Fiddlers on the roof: Mashrou Leila brings Jordan's Roman ampitheatre alive!

Published September 16th, 2013 - 08:36 GMT
Mashrou Leila jammed the night away in Amman. (Image: Jordan Times/ Gaelle Sundelin)
Mashrou Leila jammed the night away in Amman. (Image: Jordan Times/ Gaelle Sundelin)

Anyone who questions the energy running through the veins of young Jordanians should have attended Mashrou Leila’s concert on Saturday and witnessed the antique Roman amphitheatre resound with claps and shouts.

It took less than two songs for the Lebanese band to get a frenzied audience up on their feet to dance and sing along to their popular hits such as “Embembelela7”, where intense drumbeats bring what is originally a nursery rhyme to new heights.

Mastering both jazzy, upbeat rock tunes and old French classics with a twist such as the brilliant Arabic version of “Ne me quitte pas” by Jacques Brel, the band kept the audience out of breath while lead-singer Hamed Sinno’s voice never cracked.

“It was really cool [last night], people had a really good time, and we fed off the energy of the audience, it was huge,” guitar player for Mashrou Leila, Firas Abu Fakhr told The Jordan Times on Sunday.

But beyond the musical quality and variety that the band treated the audience to on this warm summer night, it was the lyrics that ultimately resounded in the youth.

“I looked up the translation of the songs to make sure I understand everything because I love the music but also the themes they tackle. They are a real alternative to all the existing commercial pop music that only deals with romance,” US-born Veronica Muoio said as she was eagerly expecting the band to appear on stage.

Many — including the band itself — feel that in spite of Mashrou Leila members’ eclectic taste in music, they still share the same interest for outspoken alternative bands and consider them their source of inspiration.

“We were tired of listening to music that didn’t mean anything to us… Soap Kills [Lebanese indie electro-pop] started for me what became my desire to make music because they sang in Arabic and I could listen to them like any [English-speaking] band. They were very daring and powerful too, it inspired me,” Abu Fakhr said.

Going from jam to glam over the course of five years, Mashrou Leila has built its fanscape on remaining genuine and bold in addressing issues facing their society such as materialism, same-sex love and immigration through their three albums.

“I love this band because they dare talking about social taboos…politics and society. In Jordan we like things to look pretty on the outside but we sweep them under the carpet; here they deal with them,” Ayesha Omari, a long-time fan said.

During the concert, Mashrou Leila made it clear they would not take a political stand and instead continue to reflect the concerns of Lebanese and Arab youths.

“We are several individuals in the band and making a stand like that as a band is a huge responsibility. We don’t make political statements and no offense to anyone but we refuse being pushed into something we don’t want do to. We play music and enjoy playing music, that’s what we do,” Firas said.

Dozens of young girls jumped on stage towards the end of the performance and briefly interrupted the concert to hug the singer.

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