This weekend was a musical frenzy, what with yesterday’s all day SOS extravaganza where I relived my Glastonbury and Reading festival days (only without alcoholic beverages or mud) and tonight yet another concert at the Sawy Cultural Wheel.
I will save a review of the bands who performed at SOS for my article, so that when I receive the weekly love letters from these ever so precious artistes and their handbags I will at least be comforted by the knowledge that I am getting paid for it.
One event of note which I shall not inflict on the English-language newspaper reading public but which shall be shared with you is that I saw FIT HANY FROM WUST EL BALAD. One minute I was enduring some band playing something vaguely oriental jazz, the next I had been descended on by a breathless N who, aware of my infatuation, informed me that Sir Hany of Hotness was standing in the crowd unguarded, like a normal bloke. Unbelievingly, I looked in the direction she indicated and there He was, all slow motion white teeth smiling, illuminated by a celestial ray of light from the heavens, and wearing a crappy beige t-shirt.
Naturally I sprinted over but did so in a crouching guerrilla soldier style, concerned that I might seem uncouth should I launch myself onto him and knock him over. It was therefore something of a circular beeline, reminiscent of the time a 17 year-old me and my friends positioned ourselves so we could giggle and gasp behind hooligan turned family man Liam Gallagher of Oasis as he did a peculiar hip wiggling dance during the support act at his concert. I ended up at the perfect promontory to observe all six foot plus of Hany in his beige t-shirt, and am absolutely devastated to report that without a stage his aura is dimmed, and considerably so. It could have something to do with his extreme hairiness: I like heavy-set features but Groucho Marx eyebrows caused by lax personal grooming is asking too much. Also, there are cool ‘fros, and there is geography teacher/Art Garfunkel-style hair miscreancy, of which difference hirsute Hany is apparently incognisant. After basking my eyes in him while trying not to appear like a psycho I returned to the group, another dream shattered slightly and all the world a bit beige. N and I nonetheless agreed that we would not chuck him out of bed for farting, which is South London for ‘he is rather attractive’.
SOS was otherwise largely uneventful, at least in blojjing terms, which is remarkable given the fact that I was there for like, a million hours. I put political considerations aside and hugged a dashing US marine in order to be able to check that box on life’s list. I saw the masterful Ilham el Madfai who was of course gamed ta7n [solid grinding]: anyone who plays classical guitar flamenco style so the instrument is somewhere near his nose while also wearing a fishing hat automatically gets my vote.
I saw Limouzine in the line of duty tonight, despite my policy against bands and individuals who keep it real dyslexia-style by replacing the letter S with a Z. I have a theory that these ridiculous and wilful misspellings will gradually become entrenched, and that eventually the English language will go back 360 degrees to Chaucer so weel awll bee riting englishe lek dis againe. People in polo necks term it language evolution when it is quite clearly banditry.
Limouzine play inoffensive, rather insipid, MOR guitar music of the Christian rock variety – rock in a shirt and tie which is polite to your mother. They actually did perform a song ‘dedicated to all mothers’ which featured the lyric ‘I love you mummy.’ As if this was not appalling enough, the song began with China Bells sound effects, which is that percussion instrument made up of metal rods which produces a sort of rippling sound beloved of love song composers and Disney. It also produces a feeling of nausea in me, particularly when introducing a song eulogising mothers written by teenagers who should be singing about glue sniffing or petty theft or something.
The music was in places a poor imitation of Wust el Balad, in others just a mixture of any old malarchy. One song featured a change in rhythm and style so sudden and so illogical that it was the musical equivalent of suddenly talking about earwax in dung beetles during a discussion of the Lithuanian stock exchange – I was literally startled out of my seat such was the change in tempo. Another queer thing was a percussion solo slot, during which the bongo player and then the drummer wowed the crowd in the style of 80s heavy metal sticks men with technically proficient but pointless banging. The bongo player himself actually physically resembled a bongo, being barrel shaped, bald and having a tan-coloured scalp.
Good points about the performance included the booklets containing the song words given out free to the audience (and which made me feel like I was once again in school general assembly singing We Are Climbing Jesus’ Ladder), and the lead guitarist. He was simply outstanding, but also tiny and adorable and made me want to make sure that he had tucked his vest in in case he caught cold. Instead of the arrogant posturing and weird face-pulling common to most guitarists, this kid went around his business with a sort of vaguely worried expression, becoming truly rabbit-in-headlights startled whenever he looked up from the frets in response to the audience’s applause. He also gave shy smiles to his fellow band members whenever they commended him on his digital dexterity which again just made me want to give him a kiss and a packet of sweets.
The evening was only marred by the post-concert trip to the Rip Off and Tea Leaf or whatever that godforsaken place on Abul Feda is called which, in contravention of all trade description acts, doesn’t actually serve tea. I requested a cup of tea with milk which resulted in a five minute bonkers conversation consisting of the cashier saying ‘Chai’ and me saying ‘shai! Shai!’ and him repeating ‘Chai?’ and me saying ‘TEA’ and wanting to deck him. Eventually he produced a small pot of what I can only describe as garden weeds with cardamom seeds which he alleged they sold and people drink, and in that moment I would have sold my right kidney for a Lipton teabag after setting light to the whole ridiculous chi-chi, or chai-chai, place.