Lebanese singer Assi Hilani did not seem himself as he waited to appear on stage at the Jerash Festival in Amman, according to the London daily Elaph.
Fans began entering the south theater of the excavated ancient city in the evening to see Hilani. At 9pm Hilani became anxious after he was informed that only 600 tickets had been sold for his performance in the theatre with seating for 5,000.
The doors of Jerash’s Roman Theater were opened for free to fans for performances by Egyptian singer Hani Shaker and Latifa due to low ticket sales. By 11pm the theater was filled as Hilani appeared on stage humming a song composed for his Jordanian fans, although the crowd began singing Hilani’s latest song “Bab Am Bibki” (My Door Is Crying). Overcome with grief, Hilani wept on stage for his mother who died less than two months ago. I felt like I was suffocating on every word, said Hilani. Many fans began crying with him, and every time he would choke on a word the fans filled in singing the missing lyrics. Silence lay over the theater as the song ended, and upon the fans request Hilani sang the song once more. “Let us move away from this sadness,” said Hilani, as he continued with the concert. Hilani was pleased with his performance and his fans heartfelt enthusiasm, and while the song brought back memories of his mother, Hilani said that he accepts the fact that she is gone.
The song “Bab Am Bibki” was written 35 years ago and it was only a coincidence that Hilani recorded his version of it just before his mother became gravely ill, he explained. Hilani’s Jerash concert performance paled in comparison to previous years, although it was still considered a success. Some critics think there was insufficient media coverage to let concert-goers know that Hilani was coming to Jerash, yet Hilani blames the current turmoil in Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine for this year’s low ticket sales.