The residents of Qatar were enthralled by the electrifyingly passionate music of Junoon, a Pakistani rock band of international fame, in a scintillating atmosphere at Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC) over the weekend.
The spirited members of the band, who recently reunited after a long time, entertained the lovers of the pop music, primarily from the South Asian countries, for two hours. The band sang their all-time popular singles and the newly hit songs leading music lovers in a sort of frenzy.
The reunified force of Ali Azmat, vocalist, Salman Ahmad, guitarist, and Brian O’Connell, bassist, was well-received by the expatriates almost after 17 years. The rocking musical event was also attended by Syed Ahsan Raza Shah, Ambassador of Pakistan to Qatar, officials of the Pakistani embassy, and officials from Qatar National Tourism Council (QNTC).
The concert – PK Music Fest Season II – was presented by Rahmodus, an events company, under the fourth edition of Shop Qatar sponsored by QNTC, Qatar Airways, Mondrian Doha and supported by Q-Tickets. Last year, the organisers brought Strings, another pop music band from Pakistan, along with two other prominent singers – Ali Sethi and Quratulain Balouch.
Junoon, which literally translated into passion, kick started their rendezvous with khudia (selflessness) Sufi (mystic) song written by Dr Muhammad Iqbal, a famous Urdu and Persian poet and thinker. After lifting the spirit of the gathering who waited anxiously for the start of the show, the band sang their iconic single Dosti (friendship) that was aptly linked by Salman with Pakistan and Qatar’s friendship. Just before starting the song, Salman appreciated the brotherly ties between the two nations and applauded the role Pakistani expatriates were playing in development and progress of Qatar.
Saeein Tu Hi Mera Sacha Saeein Tu Hai, the evergreen song of the band set the tone of the concert with stirring sound of Salman’s guitar. The high-pitched voice of Ali Azmat sent heart-throbbing weaves in the auditorium. Ghoom Charakhra, another popular single by the band, added more energy in the already buoyant crowd.
The band, whose members got reunited after a long time in 2018, also brought in a nostalgic strain for the listeners. Their song Chalay Thay Saath kind of shed light on their journey since they all started together in 1991. They also sang Dil Dil Pakistan, a patriotic song by another band Vital Sings, to remember late Junaid Jamshed, who died on December 7, 2016 in a plane crash.
The concert proved to be a resounding success as people kept listening and enjoying the rocking music till the end. The band sang all their popular songs and new compositions. The people at the fan zone told the real story as young boys and girls jumped to the tunes of the band.
“I grew up listening to different pop music bands in Pakistan but I loved Junoon the most. They cheered and energised the youth during 1990s with their passionate songs. I am happy to see their reunion after a long time. We have already witnessed how popular they are with a recent concert in Karachi,” said Shehrya Ahmed, who hails from Karachi and has been living and working in Qatar for six years.
“I have come to the concert with my family. We have been waiting for the band anxiously as it has been a long time that we have not attended their live concert. They came to Qatar after 17 years. I am happy to see them together. I am sad at the same time as they are no more young boys. We really enjoyed the glittering and lively atmosphere where people enjoyed the show with no trouble at all.”
Sharing his feelings Mirza Shahnawaz, an Indian expatriate, said: “I came for entertainment and I got it in plenty. I just wanted to listen to the rock music as Junoon is a very famous band. As their name suggests, they carry real passion and the audience seemed to be obsessed with the passion for Junoon.”
Mirza, who has been living in Qatar since 2006, added: “I particularly enjoyed the atmosphere and the lyrics of the band. I am extremely happy that we get such kind of entertainment opportunities in Qatar.”
Junoon is Pakistan’s and one of South Asia’s most successful bands; the Q magazine regarded them as “One of the biggest bands in the world” and The New York Times called Junoon “the U2 of Pakistan”. Since their inception, the group has released a collective total of 19 albums: seven studio albums; one soundtrack; two live albums; four video albums; and five compilations. They have sold over 30 million copies worldwide.
Pioneers of Sufi rock with an original sound, they achieved success during the early 1990s. Its members were signed to major record label EMI Records and afterwards released their self-titled debut album Junoon in 1991. After two years, the band recorded their second album Talaash (1993) with their new bassist Brian O’Connell after Nusrat Hussain left the band.
The release of their second album began to create a cult following for the band. In 1996, Junoon released their third album Inquilaab, and it was only then that Junoon developed a nationwide fan following, with blending rock guitars and bluesy vocals with eastern elements like the use of tablas, raga-inspired melodies, traditional Pakistani folk music, and eastern-inspired poetry. The following year, the band recorded the critically acclaimed Azadi (1997), being the band’s first international record deal, and making it Junoon’s debut album in neighbouring India.
The band went on to record and release Parvaaz in 1999. The band found renewed success and popularity starting with 2001’s Andaz and through 2003’s Dewaar and their supporting tours. Junoon celebrated their 25th anniversary by releasing their eighth studio album titled Door in 2016.
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