Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Omar Souleyman - Live In London 29/05/09 Review

To be honest a few words could never do this show any justice, but here goes.

Omar Souleyman is a legend in his native Syria, having released in the region of 500 cassettes since 1994. He mixes Syrian folk and pop styles with - at times, techno-paced rhythms topped off with over-the-top frantic Arabic-style keyboard solos. In recent times Omar has been championed by the likes of The Wire magazine and Damon Albarn, just to name a couple. Last year the US label Sublime Frequencies released a compilation of the best of his cassette material `Highway to Hassake' and have recently released more of the same on a mini-album entitled `Dabke 2020'.

Last Friday Omar and label-mates Group Doueh touched down in London at the Dome, Tuffnell Park as part of the Sublime Frequencies Tour. The venue was sold out, the place packed with eager and curious folk, most of which would have only been familiar of Souleyman from footage on youtube. Omar did not disappoint taking the stage to a heroes welcome. and then working the crowd up into a collective frenzy. Only on a couple of occasions did the pace drop from relentless and it was never less than captivating. Backed by the able keyboard player, a baglama saz player and the curious sight of Omar's literal right hand man, who was introduced as a poet, who on regular intervals would whisper words into Omar's ear for our man to sing to the assembled masses.

Really, this is a case of having to be there. Just make sure that next time Souleyman comes to your town you are there. Trust me.

These are some snaps I took on the night. And below that, a clip of the massive `Leh Jani'.

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