‘Mere zyaada romantic ghanaye hain’ (I have more romantic songs), is what Rahat Fateh Ali Khan stated while interacting with the audience at the O2 on August 14th. And it was the romantic notes and tones of the saxophone and table that captivated the audience for over three and a half hours as Khan took to the stage as part of his world tour. Following in his uncle Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s footsteps, his one-night-only performance opened to a full house with a tribute to him with ‘Koi Toh Hai’ and ‘Tu Na Jaane Aas Paas Hai Khudha’. But there was a difference. Gone was the traditional sherwani and the traditional Qawwali setup. In its place were a suited and booted Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and a setup akin to a Jazz band. He was ‘trying something new and different’. And different it was. What followed were some of his greatest hits with a jazz twist including ‘O Re Piya’ (Aaja Nachle), ‘Surili Akhiyon Wale’ (Veer) and a dedication to his wife with ‘Tenu Samjhawan Ki’. The first half hour or so saw most of my favourite songs being performed back to back.
To say I was happy would be an understatement.
Dealing with song requests between songs from the audience, Rahat smiled as he said ‘yeh to trailer hai, picture abhi baaki hai’.
And he wasn’t lying. Moving on to a fusion of Jazz and Qawwali with ‘Yaadein Vicherey’ and ‘Kissi Da Yaar Na Beechereye’, the audience was putty in his hand as his voice captured the audience’s hearts and got them clapping and cheering at the start of every song and a standing ovation at the end of every song.
As Khan made his way through a catalogue of his Bollywood hits and Qawwalis made famous by his uncle, his voice exuded nothing but power and passion with which he was able to transport the audience to a moment where it was them and just pure music, moving them to a point where they danced in their seats and the aisles to a Jazz version of ‘Kinna Sona’ which I would put up there with the Bally Sagoo’s Bhangra remix.
A five minute break for a costume change, Noreen Khan from BBC Asian took to the stage and invited music producer Naughty Boy (Shahid Khan), who mentioned he had recently collaborated with Khan on a new track, which would be releasing as a part of his new album around Christmas. He also mentioned that he was interested in a tribute concert next year for Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan with Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, as well as expressing an interest in working with Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle.
Costume change over, a traditionally attired Khan was invited back to take centre stage to a now more traditionally qawwali setup. Opening the second set with ‘Dillagi’ and ‘Dagaabaaz Re’ (Dabangg 2) he shifted track to a faster track with ‘Dil Mera Dole’. He continued his ‘Main event’ with classics such as ‘Halka Halka Suroor’, Hindi film hits Tum Jo Aaye (Once Upon A Time In Mumbai), ‘Teri Meri’ (Bodyguard) to a finale with ‘Mast Qalander’. By this point it is safe to say that the crowd controllers defiantly earned their money as the audience took to their feet.
With a body of work that speaks volumes, what can I add that has not already been said about Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. The standing ovations, the cheers, the applause, the dancing say it all. The atmosphere created by Khan and his musicians was nothing short of magical.
I always had a regret that I never got to see Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan perform live. After hearing Rahat perform live I honestly only wonder how amazing Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan was, I am certain of one thing however, Rahat on Sunday done his uncle proud.
4.5 out of 5 stars