The prestigious, big-hearted figure of Arab singer, Kadim Al Sahir, sold out his concert in Fez and last night it was the place to be and Vanessa Bonnin was there for The View from Fez...
The skirts were short, the heels were sky-scraper high, the hair was big and the leopard print and sequins were out in force as the Fassi fabulous welcomed Iraqi heart-throb singer Kadim Al Sahir to Fes for his third concert at the festival in twenty years.
Al Sahir has been at the forefront of a return to romantic classicism in Arabic music, steering clear of the pop sound that is so prevalent today. He is known for his perfectionism and attention to detail, and praised for his non-traditional use of long forgotten maqamat (musical building blocks) in his compositions.
|Kadim fashion was to the fore|
Artistry aside, the majority of the female members of the audience were all about the charm and romance. Such was the desperation to get close to the host of the Middle East version of The Voice that security at Bab al Makina struggled to cope with crowds surging the barriers. The concert was completely sold out and there was a fair amount of tension generated by those who had paid 600 Dirhams for A class tickets and found themselves relegated to seats far back in the venue.
Those that did manage to get close to the stage screamed “Kadim! Kadim!” and posed for endless ‘selfies’ with their idol in the background. Song after song prompted rapturous cheers from the beyond capacity audience, with seemingly everyone knowing the lyrics by heart as they sang, clapped and waved their hands in the air in sentimental moments (of which there were many).
Qooli ohiboka, kay tazeeda wasamati
(Tell me, "I Love You", so my beauty may increase)
Fa be ghairi hobiki la akoono jameelan.
(For without your love, I can't be beautiful)
Qooli ohiboka kay taseera asabi-ee thahaban
(Tell me, "I Love You", so my fingers can turn to gold)
Wa tosbeha jabhti qindeelan.
(And my brow can light up like a candle)
Al ana qooliha! Wala tataradadi.
(Say it now! And do not hesitate)
Ba'thol hawa la yaqbalo ta'jeela
(For some love cannot stand to wait)
Apart from the lyrics, it was easy to see why Al Sahir has found his way into the hearts of so many female fans. With a full-wattage movie star smile, which he used to great effect, and impressive physique for a man of fifty-six (apparently he works out five times a week) this was definitely a handsome man who knows it. A serious musician undoubtedly, but a serious performer to boot.
“I like pop music. I think it’s beautiful. But I prefer the classical Arab music. I want to feel. When I write songs, I have to feel it. And the difficulties of life in Iraq encourage Iraqis to go deeply into things. Suffering is important some times. In Baghdad, yes, we have had too much trouble. But if life isn’t always easy, that can make you stronger. That’s why I chose Nizar’s poems. I know they’re very difficult, but I love that. I love it.” - Kadim Al Sahir
Backed by an orchestra consisting of twenty musicians and four female and five male backing singers (oh, and there was a conductor out in front), this was a full-blown production. However it was the man centre stage that had all the attention. They love him, sing along with his lyrics and couldn't get enough images of him on their mobile phones and Ipads. And, for his part, Kadim beamed the love right back at them.
“As a musician, I want my music to be heard. Because whenever I play, there are lots of people from Kuwait, Saudi, all together listening to the music. Because I don’t have any [animosity], just love. Just romantic songs. You can see the whole Middle East at my concerts" ~ Kadim Al Sahir
Text: Vanessa Bonnin, Sandy McCutcheon
Photographs Vanessa Bonnin
Fes Festival ~ Saturday June 21
Jnan Sbil Garden 4pm: Ihsan RmikiBatha Museum 4pm: Mint Ely Warakane & Raza Khan
Bab Boujloud Square 6.30pm: Kadim Al Sahir
Bab al Makina 9pm: Buddy Guy
Sufi Night at Dar Tazi 11pm: Hamadcha of Fez
Weather: Much cooler - Max 28 degrees Celsius (82.4 Fahrenheit)
Fez Medina Map
The View from Fez is an official media partner of the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music