Peace concert enthrals music lovers

Published February 24, 2024
Musicians perform at the Napa concert on Friday.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
Musicians perform at the Napa concert on Friday.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

KARACHI: When one received the invitation to a ‘peace anthem’ concert to be held on Friday evening at the National Academy of Performing Arts (Napa) one was wondering how would the featured vocalists do justice to classical songs made immortal by the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan and The Beatles.

Well, if truth be told, the two lead vocalists — Maria and Shahab — did a very good job, along with the band’s front-man Zeeshan Mansoor who knows how to wield the axe. He was the one who put together the musicians. He is from Islamabad and is the great grandson of Baba-i-Urdu Maulvi Abdul Haq.

The gig justifiably kicked off with the Bob Marley number Get up, Stand Up. It enabled the audience to immediately realise that they’re in for some quality musical treat. The two singers along with the musicians performed the song in its true, uplifting reggae spirit.

Next up was the George Harrison track Give Me Peace. Zeeshan’s fondness for the classics was evident from the playlist for two reasons: meaningful lyrics and the strong rhythm patterns of the chosen tunes. But he never let the melodies take a back seat by virtue of his masterful use of the guitar.

Next up was A Change is Gonna Come the Bob Dylan-inspired Sam Cooke song. Maria did a fine, fine job with it. An impressive aspect of her singing is the control with which she performs in the mid register. She is a serious talent.

John Lennon’s Imagine seemed an automatic inclusion as was the Beatles’ While My Guitar Gently Weeps. Again, Zeeshan’s work on the riffs and solos was commendable.

One of the signs of a gig’s success is when the audience asks for a song originally by a musician who is not easy to cover. When someone shouted ‘Jimi Hendrix’ the guitarist replied the band ‘would get to that’ soon. But not before performing the iconic Dylan track Blowing in the Wind. It was such a delight to listen to the song live and sway to it.

Given the subject of the show, peace, Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On was also inevitable. It was nicely done. Later on, Jimi Hendrix’s Little Wing was played, sung by Zeeshan himself.

The show was closed with a couple more peace anthems: Michael Jackson’s Heal the World and We Are The World, which was immortalised by the ensemble USA for Africa. Members of the Napa choir also joined the musicians on stage for the finale, and were sent off amid a standing ovation by those in attendance.

Published in Dawn, February 24th, 2024

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