Bollywood playback singer Arijit Singh performed live at the Dubai World Trade Centre on the weekend along with 50 musicians, including the Grand Symphony Orchestra from London.
“This is the first time I am performing with so many musicians,” said Singh as he took the stage on Thursday night (January 15). “I don’t know how it’s going to sound and I’m quite nervous. This is an experiment.”
The show could not have been more different from his last concert in Dubai early last year: an unplugged performance with a bare-bones set-up in an intimate setting for a few hundred.
This time, the 4,500-capacity concert was organised by Raging Tiger Events as part of the Dubai Shopping Festival’s 20th anniversary celebrations, and sold out almost a month in advance.
The 28-year-old singer and his ensemble took the stage at 9.40pm and kept the crowd enthralled for three full hours, with just one short break halfway through.
Singh started with his ever popular Muskurane Ki Wajha from Citylights, and continued with a selection of his soulful hits: Laal Ishq, Chahu Mai Ya Na and Jo Bheji Thi Dua.
The 26-piece classical orchestra kicked in with Har Kisi Ko Nahi Milta – a recent remake of the original super hit from the 1986 film Jaanbaaz. Classical instruments took Singh's rendition of the song to the next level. He held his ground with a surprisingly different version of his super hit Aaj Phir Tum Pe Pyar Aaya Hai – another remake of an old classic, this time from 1988's Dayavan. Singh's mellow and poignant delivery of this superhit brought the house down.
He continued with a few more of his own chartbusters (Mai Rang Sharabto Ka, Kabhi Jo Badal Barse, Mohabbat Barsa Do) before returning to cover mode. The audience's reaction to the first few strains of Atif Aslam's Woh Lamhe was probably all the encouragement Singh needed to belt out more Aslam hits, including O Jaane Jaan, Tu Jaane Na and Juda Ho Ke Bhi.
Other covers he performed included Tu Hi Meri Shab Hai (originally sung by K K for Gangster), Ru Baru (A R Rahman for Rang De Basanti), Akhiya Jo Hanju (Ayushmann Khurrana for Vicky Donor), Laagi Tum Se Man Ki Lagan and Deewani by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, and Mae Ri by Euphoria.
His best-received cover, though, was of the 1993 cult classic Pehla Nasha from Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander, originally sung by Udit Narayan and – from the reaction of the crowd – a fast favourite even now.
Singh closed the show with his most popular song Tum Hi Ho from Aashiqui 2, which won him 26 Best Singer nominations and 14 awards, and was his ticket to the fame he enjoys today.