Sufi’s, a small but charismatic space in Zamalek, was packed with people waiting to hear and encourage Nurah Farahat and Majid Hassan for a night of live covers performed in front of a cheering crowd.
Sufi’s is a charming, if slightly over the top place and often has a casual and laid back atmosphere. Last Thursday the place resonated with youthful energy and it was obvious the crowd was very familiar with each other.
Perhaps too familiar, however, because the live cover session seemed to be almost hastily put together, and received many interruptions by and interactions with the crowd. According to Farahat, the session was, in fact, hastily put together: “We were approached by a mutual friend who suggested we do this on a Thursday and here we are!” she said laughing.
Though there is something to be said about the spontaneity of both Farahat and Hassan, the result was not always positive. The interruptions from friends and the informal mood was at times a little too much and could have been alienating to those who showed up expecting an event, not a get-together under the guise of a ‘live covers session’.
That said, Farahat’s voice is beautiful and it comes alive when she hits low notes. Her live singing skills were very good considering her lack of musical training. The music itself was a little bit on the generic side, though that cannot be helped much since the songs were renditions, and not original music. The couple’s chemistry also bolstered the performance.
An interesting fact about Farahat is that she is training to be a professional clown. Though it is unclear what impact this has on her music, Farahat explains how she went about it: “I am going to become an assistant to a professional clown and help with shows. Right now, I am learning how to juggle!” Farahat also elaborated that it had been very simple to get this “internship”, you simply walk into a circus and you talk to the clown.
The couple’s most successful cover was of Abdel Halim Hafez’s “El Wesada El Khalya”, surprisingly enough. When announced, we were skeptic on how it would turn out but it was a big hit, with gorgeous vocals and humor.
All in all, most people had a good time, but the lack of organization and spontaneity did not lead to a comfortable environment, but rather got in the way of the performance. In fact, as we were talking to Farahat, she suddenly turned away, apparently losing interest, and started talking to friends, twice. Though both performers were nice enough and accessible, the whole event came off as impromptu in a way that went way beyond ‘fresh’ or ‘dynamic’.
The word to describe this event would be ‘casual’ because perhaps the point was for it not to be formal in anyway. Nevertheless, the informality felt a little distasteful despite the obvious talents that were performing.