Concert Review – Omar Souleyman at Kesselhaus

Singer Omar Souleyman was at the Kesselhaus und Maschinenhaus last night. Alone on stage with his keyboardist, he performed in front of a packed audience. This is a review of the concert.

The waiting line outside the venue was impressive, each and every one queuing to see the former wedding singer from Syria. As I finally get in, this DJ with a tarboosh on his head is playing his horrible CDs. It seems he looped songs and fed them into the sound system with no apparent logic. This results in a jerky and broken performance.

Add in a bit of filter and you get the worst DJ experience to have graced mankind. I witnessed something never before seen, the warm up act being jeered and the audience showing him their thumbs pointed downwards. The “performer” leaves the stage after throwing his CD into the crowd.

The silence was delightful for many and for myself. The crowd of people stood and stared while sound engineers transported the turntables off stage. This stage now only featured two keyboards, those of Souleyman’s accompanying musician.

Probably not a concert for indieberlin

As we are plunged into darkness, cheers explode and flashlights are turned on. An incredible number of people aim their cellphones at the crowd as though looking for survivors in a collapsed building. It becomes increasingly annoying. The keyboardist comes on and spills the most disturbing bass music onto the PA system. It is so loud my nostrils begin shaking and tickling. I also have to leave my spot near the wall in an effort to keep my hearing.

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Then comes the singer and everyone goes bonkers. The synthesisers start ululating and the beats come down upon the audience. I was forewarned he had transformed into a dance happy act, but this is perplexing. With his sun glasses on his nose and his continuous clapping, I get the impression he’s become a full-time DJ. This probably wasn’t a concert for indieberlin to review.

Palestinian flag and politics

During the whole concert, audience members posted in the front rows keep shouting inaudibly towards him. I’m quite sure he said something about Palestine but it’s not easy figuring out what exactly. In addition, someone wandered through the room parading a Palestinian flag. I’m not hallucinating, this is turning political.

It is of course complicated to precisely determine what is going on. The reviewer doesn’t understand the language. I do hear him say “thank you” twice and that’s it. The performer claps his hands approximately two thirds of the time while going from one end of the stage to the other. His high pitched shouts and inviting hand gestures keep the audience raving.

Apart from that, the music is repetitive, the keyboard sounds close to perforating eardrums, and the whole show tiring. I leave the unpleasant concert before it ends.

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Review by Patrick Bird

Photo by Chris Jackson

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