Winter arrived with rock maestros, and a striking ‘November Rain’

Brandmyth Communication’s star-studded concert rocked the city

Winter in Bangladesh has always been greeted with enthralling, grooving rock concerts in recent years until all the festivities stopped at the roadblock named the Covid-19 pandemic. Before that, the magical city of Dhaka last celebrated the ‘Joy Bangla Concert-2020’ with its rock-quivered fans back in March 2020, and then everything got shelved due to the pandemic - and winter lost its throbbing chaos of rock music in the city. Although online concerts and musical shows kept the industry alive, leading rock bands and iconic rock superstars, alongside their crazy rockaholic and metalhead fans, had to remain absent in the busy stadiums and arenas.

Thanks to the improved pandemic situation and rapid vaccination in the country, the government lifted all the restrictions a few months ago - and as a result, concerts are back too. And when the situation asked for the biggest reincarnation of grand concerts in Dhaka, Brandmyth Communication brought up a mega-concert titled ‘November Rain’ at the International Convention City, Bashundhara (ICCB) in the capital on November 12, headlined by none other than the rock legend James, alongside his beloved band Nagarbaul.

In addition to James and Nagarbaul, seven other popular bands - Artcell, Black, Cryptic Fate (the holy trinity in Bangladeshi band scene, nicknamed by the rock fans as the ‘ABC’ generation), the reformed Viking, and three underground bands - Plasmic Knock, Savagery and Fuze, enthralled the rockaholics at the Hall-4, ‘Noboratri’ of ICCB. The venue, which has become a staple centre for rock addicts, welcomed around five thousand fans who kept getting amped throughout all the performances while keeping the harmony alive from afternoon till late night.

The gates were opened at 3 pm, however, crowds were already visible outside of the entrance, holding their tickets - even hours prior to the starting moment. Once the show began, emerging rock bands - Plasmic Knock, Savagery and Fuze, started setting the vibe before the rock giants took over the coveted stage. Speaking of that, the next set of performing bands featured the rejuvenated Viking performing first, then Black, Cryptic Fate, Artcell and last but not the least, rock icon James and his Nagarbaul.

One of the common things in the Bangladeshi band music scene is the breakup among the groups due to multiple reasons. Vikings became Viking, and Black vocalist Rubayet Chowdhury also just recently announced that he has left the band for personal reasons. The circumstances, however, did not hamper the amazing performances of Viking and Black, as they enthralled fans with their iconic songs. Tonmoy Tansen’s rejuvenated Viking performed many popular songs collected from the vintage Vikings’ 20 years lineage, including ‘Opekkha,’ their monumental song - while Black came up next with its new vocal and pulled a few surprises including popular singer Tashfee and the flamboyant, everyone’s favourite drummer of the Watson Brothers and The Attempted Band, Arafat Kazi - who dedicated his performance on the songs ‘Ondho’ and ‘Porahoto’ to the vintage and the most popular line-up of Black, featuring Jahan-Miraz-Jon-Tashan and Tony. The band welcomed its new vocalist Ishan Hossain, and in addition to that, Artcell’s lead guitarist and popular Bangladeshi musician Kazi Faisal Ahmed collaborated in their popular song ‘Blues and Rod’.

The next performing band was Cryptic Fate, one of the most popular heavy metal bands in the country which enthralled the rockaholics with some of their all-time popular songs including ‘Bhoboghure, ‘Amar Sathe Aay,’ ‘Protibad,’ ‘Akromon’ and ‘Cholo Bangladesh’. Popular musician and singer Raef Al Hasan Rafa, who is known for his own band Avoidrafa as well as being one of the core members and the drummer of another iconic rock band Aurthohin, is also the drummer of Cryptic Fate - and the band’s vocal Chowdhury Fazle Shakib, alongside the guitar lords Khwaja Sarfaraz Latifullah and Farhan Samad, rocked the crowd altogether, concluding with a note of gratitude towards fans for bringing back the concert craziness once again after such a long, long time.

The final presentation from the ‘ABC’ generation was brought up by none other than the band, which has the craziest rock fanbase in the country that even just after listening to the announcement, fans literally broke security barriers as they tried to take the front row experience to watch their beloved band performing. Obviously, it's the Artcell - and when its iconic vocalist and riff guitarist George Lincoln D'Costa, took over the stage alongside the band’s gifted addition, lead guitarist Kazi Faisal Ahmed with founding drummer Kazi Sazzadul Asheqeen Shaju and touring bassist Titas Baha - the crowd got hypnotized. Artcell performed the first bit of their 16-minute epic ‘Oniket Prantor’ alongside other hit tracks like ‘Dukkho Bilash,’ ‘Chilekothar Sepai’ and ‘Utshober Utshahe.’ The aroma of melodious rock was all over the place, something that Artcell fans had an unquenchable thirst for the past two years.

After all the performances were done, the real showstopper then took over the mantle. Although everyone knew who was about to perform next, the crowd never stopped cheering whenever there was any mention going on about the ultimate rock icon - James. The moment when ‘Guru’ walked into the stage to everyone’s delight, wearing his usual black t-shirt with faded jeans while sporting a new bearded look, picked up his guitar and greeted his crazy admirers called “Dushtu Chheler Dol,” saying, “You all have become more beautiful than before” - the concert attendees transcended straight into seventh heaven. He then immediately started dropping his iconic, classic songs one after another, including ‘Lace Fita Lace,’ ‘Dukhini Dukkho Korona,’ ‘Deewana Mastana,’ ‘Pagla Hawa,’ ‘Sultana Bibiyana,’ ‘Dushtu Cheler Dol,’ ‘Ghor Banaila Ki Diya’ and more. Not only these massive hits, James and his Nagarbaul stunned the audiences as always with the Shamsur Rahman poem ‘Uttor’-turned-lyrical ballad titled “Taaray Taaray,” and the show concluded with the song ‘Bheegi Bheegi’ from the 2006 Indian superhit film Gangster, which made James crazy popular in Bollywood. Throughout the entirety of his performances, the roaring crowd celebrated the festivity like crazy - every hand was harmonizingly rising through his magical melodies, every phone kept clicking and capturing the madness and every foot was tapping the floor with the thumping bases of his firm, loud yet majestic voice.

Coincidentally, after an hour or two when the concert called it a day, out of nowhere it was started raining outside at midnight, justifying the naming of the concert as it was truly a ‘November Rain’. Nonetheless, it was a great musical event for sure with many more in the pipeline, and this felt a necessary yet relaxing, rocking beginning of the festive season of concerts in the country.

  • Nagar Baul James

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