Bahar Mar-Khalife at La Maroquinerie, Monday February 8th
I wasn’t sure where I was going or what to expect. A friend had invited me along to listen to some music, so I said yes.
The discrete door was easily identified by the long queue of people, shivering, chatting, the couple in front of us sharing a bottle of Moët, waiting to open their jackets and bags for security inspection. Past security, we went into the court yard and then through the door to the right and down the stairs, entering the band-sticker-covered lobby and in to the performance space.
No seats?! I’m getting old, I thought. The room was already full as we made our way down to the mosh pit where we stood shoulder to shoulder with other attentive audience members listening to the solo female artist playing her jumbo guitar, switching between vocal mics and making loops to accompany herself with hypnotic repetition. She was good, but I found it a bit too repetitive to enjoy standing! Maybe if I was sitting, lying, letting it wash over me, I would have been happy. She finished, and we waited.
Bachar entered the stage, a small compact man, 30 something, Lebanese/Parisian, shaved head, beard, T-shirt and jacket. He started to play his keyboard. simple, quiet. unassuming. He started singing Hallelujah, repeating the word over and over, intertwined with Moroccan gwana rhythms. He dedicated the piece to children who have died young. From an interview (portrait of the musician) he explains “The hallelujah does not belong exclusively to the West. It is sung in the churches of the East in Arabic, Aramaic and Assyrian. So for me there is nothing contradictory about combining a hallelujah with a gwana rhythm!” When the band crashes in, full force, polyrhythmic, multiple key signatures, 5/4, 4/4, 6/8, combine with styles of classical, reggae, speed metal, disco …I don’t really know what it was. I haven’t done drugs or alcohol in over 10 years, but I was on a trip! I forgot that I was standing, that I was holding bags from work, that I had a baby boy at home, as I swayed and bobbed on top of, inside, along side this varied sonic landscape.
The drummer was awesome, such a great smile as he played – I can’t even begin to describe the rhythms that were coming from the drums and piano. The bass player reminded me of the lovely and talented Brad Albetta 🙂 Solid, substantial, smooth!
It was great; powerful, complex, layered, textured, mystical, magical…. the energy on stage was intense, and mirrored in the audience. It was a great show. Very, very happy that I ventured into the unknown!