Kathem's performance in the South Theatre on Saturday was both action-packed and people-packed. The capacity crowd of over eight thousand enthusiastic Kathem fans sat and stood tier upon crowded tier to hear a varied program of the mega-star's most popular songs in the last of his three festival performances.
The black-suited Kathem made his dramatic entrance onto the floodlight stage at exactly nine o'clock to a barrage of photo-flashes, and enthusiastic shouts of "Kathem , Kathem" and " Abu Wisam, Abu Wisam". The deafening welcoming chant faded only when the opening strains of "Yehrek Wala Yehterek" filled the stifling hot air in the overcrowded theatre. The silence, however, proved to be short lived as thunderous applause created both this song and "Bard Al-Hub" that quickly followed. The audience sang along with Kathem, swaying their bodies and flaming lighters to the hypnotic rhythms of familiar tunes. The sudden arrival of Her Majesty Queen Noor and her entourage brought the song to an abrupt and unexpected halt. The royal party safely seated, chants of
"Layla, Layla" filled the air. Kathem delighted his audience when he made their wish come true. Queen Noor listened attentively to a medley of songs including " Kouly Ohibuka ", " Mustabidah " and "Haza Al-Lon". During the song " Zedeeni Ishkan ", Her Majesty came up to the stage to shake Kathem's hand as the music came to its second halt in respect for the concert's royal visitor.
"Zedeeni Ishkan" completed, Kathem continued with a traditional Iraqi song by beginning with a Mawal, a slow passage in which the introductory poetic words are more important than the tune. A heavily sweating Kathem, paused briefly for refreshing sips of water before launching into "Lagudlik Addarb Goud" in which the singer joined six black-suited male dancers in performing the choby dance. Many of his attentive audience were also overheated and ambulances were needed to treat some who had fainted in the sea of bodies and the summer heat.
The dance completed, the Director of the Jerash Festival, Akram Masarweh, took the microphone briefly from the star of the show to announced that one of the audience had done something very wrong. A bottle of water, aimed apparently at Kathim, had hit Akram during one of the songs. The offender, immediately apprehended by security now awaited, "Roman-style" the audience's judgment on his fate. Akram asked "should, in the name of Kathem and himself, the offender be released." A "thumbs-up" plea for clemency thundered from the audience and the program drew to a harmonious close with "Yamdallal", which featured a superb " heavy-metal style" solo from the groups virtuoso drummer, and "Ghasbin Annak" from the star's recent CD.
The night, which was a royal performance in more than one sense, certainly proved to be one of the popular highlights of this year's festival -- Albawaba.com
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