perfectly, and seemed to be feeding off the crowd’s energy. Was she unwell? Was she pulling a princessy-stunt? Again, these questions seemed baseless, in the wake of her addressing the crowd each time. 

Maybe… maybe she actually found the enigmatic Mr. Saxobeat that she sings about, and had to leave an eager but disappointed audience behind… whatever the real reason, we shall never know… But we shall look forward to the next time she performs for us again in Mumbai, with new songs, and a longer performance!



Reetu Rehal @ Avian Media, for her support and cooperation.

Deepti Karam Thakur and Neha Garg @ TCC, for their cooperation and company.

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