This was perhaps ‘staged’. Salman Ahmed whispered something to Ali Azmat, who then responded “What, NOW? Really”? A couple of minutes later that tune, the one that made Junoon a global brand, played out. It was Sayonee time and how! Karachi, had waited a decade and a half to just hum along with this beautifully simple tune and it happened.
Ali Azmat, Salman Ahmed and Brian O’Connell; Junoon, is back all guns blazing. Ali Azmat and Salman Ahmed were still at their flamboyant best, wearing crazy clothes. While Brian was understated as usual. It was like nothing has changed! For a concert, this one was wonderfully well organized. It kicked off a tad bit late, which is a wonderful thing because we are accustomed concerts starting hours late.
It all started with a voiceover talking about Junoon and Pakistan. It did seem a bit of distraction. But it made for a wonderful entry point for the band’s starter ‘Junoon se ishq se milti hai azadi. This was followed by Zamanay k Andaz badlay gaye and Khudi ko kar buland itna. This was a bit in line as to how the two leading men’s journey has taken them post Junoon.
Next they turned to Sajna, a personal favourite of mine. This song, for me brings the best out of Ali Azmat. It’s the energy which is just palpable. Nend ate nahe, an early indicator of Junoon’s greatest played out next. The crowd which was banging their heads a couple of songs ago were now moving with this beautiful melody. Dee Heeray was mashed up with Shamaan Payan.
Perhaps the moment of the concert followed with that Sayonee tune. Those in attendance were treated to Bulleya, Husn Walaon and Khawab next. Ghooma Tana’s rejigged version was presented by 4 young girls. And such is the versatility of the band, they amped up again with Saien and Lal Meri Pat. A special tribute to Junaid Jamshed was given as the whole stadium sang Dil Dil Pakistan. Another beautiful Junoon number, Chaley thy sath sath was followed by Dosti. And they ended with Jazba e Junoon sending the Junoonis in a frenzy. Audacious fireworks followed this mesmerizing performance.
It was a magical night for all those who had grown up listening to this wild band. Technically, it may not be Junoon’s best ever concert. But high on energy and nostalgia, it was up there with any of their performances.
Before Junoon, 4 bands played: Lyari Underground, Khumariyan, Tamasha and Sound of Kolachi. Each had their moments. Tamasha’s vocalist, who doesn’t have the quintessential look of a rock band lead but he more than makes up for it with his charm, stage presence and off course strong vocals. Their version of Raag Neela and their own song Paisa Phaink were impressive. Khumariyan and Sound of Kolachi are bands which offer something different and unique. Their performances were also widely enjoyed by those in attendance. Lyari Underground’s rap style music was well received too.
But this night was truly for Junoon. While there are legitimate fears that commercialization of music, but Sooper as a brand really pulled off a coup here. Hundreds of thousands would associate Junoon’s comeback with the brand. This was magic for the aging Junoon fan club. Each song took us back in time, each song had a different memory associated with it. This was like Electrical cardioversion for the child that was in coma for so long. Now, he/she wants more!
Long live the Junoon!