Updated Aug 27, 2015 11:50am

Raahi's message to Karachi: The music is still alive

The band performed with surprise guest Wren Elahi. - Photo courtesy: Raahi
The band performed with surprise guest Wren Elahi. - Photo courtesy: Raahi

The much anticipated performance by renowned musicians of Pakistan’s music scene – Omran Shafique, Sameer Ahmed and Gumby – which took place on Friday night at a dimly lit The Second Floor (T2F), left the audience in unmitigated rapture.

Bassist Sameer Ahmed, who spent years with the band Karavan in the 90s; drummer Gumby, the official drummer of Noori; and lead guitarist Omran Shafique, the front-man of early 2000s band Mauj that didn’t need Facebook to go viral in Pakistan – all came together to present their new venture called Raahi. The trio was accompanied by Ahsan Bari on vocals who has been making waves in Karachi through his band Sounds of Kolachi.

The show kicked off with an original, followed by a cover of Vital Signs’ ‘Teray Liyay’, which immediately set the mood for the evening.

Raahi’s funky classic rock rendition of the song had the audience cheering and singing along. The real treat was Wren Elhai, the surprise guest for the evening, who accompanied the band throughout its set with an electric violin. This addition truly accentuated Raahi’s sound and subtly added to the band’s signature style.

The list of covers Raahi performed also include songs such as Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’, Sajjad Ali’s ‘Teri Yaad’, Lead Belly’s ‘Where Did You Sleep Last Night’ (made popular by Kurt Cobain) and A.R Rahman’s ‘Tu Hi Re’.

The band managed to keep the audience intrigued. - Photo by author.
The band managed to keep the audience intrigued. - Photo by author.

The band managed to keep the audience captivated by not restricting their sound to just one mere genre.

Raahi’s renditions of all these covers experimented with a range of different styles. Wren Elhai took over the vocals for ‘Hallelujah’ and ‘Where Did You Sleep Last Night’ with a slight flair of blues and mellow undertones, whereas Ahsan Bari’s expert Eastern classical vocals in the rest of the songs – including originals – managed to provide the audience with variety.

Raahi’s selection of songs proved to be wisely picked, as there was one song or another every member of the audience was able to sing along with.

The highlight of the gig was the band’s electrifying cover of ‘Tere Ishq Main Jo Doob Gaya' after which the audience was unable contain their cheers and acclamation, to which Ahsan Bari joked, “Let us finish our set list first, there’s more.”

Since this was Raahi’s debut gig, the band didn’t hesitate to introduce us to their originals. The purpose of last night’s show was not to just give the people of Karachi something to do on a Friday night, but to inform us that a new band is on the block to place a refreshing dent on what we are used to hearing.

Like the covers, the originals also don’t subscribe to a specific genre and each song brings something new to the table. Hence, using one genre to describe the band would not do justice to Raahi’s sound.

Gumby, Ahsan Bari, Omran Shafique and Sameer Ahmed. - Photo courtesy: Raahi
Gumby, Ahsan Bari, Omran Shafique and Sameer Ahmed. - Photo courtesy: Raahi

What made the gig a memorable experience was being able to watch Gumby, Omran and Sameer play live – leaving music fans with a sense of hope that the art is still alive somewhere in this city. Omran and Wren’s captivating solos coupled with Sameer’s rhythmic bass lines, Gumby’s exhilarating drumming patterns alongside Ahsan’s powerful vocals and the band proved their chemistry with each other reverberates a sense of perfection.

Considering Gumby, Sameer and Omran three of these musicians played a very vital role in our music industry’s progress in the past, their effort to collaborate with relatively newer musicians to give the audience something new to look forward to on the local music front is praiseworthy.

Raahi’s upcoming projects include a music video and an independent album release. The manner in which their live performance brought the audience back to life last night, it is hard not to feel that this band might just revive the live music scene in Karachi again.

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