If you love the sound of an overdriven guitar, the sight of a Marshall amp will make your mouth water. After all, it has been the choice amplifier for the greatest axe slingers, from Jimi Hendrix to Jimmy Page to Eric Clapton. But when the CEO of music store V-Sel, Nauman Vohra, approached the brand to officially launch in Pakistan, his offer was met with a little skepticism.
“We had to literally beg them to come to Pakistan,” recalled Vohra, sharing how Marshall was a little apprehensive about entering a country which has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. But after hours of convincing, Vohra persevered. So it was befitting that the amp manufacturer’s official entry into the country was marked by a rocking concert full of the tantalizing vintage tones Marshall is so famous for, rather than a traditional run-of-the-mill press conference.
No ode to Marshall can be complete without the guitar heroes that make the amp what it is. And with maestros Aamir Zaki, Omran ‘Momo’ Shafique, Faraz Anwar, and pop stars Bilal Maqsood, Shahi Hasan, Gohar Mumtaz and Imran ‘Immu’ Momina in tow, the launch was a resounding success.
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In a conversation with The Express Tribune, Vohra shared why he was so keen on bringing the brand to Pakistan, given that only a fraction of music enthusiasts actually purchase instruments. “It’s a small market, but it’s a moving market. People are now more open to music and things are slowly improving.” Many artists have been using Marshall amplifiers for some time, but the company’s launch in the country means musicians will no longer have to go through the hassle of getting equipment shipped from abroad.
Even music director Sohail Javed is stoked about Marshall making inroads to Pakistani stores. “More than anything , it’s an international brand putting their trust in Pakistan, stating ‘Yes, you guys are ready to sell our product’. That’s a huge thing in these times when the country is not sure of what’s going on,” he said.
With Zaki, Momo and Faraz Anwar headlining the show, picking the opening acts must have been no easy task. Having formed a V-Sel band several years ago along with some of his co-workers, Vohra decided to take to the stage himself. The band put up an impressive show, riling up the audience before the big boys took the stage.
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The band’s opening numbers, a cover of Sar Kiye Ye Pahar and original composition called Meri Kahani, were appreciated, but it was their last two tracks that really struck a chord with the audience.
Omran then joined the V-Sel band for covers of Wild Thing and If Ya Wanna Be Bad. Performing with Mauj band mate Sikandar Mufti on drums, Omran also belted out a few of the band’s popular tracks.
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Though Zaki and Faraz Anwar captivated the audience with their performances of classics like Money, Mera Pyaar, Panchi and Ujalon Mein, it wasn’t till the end of the evening that the three guitar heroes – Zaki, Faraz and Omran – came together for a blistering show of fretboard wizardry. In a four-men guitar-off also featuring Yasir Ejaz Shaikh, the axemen performed Another Brick In The Wall and Wild Thing. Soon, they started experimenting with the tracks, throwing in their own musical ideas to create a frenzy of guitar heroics coupled with pyrotechnics on stage. At the end, the performers received a near minute-long standing ovation, but this time the real stars of the show were the amps that made it all happen.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 8th, 2015.
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