News of a concert and that too by international pop star Imran Khan spread like wildfire in Karachi last week. Almost everyone remained skeptical till the day it finally happened, especially after Mika Singh’s gig got cancelled at the very last minute. The IK concert came at a time when international stars including sports teams have refused to tour Pakistan. It’s overwhelming to see the singer display such reverence for the country of his birth, thereby inadvertently rekindling hope and rejuvenating the somewhat demoralised Karachi wallas.
The concert kicked off bang on time and a charged youth‘quake’ of a sizable magnitude could be seen at the venue already bursting at the seams (though the tickets were a major drain on the pockets due to their pricey nature, especially for students). On a countdown by DJ Bobby, the raging sensation Imran Khan, a fun personality by default with a reservoir of energy and skills matching his persona, got off to a start. Clad in a black jacket and t-shirt with his trademark dark goggles, Imran Khan came armed with a fabulous arsenal of vintage hits to wow his legion of fans. Waving a white scarf in the air, he ripped right into Hey Gal, the hard-hitting electro vibe blending with the beat to set the mood for what lay ahead.
“How are you, Karachi?” Imran called out to his fans, receiving ear-piercing screams and shouts in response. At this point, he couldn’t resist switching to Punjabi, and said “Do saal baad aya aan, phir ve tuawda pyar kum nai hoya. So, Karachi! Are you ready to make some noise?” he asked as the pitch gained volume. The next sweeping hit was Pehli Vaar from his maiden, hit album Unforgettable (2009). It landed him prestigious nominations such as The 2010 UK Asian Music Awards, Best Album, Best Video (Amplifier), Best Male Act and won the coveted Best Desi Act and the Best Album trophy at the 2010 Brit Asia TV Music Awards.
The super star became a loveable buddy, sharing laughs, shaking hands, snapping pictures with frenzied fans who dodged security and protocol to climb on stage. Imran made everyone laugh when he said, “Mein juddon ve ethay aana aan, ethay garmi hi pay rai hundi aye, utton tuaday pyar nay mausam nu hoor garam kar ditta aye” (whenever I come here, I find the weather warm and your love makes it even warmer).
Before delivering the massive hit Amplifier, a single that stayed on the Top 10 iTunes Chart for over five weeks, Imran rendered an open invitation: “Karachi, let’s make some noise!” (a cue for more screams). As the hits started coming thick and fast, it seemed everybody at the venue was biologically programmed for masti and fun, and Imran’s crazy Punjabi lines kept adding more zing to the gig. His impromptu yet abrupt digs and jibes at DJ Bobby kept the crowd amused: “DJ ko bukhaar ho gaya”, “DJ nay train phurh li”,“Oye koi DJ koi R*d B**l pilao, oye”. However it was a joy to behold for his ardent fans having him saying “I am enjoying my night here and wanna dedicate my next song to all of you who come all the way to see me” and without much ado belted out his another hit number, Superstar, and it was as if an electric charge had ripped through the crowd.
Then it was time for a brief unplugged session, banking on just the strength of Imran’s powerhouse vocal and sans any instrumental accompaniment. He rendered Bewafa beautifully, a slow mellow and subtle number that saw the crowd swaying hands. The scene was so picturesque that the singer took his own few shots of the crowd.
Striking the right chords with Chak Glass, he brought that peculiar euro electro feel back which separates this track from the rest. Picking up the pace with the rest of his older hits, Imran rushed through them and broke into a bass heavy version of Ni Nach Le, a song that catapulted him to the status of a global phenomena overnight with its release in 2007. Bounce Billo, his next peppy number, astutely fed the flagrant ecstasy.
Taking the evening to its pinnacle he belted out the penultimate number, Aaja ve Mahiya, and finally rounded off with his latest smash-hit 2013 release, Satisfya, that had the crowd pleading for an encore. The song is flaring things up for his much-anticipated second album, to be released by IK records this year. Finally, Imran Khan thanked his fans for being a wonderful audience and the Royal Rodale Club management for flawless arrangements. He bid adieu with the request: “Keep Tweeting me!”