The Hong Kong Tour was fantastic. We never thought we’d be playing there.”
-Atif Aslam talks about his gig in Hong Kong

Shahzeb Shaikh
As I greeted Atif home after his return from Bali tour, in came another surprise, “I am flying down to Hong Kong,” he said. “This would be for the first time a Pakistani is performing there,” he added. Rightly so, places such as Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia where language barrier exists, it’s almost impossible for even English artists to penetrate such markets. But Atif remains an exception.
Once back from the Asian country, Atif gave us details. An excited Atif commenced the discussion saying, “The Hong Kong Tour was fantastic. We never thought we’d be playing there. It was completely unusual and an alien place for all of us. Just landing there and experiencing a language barrier was a cultural shock itself.”
I was most excited to know how the people in the crowd responded to his music. He replied in a merry tone, “The people were extremely welcoming. I remember having a sound check the very next day and the organizer came up to and said to me that the audience in Hong Kong isn’t very energetic. I didn’t respond to her then and by the grace of God on the day of the show, all the audience members were standing. After the show the organizer came up to and said that in the history of all our shows, the audience has never been so energetic,” and added, “Everybody in the audience was standing, including the people in the front row which included politicians, immigrations officers, a person from Pakistan consulate etc.”
The show was a rocking affair. The hall was packed with about 2000 people; 40 per cent people were Pakistani and the rest were locals. The hall had many rules – audience members weren’t allowed to stand up, if they do, fire hazards will be turned on, the hall’s lights would be dimmed and the sound system will be turned off. Despite these rules, the concert was well organized, the crowd was organized and the hall management decided to let loose and let the crowd have fun. Atif performed many singles including a cover of ‘Billie Jean’ Jean/Wasta Pyar Da’. People responded to it very well. He played his whole set including ‘Doorie’, ‘Tu Jane Na’, ‘Woh Lamhe’ etc.
Reminiscing the post-concert session, he shared, “We had an autograph session after the concert and a couple of Chinese people came up to me too. They said even if they didn’t understand what I sang; they still really enjoyed my music and promised to follow it.”
Like always, I inquired of him as to why he thought that he was invited to such an unusual place for a Pakistani artist. Was it the Indian mantra?” People in China were more familiar with my Indian music. The Pakistani fans were familiar with Kinara, Coke Studio, etc,” he said.
Atif Aslam is a true music lover and is always in the hunt of new stuff relating to music such new genres, native instruments etc. He makes it a point to learn about music of places he visits. When asked what he investigated about the Chinese music he replied, “I don’t know much about Chinese music, but I know about some instrument players. I know their music is based on their own tones and sounds. Interestingly, he managed to get a hold of a local instrument. He shared the story. “A friend of mine bought me an instrument called ‘pipa’. It’s a Chinese string instrument that sounds like a rubab but certainly very different and unique. I have only seen Chinese people playing and no one in Pakistan has ever played it before. I plan to use it in my concerts.”
I am definitely looking forward to his using the instrument in his music.
When asked about the most memorable incident of the one-day tour, he delightedly recalled, “Hong Kong is known for not inviting artists again after they’ve performed once but it was different for us because my manager got five to six offers the very day of the concert and we’ll surely be going back soon.”
Since Coke Studio have been the most talked about event in the recent times, it was surprising that the country’s most wanted pop-rock star was not a party to it. In fact, a poll was held recently that showed that Atif was the most anticipated artist in Coke Studio. When inquired of the reason of his non-participation, Atif eloquently replied, “I was approached this season as well but I declined because I was very busy this time around and also because it didn’t interest me too much because I thought Season 2 and 3 sounded very much alike.”
SOURCE = Instep Today

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