Waleed Mowafi checks out the first in Cairo Jazz Club's series of 'El Fusion' nights and is pleasantly surprised as Zeid & the Wings and Abo Wel Shabab soothe his soul...
Now, what I genuinely like about Cairo Jazz Club is that they are constantly mixing things up throughout the week, giving equal spotlight and exposure to live bands as they do to DJs. Yes, I do enjoy House music but, as of late, the proverbial smorgasbord of ‘khabtayas’ monopolising every night spot in Cairo, on every day of the week has been detrimental to my health, mind and permanently scarred my soul to the point it may never be repaired. So it was a much needed and refreshing change to check out the first in a series of El Fusion nights by CJC. Basically, once a week, for the next four weeks, they are bringing in some of the most inimitable fusion bands from across the Middle East complemented by a really talented line up of local musicians as well. My soul just might be cured yet!
In all honesty, I was feeling some trepidation. The lineup for the night was Lebanese fusion artists, Zeid & The Wings who were joined by Oriental Rock collective, Abo Wel Shabab. I didn’t really know what to expect and I can’t really say I often stick on a bit of Oriental Rock fusion to get my juices going. But my mind was opened and my ear drums were looking forward to not being raped by 150 BPMs of Techno noises for once. Zeid & The Wings hit the stage and my ear drums immediately thanked me as they were caressed by a fusion of Arabic Folk, Reggae , Rock and Electro sounds, all delicately soothed by a blend of harmonic vocals. Their smooth sounds were definitely juxtaposed to their hard hitting politically-driven lyrics. Just as I was about to down my third shot of B52. I heard the word ‘coward’ echo through the sound system. This, of course, caught my attention. I started to make my way through the crowd as once again. Zeid blasted through the mic: “COWARD”. I think to myself, is he talking about me? Is that funny little Lebanese hipster with the oversized glasses calling me a coward!? He was not, of course. I need to stop being so egocentric. He was preaching to the crowd: “If you are stuck in a job you hate, if you aren’t following your dreams, you’re a coward!”
I look down at the floor and dark thoughts start running through my mind. What am I doing with my life? Perhaps I am a coward… His words reverberated through my train of thought, corrupting any hope I had left in myself. Hold on! I thought, as I realised: Ever since I was an infant, I’ve always wanted to tweet live from Oriental Rock fusion nights in Egypt. YEAH! I’m winning at life! Happiness once again!
With my new found elation, catalysed by Zeid’s rant of cowards, I was excited for the next band, the brilliant Abo Wel Shabab. It used to be just Abo, but now he’s got some shababs to help him through a musical journey of Oriental fusion and wonder. What struck me about them is how, with every song, they managed to transcend genres. They really were the definition of fusion, smelting together electronic sounds with Oriental riffs; sarcastic lyrics with hard-hitting beats. People of Cairo: stop dancing in dark rooms, there is no need for sunglasses at night. Listen to some live music and go to bed early. Yes, what I’m saying is that Oriental Fusion is the new khabt.