Omar Souleyman at the Cedar, 11/1/10
A very short, sweet and sweaty set for only those in the know, the quality not quantity crowd made it out on a chilly Monday night to see the famed singer. Accompanied by only a keyboardist and not his bodyguard/poet collaborator or hoard of line dancing minions he's known for in his videos or on his 400 CDs and cassettes he's recorded since first gracing the mic, Soleyman delivered joyous energy to a crowd that would normally be a wedding banquet or festival audience back where he's from.
With little communication other than his singing voice, insane techno rhythms and intense Middle Eastern melodies, the innate qualities of his spiritual music sound translated without regard. Planting the seeds of what perhaps his world and ours ultimately share in common, how to have a good time, there was less noodle dancing than is typical at the Cedar but a good mix of mostly "Yeah, you betcha" types finding the center of the the hypnotic beats and Soleyman's flowing vocals warming on Election Day Eve.
With carnivalesque qualities abound, Soleyman's electronic music and vibe, heavy on percussive elements and his own knack for romantic crooning, is more Blowfly than Barry White in approach. His elongated prose sung in low heavenly phrases make language barriers disappear with the sound giving a good sense of what's really coming across. Or by the way his audience reacts, dancing uncontrollably, you at least understand Omar Soleyman definitely knows his way around a good groove.
Personal Bias: On the TV you would think there was some "Muslim problem" in the world but I'm not the type to really give a fuck.
The Crowd: Mostly nerds that spend a lot of time in record stores in multiples of gyrating bodies.
Overheard in the crowd: "I Wonder what he's singing?"
Reporter's notebook dump: I do miss the bodyguard that's in the videos. They should bring him along next time.