The Universe. Some scratches of Beryllium. Diving. The Navel of the Galaxies. Maybe god. Maybe the void. Maybe you. Maybe it's just cryptical

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Absolute (A) LIVE

Place: Metropolis Cinema
Song: One Way or Another * Blondie

"The time I like is the rush hour, cos I like the rush
The pushing of the people - I like it all so much
Such a mass of motion - do not know where it goes
I move with the movement and... I have the touch"
from the song "I Have the Touch" by Peter Gabriel

Let's talk about it, shall we?

Well, I have always dreamed to eradicate that month out of my agenda. And yeah, I still do. It has always been the busiest month for me all year round, since three years now, refusing to let me rest for good. But somehow I always enjoy it. It makes me come Alive.

March was the nightmare this time. I was co-organizing two events that would take place at Metropolis in April, the first being the fifth edition of Les Ecrans du Reel, a documentary film festival organized with the French Cultural Mission (April 1-10), and the second being Michelangelo Antonioni: Identification of a Filmmaker, a retrospective on the late renowned Italian filmmaker who died in 2007, in partnership with the Italian Cultural Institute and supported by the European Union.

The work was nothing short of exhausting. From the press to the visual material to the preparations, the website, the mailing and yes, even Facebook takes a roll call. Dealing with the journalists, the printing company, the avid fans, it feels like you're in a whirlwind that is pushing you a bit more until the event is there.

And when it is there, you know there's no turning back. You forget the tiredness, you forget your office work and you just hit the cinema. It's like a performer. He's someone in the studio and when performing live, he'll be someone else (But we'll talk about that later on).

So after the decor is set, the movie is ready, the people are getting their tickets. You get to greet them, ask them if what they saw the night before (because some of our beloved spectators come every night, no matter the film, and for that we thank them), ask what they're most excited to see next... This whole chat can be so heartfelt and this is what makes our work so much of a platform to talk about the films rather than being a dull place where you get to see the film and leave. And this is what makes the whole thing come Alive.

During the Ecrans du Reel I got to introduce most of the films in Arabic while Benedicte from the French Cultural Mission would do the talk in French. At first I saw myself translating what she would say. But then I thought it was more interesting to make my own presentation in Arabic rather than repeat what she's saying. So I had to research the film, the director, improve my Arabic... And that's part of the process...

And then I had to present the General Delegate of the Marseilles International Documentary Film Festival, Jean-Pierre Rehm, which I thought was a moment in itself. He's such a mastermind, kind of a film encyclopedia of sorts and I felt odd being there next to him. But then when the first words are pronounced, you let yourself go, and that's when everything gets Alive.

And so the whole thing ran smoothly. The first event is over, the second has kicked off this week (more about the Antonioni retrospective in a later post).

But comes the unexpected next. Last Friday I was off duty during the day. So I randomly met two British who were on a surprise visit to Beirut. I agreed to take them on the shortest tour ever because they were running out of time.
So we went to Harissa, with people I have never seen in my whole life, and had a supremely amazing moment. It's odd when you meet acquaintances like that and everything falls into place. I felt like I have known these persons all my life and enjoyed every second with them even though it felt in terms of real time, less than seconds. Moments like these are what make a person feel Alive.

And to conclude this post in beauty, I chose five live songs that I have been listening to a lot lately and they keep me jumping up and down and constantly excited and awake. Sometimes an artist is not that interesting in the studio. And this is why you have to see him or hear his live performances to make a proper judgment on him. Here are my choices for fine live and funky renditions:

01. So Lonely * live (by The Police) live in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil [December 08, 2007]

02. Bouncing off Clouds * live (by Tori Amos) live in Indianapolis, USA [November 02, 2007]

03. Reach Out for the Sunrise * live (by Duran Duran) – live in Buenos Aires, Argentina [March 12, 2003]

04. One Way or Another * live (by Blondie) – live at Glastonbury, England [June 25, 1999]

05. Just Can't Get Enough * live (by Depeche Mode) live in Milan, Italy [February 18, 2006]

These five songs seemed like a much-needed blood injection in March/April. This version of Police's So Lonely quickly became my anti-depression anthem. The only person who's more fiery than Sting (save his personalized vocals) is the drummer. He's simply wild. The whole second part is made of win. Oh and the studio version pales in comparison!

And while we're onto poorly produced studio versions, let's talk about Tori's Bouncing off Clouds. Live, it takes a whole different dress. The drums are much funkier, the vocals powerful and the synths are much more audible. That and of course Dan Phelps' guitars kick Mac Aladdin in the butt! And that last vocal... *swooooooooons*

For Duran Duran, I should have chosen the epic Wild Boys. But who needs the Wild Boys when you can Reach out for the Sunrise. I really like this version. So melodic and groovy.

Next we head for Blondie's One Way or Another. I like how live it builds up to a climax with the drums and vocals combo race fighting for the win.

And finally, Depeche Mode's Just Can't Get Enough. Because, let's face it, neither them nor their fans can't get enough of this song. It's always great that this almost 30-year old hit still manages to capture the crowds and engage them in one of the most memorable sing along ever! And the trio seems to have a blast when performing this one too, so yeah. Just can't get enough!

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