An event that had built significant hype over the course of the last few months turned into a deservedly exhilarating evening, transgressing all that was expected of it. The Hall 1 of the Alhamra auditorium was jam-packed right till the very last row of seats, with overwhelmed children and adults alike. A concert that was designed to serve a humanitarian cause drove the shuddering crowd into a state of jubilant frenzy, with upbeat Qawaali and Sufi-rock covers. The massive energy that loomed inside the auditorium could easily be felt all around, syncing well with a relaxed and appreciative ambiance. Every now and then, ecstatic children from the SOS village foundation would randomly jump up in anticipation, howling and screaming for the moment they had all been waiting for: the appearance of Zamad Baig, the first ever Pakistan Idol winner.
Zamad Baig poses with an ecstatic crowd of children
After a warm-hearted welcome address by the concert’s host, Ayesha Sana, the audience was introduced to the founder and president of SOS village, Suraiya Anwar. The exultant crowd receiving her comprised of renowned television artists, philanthropists and humanitarians, with the likes of Qasim Jafri, Saman Gardezi and Daniyal Lashari taking front row seats. This entourage of dedicated professionals was supplemented together with an entire section of the auditorium reserved for the children from SOS village. Zamad made a very modest entrance onto the colorfully-lit stage, although met by a roaring Alhamra audience. He preceded his pitch-perfect performance with an eloquent and moving speech. ‘The entire concept behind my passion for singing was to help those in need’ he said, following with a well-asserted claim of how ‘we fail to be grateful for the things we’ve been given – we need to look at those beneath us and lift them up to their potential’. He was also asked about the overwhelming jubilation he found himself in when being declared the winner of Pakistan Idol, summing up his feelings as ‘something I had never felt before’. Dressed in formal wear with a gelled-back Italian hairstyle, he took to the center of the stage with an amazing calm to his movement, equipping his vocals in tandem with the tempo of the music being played by the other band members.
Zamad Baig with a group of philanthropists
The set list of the concert consisted of tracks that mainly revolved around the Qawaali and Sufi rock genres, introduced primarily by masters of the Pakistani music industry such as Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Junoon. Zamad excitedly narrated his fondness for these songs, and the tremendous attachment he had to them while growing up. All of these arrangements had been previously maneuvered and synchronized by Zamad’s band members, who were all experienced professionals, having been in the field for several years. The first on his number was the beautifully arranged “Allah Hu”, with Zamad’s strong vocals backed up and working well with a palm-muted rhythmic progression on the guitar. He never felt the need to ask the audience to be more enthusiastically active with the singing, seeing how well they picked up and responded to the songs themselves. “Allah Hu” was followed by two more Qawaali-themed renditions, his popular song choices climaxing with Junoon’s ‘Sayonee’. This proved to be a huge success with the adults in the audience, who had by now joined in with the children and begun clapping to the rhythm of the music. Zamad’s heart seemed to be fully engrossed in the heat of the moment, demonstrating his passion to entertain people and make them forget all about their worries through this glorious event. He would follow up his singing with amusing stories from his experiences during Pakistan Idol, resulting in the audience bursting with uncontrollable laughter. In songs such as ‘Teri Deewani’ and ‘Ye Jo Halka Halka Saroor Hai’, Zamad left the stage and sang the remainder of the lyrics together with the children in the audience. The highlight of the night, though, was his parting performance, which was an eight-minute long improvisational medley comprising classic songs by artists such as Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Ali Zafar and Uzair Jaswal, even including the hit single ‘Kabira’ from a recent Bollywood film.
Recognizing the importance of such a large-scale donation concert, Zamad appreciated the turnout and reception, ending his last performance by thanking the audience profusely for their generosity. Ms. Suraiya Anwar requested that Zamad take live photographs with the children, the Lashari family and other philanthropists in the audience, truly marking a sensational end to a resplendent occasion.
(February 20, 2018)
(February 16, 2018)