Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Hussain Al Jasmi Concert

A few days ago I had messaged a group of friends of mine, just asking if anything was happening this evening, and I immediately received a call from one of them. They were heading to the Hussain Al Jasmi concert and had a spare ticket so invited me to come with them. Sure thing. I had no idea who Hussain Al Jasmi was, my friend told me on the phone he was an Emirati singer, but I'm always up for a new cultural experience.

So I had an hour to change and get out to the National Convention Centre. I scrambled but managed to make it in time to meet my friends. In truth we had arrived early, a good half-hour before the show was scheduled to start, but this region is one of those parts of the world where things aren’t rushed and don't usually start at the listed time so we were actually really early.

It was a nice hall and I was in for a surprise when we got to our seats -- we had front row!

In the first few rows they had really nice seats.

Chilling out in comfort. :)

The opening act was a string quartet playing compositions written by local composer. It was pleasant, and the songs were actually pretty good. I assumed from the type of opening act that Mr. Al Jasmi was a traditional Arabic singer so we wouldn't be hearing a lot of modern pop and rock tunes.

When Mr. Al Jasmi took to the stage the ladies started going crazy and screaming. It was then that I realized that probably 75% of the crowd were women and teenage girls. Unlike a Western concert everyone was still well behaved, except for the screaming, and stayed in their seats. No standing up or rushing to the stage. Ladies screaming at their favorite singers appears to be a standard thing all over the world but in this devout Muslim country I’m guessing that rushing up to the stage and trying to touch the singer etc. is considered unseemly (and as I assume Mr. Al Jasmi is also a devout Muslim I'm not sure he would be too appreciative of that). You'll notice the stage is not too high and there's no security guards or fences protecting the stage.

Anyway Mr. Al Jasmi gave a long show and fans were constantly yelling out song requests, then bursting into applause when he started a song. Looking at his wikipage he has a lot of singles, and as wiki lists him as a composer he probably wrote most or all of the songs himself. Maybe a few of them were covers of popular Arabic songs.

Another interesting contrast to many Western concerts is that the volume level was decent. You didn't need earplugs, nor did we leave the concert with ringing in our ears (well, except when the lady next to me starting screaming at the top of her lungs while within a meter of my ear)

All in all a great evening. I was glad my friends invited me.

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