After months of anticipation, Khumariyaan – a folk-rock band from Peshawar – took to the stage on the opening weekend of Alchemy, and promptly brought the house down.
Alchemy is one of London’s most exciting festivals of South Asian arts, and Funoon were delighted to present Khumariyaan in their first ever UK performance there.
They started off with the sure-fire Bela, and then presented two collaborations with British singer Sabiyha, one of which was a beautiful rendition of House of the Rising Sun. True to their signature performance style, the tempo accelerated as the concert went on, with the band performed rousing, extended versions of their hits Tamasha, Zwangeer and Surr Mangay.
It was an evening of beautiful, uplifting, electrifying music, played to a packed audience of young and old, Pashtuns and non-, who clapped and cheered and danced the night through. Khumariyaan are magnificent live, and their generosity in engaging with the audience made the evening what it was.
For us at Funoon, the concert exemplified our most ambitious aspirations – HUGELY talented performers; a rollicking good party; an incredibly diverse audience of people from all backgrounds, ages and levels of cultural engagement; and artists and a state of the art venue singularly focussed on including as many as possible in the experience. What a night!!
Most gratifying though was how the music brought the audience together – with strangers dancing, engaging, connecting with one another. Khumariyaan are often asked what role their music plays in responding to the violence affecting their home city – the answer is that it cuts through cynical political rhetoric and division, speaks to the heart and the sense of beauty that lives within us, and reminds us what makes us human. And it’s not just Peshawar that needs that.
See for yourself on our Facebook live stream, which was watched by thousands.
Sparlay Rawail, guitarist with the band said later: “We couldn’t have asked for a better UK debut. The love and excitement with which we were received by the audience was wonderful. And their open-mindedness in coming to see us in such numbers – not just Pashtuns but people from so many different backgrounds – we salute that. It was every musician’s dream.”
Twitter was abuzz too – and some of the tweets show what Khumariyaan meant to the audience:
— Ted Hodgkinson (@TeditorTed) May 20, 2017
— Catriona Luke (@MsBodhiTree) May 21, 2017
— Sophie Hemery (@SophieHemery) May 20, 2017
— mehrunnisa yusuf (@comeconella) May 21, 2017
— Scott Chaussée (@S_Chaussee) May 20, 2017
And if you can’t get enough, here are some photos.
By Seema Khan.
Posted on 25 May 2017
Top photo by Rida Bilgrami. Second photo by Hamza Ahmed.