Coke Studio S03E01 – Reason (Episode Review)

By Atif Azhar Meer

Coke Studio Season 3 Episode 1 Reason

In the summer of 08 , we got one of the most finest TV productions from COKE. The first season of Coke Studio was a great success both among the masses and the critics. It was a great production, very esthetically designed artwork : the set and the lights, a great house band featuring very fine musicians and above all, a great producer, Mr. Rohail Hyatt at his best. Since then, Coke studio has come a long way. In summer 09, the second season of Coke Studio was launched. It was even better in almost all aspects. One thing I will like to mention here, that we should all feel very proud of the fact that we have achieved something very big in the form of Coke Studio. Recording Live music is not an easy task. It’s a lot of hard work.

Today, on the 6th of June, 2010, the first episode of Coke Studio’s yet another glorious return was aired on TV.  Yes, welcome to Coke Studio – Season III.

Many of us being hardcore CS fans, already knew from the promos and all that the episode was going to feature Abida Perveen, Zeb and Haniya, Karavan, Arieb Azhar and Arif Lohar with Meesha Shafi. The house band this year is almost the same as last year with a few new artists like Sikandar Mufti on percussions and Zoe Viccaji and Sanam Saeed on Backing Vocals.

The first act of the very first episode of Season III was Arieb Azhar. It was a treat to watch. I have always admired Arieb Azhar. He is a person with incredible talent and a great human being. The house band was at its best. Gumby – as usual was top notch. I loved the arpeggios’ in the solo played by Omran Shafique. The backing vocals were also quite impressive. The recitation of Bullay Shah’s kalam was spell bounding. Arieb’s voice complemented the Kalaam. I would like to sum it up in just three words: subterranean, soulful, Spell bounding.

It was the one and only Abida Perveen after Arieb Azhar. I have nothing to say about the performance. I consider myself too amateurish to talk about Abida Perveen. Just saying that it was a good, nice or breathtaking performance will not do justice.  It was very soulful. The house band also did justice.

Arif Lohar and Meesha Shafi followed the performance of Abida Perveen. It was the famous Jugni. It was a very groovy, smooth act. As we all know, Arif Lohar is a powerhouse performer, he proved himself once again there. He went all smooth with the house band. To be honest, I didn’t expect much from Meesha Shafi, but she totally proved me wrong. She did a great job. Her tone was fabulous. All in all, a very nice performance. And I would like to add here, It was Asad Ahmad’s groovy licks all along that made the act so fun. Thumbs up for him.

I feel very bad writing it but I was really disappointed by Karavan’s act. I was waiting a lot to see them finally with some action from their new album. But it didn’t do enough for me. Yaadain – The song they played, was a very average composition in my view. The song also didn’t have great signature guitar parts, which I was expecting a lot from Asad Ahmad, maybe we get to listen them on the record. It was lacking the flavor I was looking for, from the pioneers of Rock Music in Pakistan. I was expecting a lot from the all seasoned Karavan.

Next were the Jazz and Blues duo Zeb and Haniya. A great Funky performance, I must say. A great composition. Zeb’s jazzy vocal tone was complementing the composition and arrangement. The intro lick from Haniya was very impressive and catchy. As they are almost the only musicians working on some serious Jazz and funk stuff in Pakistan, I guess its something we all should praise.  The house band was exceptional in the song. Great Funky drums , Groovy guitar licks and bass and some very nice percussions by Sikandar Mufti. And above all, the rubab was magical.

That was all about the first episode of Season III. It was a nice experience but I guess we will get more sensational performances in the coming episodes. I am sure all you people are looking forward to them J don’t you ?

I’ll like to share another thought here. When the House Band of Season III was announced , I was a little disappointed. Now I don’t want people to get mad on me for saying it J , I love all the players in the house band , all of them are great at their instruments. But the disappointment for me was to see all the same line up, well almost, again there. Omran Shafique is a great guitar player, infact a lot of inspiration for me to play Reggae and Ska myself. I love Mauj and Co-ven, love his work for Ali Azmat , Zeb and Haniya and Maryam Kizilibash. But having said that, I guess we are forgetting some great guitar players we have in Pakistan. Aamir Zaki being a tremendously creative guitar player for example. Or Faraz Anwar for instance. I would have jumped with excitement if they were featured in this season. Same goes for the tremendous talent of Bass Players we have in Pakistan. So, the thing is that we have a lot of talent and all of them should be given at least a chance to come and add their individual flavor to this great venture. Having said all that, it was a treat to finally see the first episode of Season III, It was a great work and should be appreciated. Thumbs up for the whole team.