The cool sea breeze teased my hair as I entered Karachi’s Moin Khan Academy to attend what was possibly one of the biggest events of this decade: the Sooper Junoon concert. Thousands of Pakistanis from across the world, including women and children, came together to witness the magic of one of Pakistan’s best music bands, once again. After several failed attempts to bring the band together, leading biscuit brand Peek Freans Sooper finally managed to get the music maestros on stage and let’s just the say the result was epic.
Though I have attended my fair share of concerts over the years, nothing quite matched up to the aura and electric energy that radiated through the crowds Tuesday night. From Khumariyan’s soulful opening to Salman Ahmed’s tribute to Junaid Jamshed, the entire event was a music lover’s dream come true.
The Sooper Junoon concert commenced with some brilliant performances by several bands including Lyaari Underground, Khumariyan, Tamasha and Sounds of Kolachi. However, Khumariyan’s performance, which mostly featured instrumental tunes truly, stole the show.
As the opening performances drew to a close, audiences waited with bated breaths for Junoon to finally take the stage and when Ali Azmat, Salman Ahmed and Brian O’ Connell, along with the rest of the band members, finally made an appearance, the cheer that emitted from the stadium could probably be heard for miles. Both the leads, Ali and Salman, were dressed in flamboyant and colourful outfits, staying true to their essence and personas.
Junoon opened their act with Azaadi, which perfectly complemented the date on the calendar i.e. 25th December, the birth date of the founder of the country, Muhammad Ali Jinnah. They then proceeded to perform their iconic numbers, including Khudi ko ker buland itna, Saiyonee, Ni Heerey enthralling the huge crowds which swayed and danced to the beat of the drums and guitar.
As the event entered its final stage, Salman took the mic and remembered his dear friend Junaid Jamshed, who passed away two years back in an airplane crash, sending waves of emotions across the crowd.
Salman shared with the audiences that the night before Jamshed travelled to Chitral, he called him up and the two spoke for almost two hours about “everything under the sun”.
In the conversation, Junaid expressed his desire, and was almost persistent, to see him [Salman] and Ali perform live on stage. Salman said that he told Junaid that they would talk about this when he would return from Chitral but unfortunately he never returned. Salman concluded that this event was a tribute to his friend, after which he went onto play Dil Dil Pakistan while pictures of Junaid and Salman were displayed on the large screens. The moment was nothing short of sentimental and some members of the audiences were seen shedding a few tears.
Salman also remembered the great Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and recalled an occasion when he and his band members were given the privilege to sit in the maestro’s company and learn from him. Taking a cue from this, Salman brought four young girls on stage, whom he had spotted at a local school’s event and trained them, and performed Dhoom Tana, alongside them.
The event concluded with a stellar display of fireworks as the band played Jazba Junoon, mesmerising the crowd whose eyes darted between the fireworks and the musicians.
This concert proved that these stars are truly in a league of their own and nothing can quite match up to their star power and crowd-pulling ability. Prominent members of the entertainment industry, including Ali Rehman Khan, Deepak Perwani, Zahid Ahmed, Nabeel Zuberi, Ayesha Omar, Hareem Farooq, Junaid Khan, Farhan Saeed and Zoheb Hassan were also part of the crowd as was Wasim Akram and Governor Sindh Imran Ismail.
And as a concluding remark, a shout out to the team behind the event who ensured that they left no stone unturned for smooth sailing. Their hard work shone through the entire event.
The Pakistani entertainment industry has definitely taken a turn for the better and here’s to hoping that more such events take place in the future.