Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Ghiwane aftermath haze

Quick notes from transient thoughts.
Such a great memorable evening! -sigh-, why the fun does not last till dawn.

Polarisation was my cue though, as I funnily experienced being the only young white person in the audience especially for this gig, with a few sparse middleaged Dutch folks loafing around amongst the huddled mass of Moroccans. I got puzzled looks from many, interested gazes from others. The 3 girls at the merchandise stand were genuinely sweet to me when I bought a few Nass albums (including their just-released-wet-from-press Ennehla Chama album and an older La Legende volume, yay!) They didn't know much about Nass other than *they're great, I guess* and were baffled with my explanation of my liking of the band into a mouthwatering rendition. Pfff, nerdism knows no break, sees wall nor obstacle.

Despite I expected a lot of middleaged fans of Nass el Ghiwane, it were nearly all youngsters of my age or even younger, 2nd & 3rd generation Dutch-Moroccans, who decided the audience demography. I asked my Moroccan colleague earlier today (You went to see Nass el Ghiwane?) why this was the case and basicly it came down to the fact that the middleaged Moroccans just do not run out for concerts, by old fashioned principle. Aside from that, Ismael explained that this target group is very unlikely to be reached through flyers or any other means of promotion, the community not endorsing a full view into cultural activities either. Sure their kids wouldn't tell mom and pops about the idols from their youth playing town, hell no, to be sure they have the space and freedom for themselves.

Thus so the dancefloor was controlled by the youths. To be an observing spectator was never easier whether I wanted it or not. There was a clear divide; groups of girls dancing in circles, seperated from the guys who danced in their own circles, all too shy to make direct contact except through peeks. Or even eyeing each other from a safe distance on the fringes of the pit. This charming and reserved ethic was interesting to witness, since on a normal dutch disco dancefloor both sexes mingle far more easily with each other or the Dutch.

Ok, enough of observant chitchat. What about the magic?

Support act Orchestra Al-Atlal gave a hipshakingly energetic performance, using double violins as the instigators while keyboards turned it into a Maghreb disco frenzy with people hustling for armlength spots. As a collective they sticked and were way better than the following famous acts of croonerstyled singers Abdelmoula and Jedwane. Sure, the slick suits and sugarsmoothed looks logically came with their on-stage appearance, but it was kinda bleak and sounded like any ordinary Chaabi to be heard blaring in your local Northern African music shop. I guess the recognition of quality famed disco folk is a missing link in my genes.
Finally Nass el Ghiwane came on and played their whole set acoustic. I especially got tight goosebumps on moments when Hamid Batma on sentir (a sort of lute) and Allal Yaala on snitra (a fretless banjo) did dual improvisations, where the heavy sound of the sentir pounced as a heartthrob while the snitra picked intricate melodies. I found myself swaying into a state of soft trance as the music got more grip on me, the longer a song lasted which could go on up to 15 minutes per composition. It's a comfort to know that earnest tribalism can still salvage the body and mind in a pure, sincere way, for it may not be taken out of context and repackaged as a rubbery bubblegum dream for the sake of product placement. Nope, it was savgely raw and real.

Oh yup, I promised some personal insight bits about Nass from Jace's unmissable Mudd Up! blog; see here, here, and here......

Mucho thanks to Joost for covering my opening shift at the cafe, so I could catch all of Nas el Ghiwane's magical set! :)

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