I had totally forgot the date. I haven’t noticed how quick time was going. I’ts already November 12-13 and it’s the dates of Hiba Tawaji and Wadih Abi Raad‘s concert. In case you recall who Wadih is, I bet you have seen him at least once along the 8 seasons of Star Academy Lebanon (he skipped a season I think)
I’m fascinated by this 24 year old girl’s talent. I’m inspired by her achievements. You might say she’s done nothing compared to others, but to me, she is achieving something I really want to do.
I loved Hiba’s talent since I first heard her in “The Return of the Phoenix”. She showed some of her talent in that play. She gave the audience more of her in “Sayf 840” and then let it all out in her latest album “La Bidayi W La Nihayi” and the play “Don Quixote” where she acted, sang and danced amazingly.
Oussama’s album “La Bidayi W La Nihayi” featuring Hiba Tawaji was released few months ago and it is still #1 on the Virgin Megastore Top 20 chart. After more than 10 years since his last album, Oussama released this long awaited album with his newly discovered treasure. It was released with a press conference and album signing session. I didn’t attend that but I bought the album later.
My first impression of the album was disappointing. I thought that Oussama’s music would be more mature and carry more weight after around 13 years of nothing but amazing music and songs for the plays he produced over those years. I’m not saying I didn’t like the album, but what I mean is that I might have got my hopes up high after having his play music in my head over the years. The music first sounded empty although it was played by many different instruments. Maybe it was made on purpose in order not to distract the listener with anything but Hiba’s voice. The interesting fact is that the more I listened to the album, the more I liked it. I managed to appreciate the details, the skills that Hiba has acquired to produce those numbers. I didn’t like all the tracks, some of them are more original than the others.
The album consisted of 12 tracks:
1- La bidayi wla nihayi: it’s the Arabic version of “The windmills of your mind” by Michel Legrand. It is a beautiful song with lots of imageries. It also features a 25 seconds scream at the end of the track that is just marvelous.
2- Herban: a song about the Lebanese and Arab situation. (not one of my favorites for its repetitive tune over the verses)
3- La t2elli inak mishta2li: a slow ballad with lovely melody and combination of instruments.
4- Zat il lafti: a incident translated into poetry that carries you with the singer’s experience of seeing someone like her old lover and being hesitant is it’s him or not.
5- Mashyi w ma ba3ref la wayn: a very surrealistic song, or as Oussama calls it “Salvador Dali” for its imaginative images that no other writer has ever done something similar to it. (This is a favorite of mine)
6- Kell s7abi fallou: another slow ballad. This song has sad feeling to it, so if you are depressed, don’t go for it to cheer you up.
7- Tango l 7orriyi (Libertango): this Latin-inspired track talks about the oppression, liberation and the famous tango in the Argentine. It also features a rarely use instrument nowadays; the accordion.
8- Helm: another dreamy and imaginary track with some nice light music.
9- Khayfi 2oul: a funky track that features the highest sung note in this album or even in all of Oussama’s productions. (some might just find it just a screaming song, but it depends on your taste) Hiba did a great job on this.
10- Bil 3omr li ba2i: another Arabic version of a masterpiece by Michel Legrand “What are you doing for the rest of your life” A pure classic song.
11- Al mortazaqa: a song that also can be applied to our days. In this song, Hiba shows off with her vocal abilities with singing musical notes that are high and close to each other. It’s a direct in-your-face to Najwa Karam’s show-offs in her tabla imitation sounds in her song “Ma fi nom”
12- Fta7li l bab: a remake of the old version originally sung by Carole Samaha in Oussama’s previous album “The New Order” back in 1997 (or 1998)
Back to the concert, I had totally forgot about the event’s date until a friend of mine reminded me. I still didn’t buy my ticket tough but I managed to get a ticket at the entrance. I went alone because no one was available to accompany me at such a short notice.
The concert consisted of 17 various Rahbani tracks picked from the old Rahbani brothers days, to Mansour’s solo plays, and Oussama’s personal work in plays and albums. The songs were accompanied by a video projection in the background displaying natural scenes, music videos of the sings, or tribute videos. Oussama dedicated two songs the soul of his father. The first was by a song that Mansour Rahbani wrote for the musical play “Gibran & The Prophet” about the duality of the writer and the characters he creates. The second was “La bidayi wla nihayi” that Mansour wrote but never listened to. The video projection featured a video recording of Mansour in a jacket and a hat walking in nature.
The music at the concert was amazing. There were many instruments: piano, keyboards, bongos, drums, buzuq, 2 guitars, saxophone, and an accordion. Instruments were played by great musicians and by Oussama himself too. The songs had a new fresh sound, whether they are the songs from the new album or old songs that had been rearranged on stage. The music was full and strong, exactly fitting my taste, a total stage performance music.
Wadih and Hiba rocked the stage. The crowd was loving the performances and singing with them. Hiba proved that she is not only good at doing studio recordings but she was amazing at live performances too. Wadih, the tenor, whom I was told that he doesn’t perform concerts in Lebanon, also had a huge audience and did a great job pleasing the crowd in his solo songs and sharing the stage with Hiba in her album’s songs as well as the other Rahbani songs.
The repertoire contained the following songs (in order):
-Lazem ghayer l nizam
-A song from the unreleased music album of “Gibran and the Prophet”
-Min li byekhtar from “Don Quixote”
-Habaitek w B7ebek
-Another mash-up “Lamouni Ktir” from “Don Quixote” + Libertango
-Gharibayn w Layl
-A duet from “Gibran and the Prophet”
-A mash-up of “Zat el Lafti” & “Mashyi w ma ba3ref la wayn”-
-Mawal “Dakhalt Jannit 3adan” + Shebbak Habibi
-La bidayi wla nihayi
-Ajmili ya oum 3amr (from moulouk el tawa2ef)
-3al bal ya watanna
While listening to the album “La bidayi wla nihayi” I had a feeling that some tracks are familiar. But not until I listened to the repertoire in the concert that it got to me. “Herban” have a similar feel to “Hayda Lebnan” and “Guevara” sounds similar to “Al mourtazaqa” I have to note that Oussama’s music in the musical plays are a lot different and there is hardly any similarity between songs.
Bottom line, I liked the concert and I was glad I attended. In fact, I loved the live version of the songs (especially those from their latest album) more than studio tracks. I ‘m no music expert but I recommend that Oussama would take that style and go far with it. I feel like it would get a wide audience especially with rock oriented listeners; well studied music + outstanding vocals + poetic lyrics= great combination of a new genre in the Lebanese music industry.
A tiny note on the side:
Nowadays, you can’t take count much on the audience’s taste for they have become sheep. They would like anything that is imposed onto them. For example, I would never understand why would a person love a song such as the infamous “Tirashrash” and disregarding its cheap quality. The audience of the music industry nowadays has adapted to love everything and admire anything no matter how bad it is. If only the audience that threw eggs and tomatoes on Abd Al Halim when he first sang would come back and take down all the scum that the current music industry is filled up with.