Songs performed by the Lahori Blues from Pakistan transcended language, borders and essence
Paimona, written in Farsi and Pashtun is a century old Dari folk song, first sung in the royal courts of the Afghanistan's king Zahir Shah, later travelled to the neighbouring borders. The soft and melancholic notes of the song transported its listeners to a distant time while the upbeats added a new rhythm. The very popular musical duo from Pakistan, Zeb and Haniya of the Lahori Blues gave their debut performance in the city as they led the eager audience from soulful depths to euphoric highs.
Reviving the long forgotten folk tunes of Dari and Pushto with elements of Turkish and Sufi music in perfect harmony with the beats of jazz and the blues, it is difficult to pinpoint what exactly makes their compositions so popular. While it evoked a sense of nostalgia among the senior listeners, the youth grooved, hooted and demanded more.
Amidst loud cheers, the Lahori Blues began their performance with Chup, which is incidentally, their first single track which went viral online. After a tribute to legendary music composer O.P. Nayyar with Dil mein kahin mujhe chupa lo, the next song Aitbaar had the groovy rhythms of the blues. Their rendition of theNight songfrom their unreleased album began with a melancholic soprano style heavily influenced by drum beats by Kami Paul. A Afghani pop song Laili Jaan was introduced beautifully by flautist Muhammad Ahsan. A poem Kal toh suraj niklega by Zehra Nigah, a poet born in pre-partition Hyderabad, and a song by the 70s Turkish star Baris Mancho rendered by the band had the old world charm and captured the hearts of the local audience.
After moving the audience with their reflective numbers, they delved into their popular works likeChal diyewhich was penned by Haniya as a tribute to the city of Islamabad where she grew up. “We grew up listening to Paimona and owning it without knowing the language,” said Zeb before starting the song much to the delight of the audience. They ended their concert on a high note with a stupendous rendition of their most popular songs Rona chor diya which they called the ‘emancipation anthem' and Afghan folk song Bibi sanam janem. However, on popular demand it was moving notes of Paimona that left the audience wishing that the concert would just go on.
The synchronised jugalbandi between the band and the audience, the back stage adulation by the fans and the songs that transcended borders makes you wonder why the cross border tension cannot be solved by the power of music. The Lahori Blues were in Hyderabad as part of The Hindu Friday Review November Fest 2011. The band comprises Zeb Bangash as the lead vocalist, Haniya Aslam on rhythm guitar and vocals, Muhammed Ahsan on the flute, Amir Azhar on lead guitar, bassist Sameer Ahmed and Kami Paul on multi-percussion.