LONG BEACH, Calif. — Indian and Pakistani superstar singers Sonu Nigam and Atif Aslam joined forces to deliver an electrifying performance here Sept. 18 in a four-hour concert billed as “Sonu and Atif Klose to You,” presented by Stage Paint Productions. The popular duo proved that creativity and art has no boundaries and succeeded in bringing their Indian and Pakistani fans together in great numbers to the Long Beach Arena for a completely sold-out show.
The jam-packed venue was decorated with lighted balls hanging from the ceiling and gigantic media screens flanking either sides of the stage, which was decorated with brilliant, colored lights with changing hues, creating a classy party atmosphere. The audience could sense that this was an extraordinarily huge concert unlike any other they had seen before. The sound system was impeccable, befitting a concert this big.
Manoj Kay Tee of Stage Paint Productions told India-West that the organizers had to delay the starting of the concert even though they and the artists with their bands were ready to start the show on time. The staggering number of cars waiting to enter the parking lot created a traffic jam on the 710 freeway exit ramp and so the organizers had to make concessions to allow the 8,000-plus crowd to enter the venue and take their seats before starting the show.
The sold-out show had Aslam take the stage for the first half with his band. As the band played in high tempo and the lights dimmed, the Pakistani host, Ahmed Godil, welcomed Aslam onto the stage. Dressed in a black leather jacket and black pants, the dashing and handsome Aslam started the show with his chartbuster song, “Doorie Saha Jaaye Na,” to thunderous applause. He followed it up with his Bollywood chartbusters, “Jeene Lagaa Hoon Pehle Se Zyada,” “Tera Hone Lagaa Hoon, Jabse Mila Hoon,” “O Re Piya,” “Mein Rang Sharbaton Ka,” “Jiya Re Jiya,” and many more to the audience’s delight. He brought the crowd to their feet and near to the stage to interact with him as belted out the foot-tapper Sufi song, “Damaa Dam Mast Kalandar.”
Aslam displayed his vocal command when he sang a ghazal softly in Mehdi Hasan style alternating with his high octave vocals. Displaying his humility, he thanked his fans for their love and affection and making him a star singer. The singer also showcased his guitar playing skills, strumming the guitar while singing “Tere Sang Yaara Kush Rang Bahara” and “Karam Kudai Ka,” while acknowledging the crowd — many from the Indian American community —who wanted more of him. Finally, before leaving the stage, he introduced Sonu Nigam to the audience as a ‘Living Legend’.
During the brief intermission, the orchestra band changed and as the brilliant stage lights flashed and dancers shimmered in glittering costumes, Sonu Nigam, dressed in a red kurta and dhoti-style pyjama, came onto the stage with great fanfare. From the get-go, Nigam owned the stage and showed that he is not only a great singer but also a complete performer and an entertainer. When he sang the patriotic “Rang De Basanti” with the Indian flag colors lighting up the stage, the crowd was driven into a frenzy. He followed it up with the romantic melody, “Teri Haath Mein Mera Haath Ho.” He then sang a medley of old hits like “Mere Sapno Ki Rani,” “Bol Radha Bol Sangam,” “Bachna Yeh Haseeno,” and “Hum Hai Rahi Pyar Ki,” amongst others.
Teasing the audience with “Just Chill” by inviting them to sing with him, soon the crowd was eating out of his hands. He went on to sing his most popular songs, “Saathiya” and “Main Hoon Na,” by including some old Rafi and Kishore hits in between, pleasing the older fans in the audience. In a twist to the Kishore number, “Lena Hoga Janam Hamein’ Kayi Kayi Baar,” Nigam sang “Aanaa Hoga L.A. Hamein Kayi Kayi Baar,” concluding his act with the melodious and soulful “Abhi Mujh Mein Kahi” from the movie “Agneepath.”
At the end of his solo performance, Nigam invited Aslam onto the stage by saying he is not only gifted but also has God’s grace bestowed upon him. Then the superstar singers sat together side by side and told the audience that after performing together in successful and sold-out shows in Dubai and Malaysia, they decided to tour North America to entertain their fans. They came together as artists because they respected each other’s talent and enjoyed working with each other.
The audience was visibly enthralled to see the two artists from the two countries as they offered tributes to the music legends of India and Pakistan by singing evergreen hits including “Lambi Judai” by Reshma, “Kabhie Kabhie Mere Dil Mein” by Mukesh, “Dil Dal Jaaye” and “Kya Hua Tera Vada” by Rafi, and “Ranjishe Hi Sahi” by Mehdi Hasan, among others.
One of the highlights of the show was a special Jugalbandi between the duo during which their chemistry and camaraderie were evident as they sang each other’s mega hits, concluding with “Kal Ho Na Ho,” together capturing everybody’s hearts in the arena and bringing the record breaking show to an end.
“Sonu & Atif Klose to You” will next be presented Sept. 24 at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., at 7 p.m. presented by Cal Coast Financial Group.