Ah, Rayess Bek: Once a staple of the local scene, now an international artist who keeps in touch with us whenever he can. Luckily, keeping in touch took on a physical sense when he returned here for a week of shows and promotions. The last of which took place in Walimat Warde’ on Saturday, April 24th.
-Before the Show: First of all, big thanks to Sisi for keeping me company before the show started. Also, thanks to the person who reserved the table we sat at but never showed up.
I know there isn’t much point in complaining about the usual lack of punctuality, but fuck…
This would be the second time I see Ryaess Bek, the first being him solo in Zico House. It’s an escalation: Rayess Bek à Rayess Bek + Flute à Rayess Bek + Orchestra (June 6).
-The Show: I’m terribly sorry, but I’ve forgotten certain details, one of which is the order of the songs, so I’ll just list them, trying my best to follow a chronological order.
The opener was “30”, which also acts as the album opener. The set-up that night consisted of Rayess Bek on the mic, with a laptop, which he controlled via a MIDI controller, and of course, Nayssam Jalal filling in on the flute. Rayess Bek rapped his lines with vigor, and Nayssam accompanied him on flute. It’s nice hearing things live for a change. One thing I liked about Nayssam is that she wasn’t just some random flutist plucked out of her natural orchestra habitat and placed in a hip hop show. She was actually a hip hop chick, swaying, bobbing, and gesturing with her arms. This song features a part rapped by Rayess Bek’s former Aks’ser partner in crime, Eben Foulen. However, his part was replaced with some improvised jamming. That’s what makes a live show good: when it’s NOT exactly the same as what you’d hear on the album.
I swear, I can’t remember the correct order, so we’ll do them as they come in the album keeping in mind that that they were not actually performed in that order, alrighty?
“La Min?” was not an exception from any of the other songs, delivered just as powerfully, but a little less prominent flute here.
The title track was “Khartech Aa Zamann” very passionately performed. Rayess Bek would tell his calamitous life-story starting from his grandfather being kicked out of his homeland to him seeking refuge from the 2006 war in Paris. He goes from calmly speaking the lyrics to yelling them with anguish and frustration.
“Samm” was great, just like in Zico House, but with flute this time around.
When “Manem” started, I didn’t recognize it. I forgot that he had reworked it for his album. The percussions came in, followed by the oud, and I was still at a loss. But as soon as the first couple lines were uttered, I was like “what the fuuu-“! It was good. One of the things I like about this set was that he didn’t just hype his new stuff and that’s it. He also revisited some of his past material.
While we’re on the subject, he also surprised me with a performance of “Shoufo 7alon” from his debut album. Never in my lifetime did I imagine I’d hear the flute in it played live. This beat was actually created by Zeid Hamdan for the group SoapKills. Let me tell you something, the fact that Rayess Bek had been around for a long time played a big role in the reactions of the crowd. Some people had memorized the lyrics, from listening to his stuff as early as 2003. I was one of them, except I started around 2008. It was special to me, hearing the songs that were being blasted through my earphones on the bus all those months being performed live. When he delivers the line “btoftas min ree7t l’mazout” on-album, a sample of him coughing plays afterwards. So ingrained was that recording in the collective mind of the audience, that after he rapped the line live, the whole room was coughing. I swear.
Also from his back-catalogue was “3am Be7ki Bel Sokout”. When he sang “sawte’ 3ale'”, he really meant it, because he yelled that at the top of his lungs.
“Amercaineh”: Again, people knew it, they sang along.
“Loubnen 7elem”: This one was to show us why it was crucial that we go down to Laique Pride the following day. And by God we did… I did at least.
“Schizophrenia”: Very emotional. I never really liked it till I saw it live at Zico. That’s another effect of live music: not being able to skip to the next track, one might reconsider a certain piece of work.
Back to the new ones. There was “Rap?” which has a wonderfully flowy flute riff.
He asked in French “Who wants to bomb Iran?” before getting into “Keskonatten?”. There was a healthy amount of crowd-artist verbal exchange by the way.
At one point, he got a bit irritated by the infamously talkative diners of Walimat. Honestly it wasn’t as bad as when Vahan Papazian played his Indo-electronic tunes there, but I guess Rayess Bek was just as picky as me. He argued “You people, you paid 10,000 L.L to see a live show, but what are you doing? You’re talking? Do you realize what you’re doing? You’re paying 10,000 L.L to do something you can do anywhere anytime for free!” FINALLY! Someone understands me and my bitching! *pride*
“L’Homme de Gauche” was played. The calm tune that was rapped to escalated to climax in a fast-paced drums-flute duel, as the drums’ tempo got faster (Rayess Bek was manually triggering this shift with a dial on the machine before him) and the flute playing more rapid, both racing to the end of the track.
The crowd wanted an encore. It was either “La Min?” or “3am Be7ke’ Bil Soukout”. Not being able to come to an agreement, Rayess Bek performed both, again. Talk about an insatiable appetite…
-After the Show: I’m glad he came back, better late then never. It was more live than Zico, with Nayssam Jalal on flute and all, but I’m still waiting for June 6, full orchestra. Purchased a copy of his CD, and will try putting together a review eventually. He also had some of his old CDs on sale, which some of you might not see as that big a deal, but I’d like you to know that you can’t find his stuff in stores anymore due to them being out of print, and a certain recall. So yeah, whoever bought them, good on ya!
*Photos by myself: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=425264&id=842365214