Gig review

Mustafa Zahid

Across the SECC, the stars of X-Factor were enticing screams from girls in high heels and short skirts. Mustafa Zahid is a huge star in Pakistan, and he elicited a fair number of more respectful screams, and demonstrated a star quality that retained a humility.
His looks – boy band handsome, a little rugged but uncontroversial- match his music which, in the extended acoustic session, resembled a Pakistani version of Pearl Jam.Usually supported by his band Rox3n (sic), Zahid slowed it down- perhaps noting that his audience was attending the Sufi Festival and not the X-Factor – and was accompanied only by an acoustic guitar. The homeliness of the arrangements could not disguise the expansive rock gestures and confident hooks: Zahid prowled the stage, not so much a predator but checking that the audience was involved, inviting them to sing along and clap. Only at the end did Zahid switch to the grand gesture: against a backing tape of thumping techno, he performed his biggest hit, dragging fans on stage and encouraging dancing in the aisles. Pacing off stage, he almost managed arrogance, aping the stereotype of the star but never quite loosing his sweet charisma. Apart from his voice – and lyrics – there is little about Zahid that marks him out as an Eastern pop star. Certainly, his on-stage person and MOR grunge could have set him up in the X-Factor show. His support act, which featured a dhol and an old school synthesizer, had more of that restless that marks Bollywood, and the sampled strings that Britney stole and that create immediate tension. Those expecting exoticism would be disappointed- the real changes between Zahid and his western pop rivals are in the context of the gig and the audience, the shared values and the different subtexts.