A night in with Google Reader would have been better

I went to a cultural event in Cairo on Friday after a self-imposed hiatus following a dire evening at an open-mic “talent” evening some months ago which made X Factor auditions look like a Three Tenors concert. So much bile built up during that never ending 45 minutes that I could have saddled my inflated gallbladder and ridden home on it.

Friday night Natasha Atlas graced the Geneina theatre in Al-Azhar Park and while not a huge fan well it’s lovely to sit outside in a gentle breeze isn’t it. We arrived early, Natasha started late, Guns and Roses style. As her band walked out before she appeared, a heavily accented voice bellowed out “welcome to Egypt” possibly thinking that the female piano player was Natasha? Who knows. Natasha eventually appeared, festooned in what looked like Siwan (tent) material.

Her voice really is incredible and her band was mad tight but there was something missing, despite – or maybe because of the fact – that everything was perfect. It was just like listening to one of her records. It didn’t help that she spent the whole time sitting down (having apparently hurt her leg) and dancing on her chair in a manner resembling a child trying to contain urine.

There were two exceptions to this, but both however were marred by external factors.

1.The achingly beautiful “Black is the Colour (Of My True Love’s Hair)” which Natasha sang very nicely indeed (though no one sings it like Nina). Alas however seated behind me was a Blackberry-owning penis-featured obnoxious tosser who spent virtually the whole song loudly telling someone how to reach the Geneina theatre which meant that we heard:

Black is the colour of my true love’s hair

AYWA YA ME3ALLEM HA2OLAK TAWSAL EZZAY

His face so soft and wondrous fair

SHEMAAL FE YEMEEN

The purest eyes and the strongest hands

AYWA YEMEEN

I love the ground on where he stands

WE KHALEEK MASHY 3ALA TOOL

I love the ground on where he stands

EB2A KALEMNY LAMMA TAWSAL

Every last bit of romance was stripped out of the song.

2.Riverman“, again she sang this well (although not sure that the super vibrato worked) and the band were great, but it pissed me off that she didn’t mention that this is a cover, particularly given that Nick Drake spent his entire career plagued by depression and doubting his own ability (!) before topping himself – and then going on to enjoy posthumous success. Isn’t there some kind of protocol regarding giving credit where credit is due in the music world?

Twenty minutes into the concert my friends and I were already starting to get a bit itchy but the final push was provided by an interminable Tabla solo which was brilliant and everything but all a bit Youtube “Learn Tabla with Ali”-ish. There was a minor comedy moment before hand however when Natasha handed he mic over to Tabla player Ali, explaining that she and he had written a song together which was played at Ali’s recent wedding.

Ali then went on to precede his solo with a short speech in which he introduced “the most important person” in his life. His wife surely! No, his dad bounded on stage in a baseball cap and I imagined somewhere in the audience, a woman bristled.

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3 Responses to A night in with Google Reader would have been better

  1. عمرو غربية says:

    Surely does not compare to an evening of entertainment by The Unknow.

  2. scribbled says:

    This is the first time in 2 weeks I have come close to missing Egypt. I am not sure why though.

  3. shahira says:

    On your blog you had images showing the former Egyptian President’s head pasted in to various photos. Do you have access to these photos, I would permission to use the one of former President Mubarak that appears to have led France in Napoleon’s place.
    Thanks. s

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