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Faisal and Bilal performing at the Lahore Gymkhana, incidentally around their 25 years in Pakistani music.

Faisal and Bilal performing at the Lahore Gymkhana, incidentally around their 25 years in music.

After watching another episode of Pakistan Idol, merely two days after experiencing Strings live in concert in Lahore, I couldn’t help but wonder: could there be a new music legend lurking in these auditions? At this point it doesn’t seem so.

And after hearing Strings live, it doesn’t seem like there can ever be anyone like them again. The kind of maturity their music has achieved is magnetic; those hit songs are now considered classic and unforgettable. The concert was a raving success and the crowd – apparently conservative and reserved at first – was hooked onto one hit after the other and had jumped off their seats by the end of the evening.

Aap beth kar concert sunte hain?” Faisal urged the younger audience next to the stage to get up and move a little. And they did, despite it (apparently) being against the Gymkhana rules. Some elderly fans sat down and swayed their hands in the air, but the front liners started dancing like there was no tomorrow. And that was the right way to enjoy the concert!

From Dhaani, Duur, Sohniye, Sar Kiye Yeh Pahaar to Zinda and every hit song from their albums, Strings enthralled the fans for two hours but the cherry on the cake was the montage that they presented to the Pakistani pop industry at the very end. It was a way to thank their contemporaries and it was such a good idea, perfect to celebrate their 25 years in Pakistan’s music industry. What a feat!

They honoured Nazia Hasan with Disco Deewane, Alamgir with Keh Deyna, Sajad Ali’s Bolo Bolo, Junoon with Neend Aati Naheen, Vital Signs ka Tum Door They, Ali Haider with Purani Jeans, Zohaib Hassan’s Aye Dil Meray Chal Re and finally Abida Parveen’s Laal Meri. Can you imagine how enchanting this sequence was. And just as the clock turned midnight, they announced that Pakistan had won the match against Sri Lanka and paid tribute with their World Cup hit, Hai Koi Hum Jaisa. And the crowd went crazy.

It’s a pity that concerts do not take place in public arenas anymore, because the kind of joy you get from even a two hour live concert is incomparable to the closed door ceremonies we’re used to now. I guess we have to be thankful that these private concerts at least manage to keep the rhythm rolling. I was quite delighted to see Strings’ groupies hound and stalk the stage after the concert concluded; the craze is still alive! Let’s hope the government can control the civic situation and music can once again delight the masses and not just a select few.

“Ik din toh aye ga jab aisa ho ga Pakistan…mein toh dekhonga.”


I managed to catch up with Faisal and Bilal after the concert and was reassured that they are still touring and continuing their music journey. We may not see them at Coke Studio this year but we will see them live in concert…and what could be better?

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