By Mudassir Raja
As the most prolific bands of our time, it’s perhaps not surprising that there was a public celebration planned for this milestone in their unfathomable career; 30 years of Strings. Strings is internationally acclaimed Pakistani pop rock band composed of two members, plus four live band members from Karachi. The band was initially formed by four college students – Bilal Maqsood (vocals and guitars), Faisal Kapadia (vocals), Rafiq Wazir Ali (synthesiser) and Kareem Bashir Bhoy (bass guitar) – in 1988. Along the way of blueprinting pop rock in Pakistan via their signature sound and inimitable body of work, the band disbanded in 1992. But, after a hiatus of eight years, Kapadia and Bilal together made a comeback later in 2000 to usher a revival of Pakistani music industry.
Strings recently caterwauled Doha for its three decades of success along will two other prominent Pakistani singers, including Quratulain Balouch, better known as QB, and Ali Sethi at Al Mayasa Auditorium Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC), as a part of the ongoing third edition of Shop Qatar festival.
To those of us who grew up with Strings as a constant barometer for the zeitgeist, they know that Strings’ professional existence has never been marked by anything banal. No one today wants to go to a Strings concert and not enjoy the live performance featuring Sajni and Urr Jaun. They know it and it’s their greatest ammunition.
All charged up in the glittering atmosphere, the attendees were mainly from Pakistani expatriate community and they danced and danced on the live performances. There was nothing and nobody to stop them to enjoy the live performances of their favourite singers, all at one place.
The marathon concert, PK Music Fest, was organised by QTickets. The concert kicked off with Ali’s performance featuring cover tracks of old songs and some classic original singles, which was followed up by QB’s sensational voice that took the audience by storm. Opening her performance with her track Woh Humsafar Tha, the OST of drama serial Humsafar (2011) that propelled her into the limelight and fame. QB moved to her other soundtracks, including Saaiyan, Tere Naal Mein Laiyan, Mera Ishq and Humsafar, She also transitioned into more desi songs and maintained the charged atmosphere for the concert’s duration, till Strings took over the stage.
Bilal Maqsood and Faisal Kapadia performed live on stage after four years as they told the audience. Faisal said that he was excited to see the response of the gathering. They sang soundtracks from their upcoming album 30 that includes six singles along with their ever green sound tracks. It won’t be erroneous to say that Strings is one of the best pop bands from Pakistan with a huge following in India as well. Spider Man soundtrack was composed and played by them. They have quite some Indian Bollywood soundtracks to their credit as well. They successfully ran the Coke Studio franchise in Pakistan and increased the fan base along with the introduction of new names in the music industry.
Ali Sethi is globally recognised for his first published novel, The Wish Maker. The book was short-listed for DSC Prize for South Asian Literature and the Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize Award. Sethi has written several columns for New York Times, The New Yorker, The Caravan, and The Friday Times as well. In 2013, he shifted his focus towards his music career and made his film debut as a singer in The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2013).
Talking to Community, Muhammad Asif Aslam Rao who with his wife Shamila Rao attended the concert, said, “I am from Karachi. I have been a big fan of Strings for a long time. In Qatar, I work in aviation sector. The concert was a wonderful opportunity to listen to Strings live abroad. It was like feeling at home. My wife is a big fan of QB and she came primarily for her performance. She loves Humsafar. We are really thankful to the organisers for organising this concert and taking his down the memory lane.”
Syed Ali Muntazir Rizvi said, “I am also from Karachi and have been in Qatar for many years. I grew up listening to Strings. I have attended almost all of their concerts in Karachi. I’m happy to see them live, again, young and energetic. These boys are going to entertain the music lovers for a long time. My family loves QB and Ali as well as they both are young and energetic with soulful voices.”
Organised by Qatar National Tourism Council, Shop Qatar’s activities offer special offers for the bargain-hunter, the style-savvy and the fashion-forward. Shop Qatar, the country’s only nation-wide shopping festival, brings a host of new features for the residents and the visitors to enjoy until January 20. Besides offering discounts and promotions, the festival’s 14 retail partners will also host exclusive entertainment and roaming mall shows for families and children.
Unique shopping tours at Souq Waqif, fashion-focused events, concerts, and other live performances also await festival-goers and shoppers.
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