One hour into their performance at Khar's Willingdon Gymkhana, The Bellamy Brothers pause, wait for the applause and song requests to stop and say, “It's amazing that you guys know some of our old numbers that we ourselves have forgotten”. The statement is greeted with hoots of laughter and the brothers, Howard and David, start singing a crowd favourite, “ Let your love flow.” After every song, the crowd shouts out their favourites and the brothers acquiesce. Watching their energy on stage, it is difficult to believe that an hour back, they were tired and jet lagged.
“We are tired of travel, it's the hardest thing. Singing and playing, that we like,” says David, sitting in the coffee shop of a leading hotel, an hour before the show. The brothers are on their first tour to South East Asia and from India will be going to Sri Lanka, Australia, Brazil and a couple of European countries. “This year too, we won't be home much,” he adds. Inspired by the tour and the ensuing jet lag, their next album, releasing later this year in Europe, will have a song called jet lag. And yes, Mumbai will be mentioned in it.
This may be their first trip to India but the brothers have always found Indian fans in their concerts in Europe and America. “We've been told that “Beautiful Body” (If I said you had a beautiful body, would you hold it against me) is played at weddings,” says David. They think it's amusing and chuckle when they learn that Faithful by the singer Lobo, who grew up down the road from them, is also a hit at certain weddings.
In their 30 plus, years on the road, the brothers have performed in about 60 countries. “It’s one of the reasons we developed a world market, we have gone and visited the countries,” says Howard. To their credit, they have always had good shows barring the one where David fell off the stage. “It wasn't my fault,” he says. “We were in Norway and they kept feeding me moonshine.”
The crowd in Mumbai may not have been a fraction of the 750,000 people they performed for at a music festival in Washington, but the enthusiasm was equalled. They queued up outside the venue from 6pm till the gates opened, they applauded long and hard after each song and they sang along to most numbers, trying but never managing to drown out the voices of the brothers and their band on stage.
Besides their tours, the Bellamy Brothers also participate in music festivals across the country. None of them can however be as interesting as the ones they used to organise back home in Florida, when they were once sued by chimpanzees. “We had hired a promoter to run things. He had promised that some of the money from the festival would go to the farm to help these chimps. We didn't know about it. He didn't pay them. One day we get a letter from a lawyer representing the chimpanzees,” says David. The matter was settled quickly.
The Bellamy Brothers have grown up singing gospel songs and have released two gospel albums till date. “It’s almost mandatory that in your career you do a gospel album if you are country singer. Even Elvis did one,” says Howard. At all their concerts, they make it a point to sing at least one gospel number; in Mumbai they sang, “ Pray for me”.
During their concerts in Mumbai and in Goa, the brothers, accompanied by a five-member band sang some of their hits numbers, from “Lovers live longer”, “Let your love flow”, “Old Hippie”, “I love you for all the wrong reasons”, and several more. A new song, and one that got the loudest applause because of its lyrics, was called “Jalapenos”. It is a satirical view of the social and political climate in the US and talks about gun control and immigration issues.
2015 will be the brothers 40th year on the road. To celebrate it, they will be releasing an album of 30 songs – 15 of their Number 1 singles and 15 new ones. Later this year, they will be releasing an album in collaboration with Swiss rocker Gölä.