A lunar experience

By Qasim Abdallah Moini

Chand raat is ideally spent with your near and dear ones as it is indeed a time for celebration and unbridled joy. This past Chand raat, actor Adnan Siddiqui had other plans as he beckoned the citizens of Karachi to his upscale salon Get Smart for a Chand raat extravaganza featuring visiting Lahoris Noori and raag-meets-rock outfit Fuzon.

It was an odd place and time for a concert as the stage was set up in what seemed to be a parking lot on one of the busiest nights of the year. But the spread was intimate and tastefully done as the audience was seated on lavish carpets with luxuriant gow takiyas for lumbar support. Mehndi was being applied in one corner onto the anxious hands of effervescent young girls eager to partake in the ritual as the delightful scent of shawarma (not free mind you) wafted over the premises.

At 10:00pm, Noori were still fiddling with their instruments, busy with their sound check. Slowly but surely the invited started assembling, and it's safe to say that the celebrity brigade was in full effect. Spotted in the motley crew were Sheheryar Ahmad and Ali Azmat from Junoon, the guys from Aaroh, Babar Shaikh, Sania Saeed, Aijaz Aslam, Sonia Khan, Mishi Khan, cricketer Moin Khan (enough Khan's), BilalMaqsood, Humayun Saeed and Sajid Hasan among others. It was hard trying to find normal, everyday people as the celebrities and semi-celebrities schmoozed and socialized. Almost everybody who was anybody in Karachi was present. Matter of fact, if everybody was here, one wondered who was left at home to prepare the sheer khorma and other gastronomical goodies associated with the festive season. But in this crowd, one figured that the good old masi would come to the rescue yet again.

Of course the man of the hour, Adnan Siddiqui, now sporting longer tresses, was scurrying about trying to get the show on the road and trying his best to keep out the riff-raff. At 11:40 Adnan pleaded with the crowd to sit down so that the concert could start and a little before midnight Noori took the stage and lunged into their bag of jangley alterna-pop rock.They started with Dil ki qasam, a song of hope quite similar in structure to their current teenybopper single Tum hans diye. Naturally the segue was too inviting to resist as they launched into the afore mentioned track with bassist Mohammad Ali Jafri throwing down some tight patterns. Ali Noor pouted and leapt around stage much to the delight and squeals of many young females in the crowd. Suno kai mai hoon jawan had a very post-alternative flavour to it and the solo echoed back to the days of the Cure. Ooncha hoon main had impressive lyrics and a driving U2-esque rhythm guitar.

As the band took five, the 'emcee' of the programme, clad in an eye-sore shade of PVC, took to the stage much to the chagrin of all present. He dived headfirst into a nonsensical rap with the aid of an uncomfortable looking Gumby, and many prayers of thanks were said as he vacated the stage for Lahore's tempestuous sons once again.

They took off for round two with a ballad penned by Zehra Nigah. Despite the senior poet's touch, it didn't click at all. Bolo followed, and this will be the band's next single. Babar is slated to direct the video. Again shades of the Cure were heard in the tune. So much for Ali Noor claiming he hasn't been influenced by anybody. Could be. Maybe Robert Smith's a big Noori fan. Noor wryly introduced the song that has made the band what they are - Manwa re - as "my favourite song in the world." It was totally reworked and elicited quite a response from the whole crowd. Shouts emanated for Gowalmandi, a song about dubious, shady characters in compromising situations, but the band did not oblige. They closed off their mostly well-played set with Doobara phirsay, a Punjabi number and Gana No. 1.

Fuzon took the stage all bright and early at 1:00am. A pleasant surprise was that ace ax-man of yore Amir Zaki was helping the trio of Shafqat, Shallum and Imu out on the bass. The band kicked off with Duriyan, and Shallum's fiery acoustic solo combined with outclass bass wizardry from Zaki ignited the crowd. Matter of fact, it was the constant interplay between these two - Zaki a veteran guitar/bass slinger and Shallum a talented but new entrant in the arena - that made Fuzon's set memorable. Even for people who were not fans or were not familiar with the band's music, the superb dynamics between the players made one appreciate their dexterity. Whereas Noori was a whole lot of youthful energy, Fuzon showed that experienced road warriors like Zaki and Shafqat can still play the crowd.

The second song was very Clapton-esque - circa Tears in heaven. On Pyar na raha, Zaki's explosive bass, Shafqat's well-trained vocals and Shallum's strumming combined for a driving funker. Akhiyan was well done as well, but it was Ankhon kay sagar (on which the band screwed up initially but recovered as Imu's synth textures from his arse-whooping Korg Triton melded with Shafqat's vocals) which formed the masterstroke.

As people started vacating the lot - some did have to offer Eid prayers in the morning - Fuzon showed no signs of letting up on their sonic barrage. Overall a Chand raat well spent with driving acoustic music to usher in the Eid celebrations.

Courtesy The Dawn; Images.