CAIRO: Wo yo yo and Ahhhahhh may not mean much to most people, but for fans attending Mohamed Mounir s Thursday night concert, these incoherencies signified the epitomes of joy and suffering.
Mounir played his expected emotional and socially-conscious ballads to an audience of devotees at The Opera House, just two days after his birthday. It was clear he hit all the right notes with his fans. A few hung from lampposts, many danced, and most waved. All sang.
One of the most popular performances of the evening was his heartfelt rendition of Ya Samra, (Dark Woman) exuding the desperation in love, and performed as though sung directly to the woman of his desire. Other favorites were Lama Niseem (When the Breeze Blows) and the vibrant Nubian Shamamdoura. Mounir did not neglect his trademark political contributions though, tackling various social issues like class and racism. He included his piece from Director Youssef Chahine s movie El-Masseer (Destiny), Law Batalna Nahlam Nemoot (If We Stop Dreaming, We Will Die) and his renowned anthem Haduta Masreya (An Egyptian Tale), which he, unfortunately, cut short.
Though much of the music expressed Egyptian hardships and frustrations, the encompassing theme was one of hope, resilience, and unity.
The over-20 crowd were treated to a special performance of Ya Lela Oudi Tany (Night, Come Back), featuring classy Mohamed El-Helw. Mounir said he was trying to persuade the renowned singer, known for his exquisite voice, not to leaving singing.
Mounir, now 52, is known for his mixed genres – Arabic, Nubi, Western, as well as more recent religious odes – and for keeping alive his Nubian culture, which was devastated after the Aswan High Dam project.
His personal style though, replete with gestures and two-steps, is his own, and it is this authenticity, along with his social consciousness that endears Mounir to his audiences.