Coke Studio Live in Dubai: Ali Sethi and Faisal Kapadia steal the show

Artists from the famed Pakistan TV series descend on the city for the first time for a high-energy night of music

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Thousands of eager fans packed into the Coca-Cola Arena to watch the first Coke Studio Live in Dubai on Friday.

The line-up featured artists from the latest season of TV and internet show Coke Studio, which has been hugely popular across the Indian subcontinent.

The concert started almost an hour late, but the energetic, albeit brief, performances more than made up for the wait.

Norwegian viral dance group Quick Style opened the show with a bang, but only performed on two songs — one of which was Kana Yaari, a popular track from Season 14 of Coke Studio.

A slick Hasan Raheem took the stage next, along with musical duo Justin Bibis for a performance of their funky electro song Peechay Hutt — which unfortunately wasn't as smooth. While the Bibis were pitch perfect, Raheem's singing was a bit jarring and came across rather shrill. It stayed that way for the rest of his performance. It was disappointing, given how Raheem's career is on the up in the Pakistani music scene.

Another jarring moment came from alternative rock band Karakoram, whose opener Toofaan, while popular, felt a bit out of place in keeping with the tone with the concert. However, their rendition of their Coke Studio hit Ye Dunya certainly left many in the audience smiling.

The Young Stunners, though fairly new, made an impression with their song Gumaan, and were particularly fun to watch with Faisal Kapadia.

Kapadia, who was a part of the hugely popular Pakistani band Strings, was the ultimate rock star on stage — and looked the part, too, in his leather jacket, dark glasses and long hair. A performance of Phir Milenge from the latest season of Coke Studio with the Young Stunners was followed by stellar solo performances of his old band's popular hits Dhaani and Duur.

A surprise act came in the form of Zulfiqar "Xulfi" Jabbar Khan, the producer behind the massive success of season 14 of Coke Studio, who had the audience singing along to Laree Choote by Pakistani band Call.

But the mood completely changed when Ali Sethi, the artist the audience had been waiting for all evening, took the stage.

Starting with soulful, heartfelt and beautiful renditions of some of his popular songs — Ishq, Chan Kithan and Chandni Raat — he then moved on to the grand finale of the night — Pasoori. The song, which has proved to be the biggest success of the season, has been viewed 409 million times on YouTube, and features rising star Shae Gill, who joined him on stage to perform it.

Dressed in their outfits from the song's video, the artists performed the track twice, bringing all the other stars of the night, as well as the crew, on stage to end on a high.

The artists of Coke Studio gave fans a memorable night, though not always for the right reasons. It was a feat in itself to have a show with so many artists packed in to so little time — one hour and 20 minutes to be precise.

However, though it may have been short, it was certainly sweet. For the most part.

Updated: October 15, 2022, 6:40 AM
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