Karachi can't stop this thing Bryan's started
By Zein Basravi
Photos by Akhtar Soomro
KARACHI: Canada's iconic musical export Bryan Adams broke barriers Sunday performing to upwards of 10,000 screaming fans at the Arabian Sea Country Club in a benefit concert for the Zindagi Trust's education initiative for underprivileged children.
Suffering a longstanding reputation of instability and violence, Karachi has never seen a performer of Adams' stature walk through its doors and event organizers hope Sunday's show will open Pakistan's market to more internationally acclaimed performers with crowd-pulling power.
"Bryan people really love you in Pakistan, they really love you," said singer and opening act Shehzad Roy at a press conference before the show. "Let's rock, music rules and Allah willing, we've conveyed this message to the world that Pakistan is not unsafe."
While refraining from giving autographs at the press conference, Adams gave all on stage, graciously inviting the comparatively green Roy to join him in singing 'A night to remember' and the crowd-pleasing classic 'Summer of 69'
An even greener audience member enjoyed the once-in-a-lifetime chance to sing a duet with Adams, belting out lyrics to 'Baby when you're gone' with euphoric abandon as Adams reminded her to sing into the microphone.
"From my point of view, this is by far the best concert or event that Karachi has ever produced," said Mahgul Jawed, creative group head for Conquest Advertising, a division of WPP marketing. "Everyone was so welcoming and so accepting and the security was so good...the organization overall was excellent."
Adams drew people from all walks of Karachi's streets; young air-guitarists were packed tight near the stage as veiled aunties enjoyed comfortable seating arrangements further back.
Crowds chanting "We want more" brought Adams back for four encores and he ended the evening saying, "I hope this was the future for many, many concerts in Pakistan".
While this was Adams' first visit to Pakistan, the Asian market has been a big one for him and for boot-legged copies of his music. "I've been probably one of the most boot-legged artists ever," Adams said. "It's just another way of getting music that is wanted by the people to the people and now you can just download from the internet, so it might be different times now for musicians."
As well as performing at the show, Roy is the president of the Zindagi Trust foundation. Sunday's show helped raise funds for the "I am paid to learn" program that offers children financial support at 21 schools across the country.
Zein Basravi is a freelance journalist affiliated with CNN in London. He is in Pakistan this month for some projects