It's heartwarming to see the legendary Tina Sani take to the stage. Mori Araj Suno sung by Tina and lyrical recitation by Arieb Azhar had its moments here and there, but overall was not one of the most memorable tracks of the episode.
Meesha Shafi has already made an impact as one of the defining artistes of Coke Studio 3 with her duet with Arif Lohar (Alif Allah Chambay di Booti) in Episode 1. In Chori Chori, a cover of the famous song originally sung by Reshma, she's on her own and true to form, she delivers a stellar performance. The song starts quietly and simply and turns into an almost mystic mash of music interplay with her voice reciting the line “mein chori chori... ni mein chori chori”. Gifted with a unique voice, the focus in Chori Chori is on the raw energy that emanates from her singing.
Taking to the stage, musicians Omar Bilal Akhtar, Ali Alam and Rahayl Sidikey forming the lead/backing vocal and guitar lineup stood on one corner (all three also happen to be RJs on CityFM89) with Yasir Qureshi (RJ on Radio1FM91) on his trusty darbuka with drummer Giles Goveas in another. Together, they comprise the Aunty Disco Project (ADP), a band from Karachi that has slowly but steadily been building up its following. Their performance of their signature song, Sultanat, infused a much-needed high-powered energy and was the best performance by a band so far on the crimson stage.
This version featured the female backing vocalists prominently and a darbuka solo — the bands defining instrument — introducing a whole new upbeat, fun and rocked out vibe on the show. The band put up a formidable performance and set the bar for other bands interested in performing on the show. If ADP can manage to release a full-fledged album that sounds anything like this, they are sure to emerge as a prominent force in Pakistan's music industry.
Abida Parveen performed a powerful kalam by Baba Bulleh Shah, Nigah-i-Darwaishaan. This song was a defining performance by Abida Parveen. This is one singer who can sing without music and sound just as perfect as if she was performing with a band. Nigah-i-Darwaishaan begins with Abida performing in an austere environment, the focus is clearly on the lyrical content of the song (Na khuda maseehtay labda, Na khuda vich kaabay, Na khuda quran kittabaan, Na khuda namazay. Sanu ishq laga hai, pyar da. Sanu pyar da, dildar da. Sanu ishq laga hai pyar da) and eventually the band quietly makes its way into the song — but that was just was the first-half. The second half sees music fusion the way it has never happened in an Abida song before. As the performer is wont to do, she hypnotically repeats lyrical phrases, building up the song to a crescendo — but this time she is accompanied by the house band that follows her performance note-for-note. You find the same intensity in the performance of the house band as you do in Abida Parveen's final performance of the song, till finally when the song has reached its peak she ends it abruptly and absolutely.
More than an emphasis on folk, this episode of Coke Studio 3 (Conception) has spirituality and mysticism as an underlying theme. After the last episode's rather weak overall performance, this line-up was definitely needed. Needless to say with the talents of Meesha Shafi, ADP and Abida Parveen, it was worth experiencing.