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

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Place: Beiteddine
Mood: Enthusiastic
Song: Dance Me to the End of Love * Madeleine Peyroux

It all happens if you believe in magic. Unfortunately, if you don't then you're missing on a lot of matters. A tad lot of things can be experienced only if you believe in the power of magic to transcend you into another realm.

And here are two perfect examples of pure magic, in completely different settings.

Last night, on the 22nd of July during the Beiteddine Festival in Southern Lebanon, came an enchantress whose enthralling voice could transpose you into her own personal universe. And one could only enter her realm if he believed in magic.

I was introduced to the music of Madeleine Peyroux exactly a year ago by my dear friend Oskar while on a trip to Iceland. I was instantly charmed by the distinct voice of this lady who reminded me in a strange way of Billie Holiday. And in a couple of months, I got my hands on her three albums, eventually purchasing her latest upon its release. And when I knew she would be performing in Lebanon, I couldn't but get tickets instantly.

Madeleine Peyroux said she had been long awaiting to sing in Lebanon. And finally she was here, performing a seemingly short yet consistent one and a half hour set.

While the beginning was slow (the first couple of songs did not ring strong with the audience), it all fell into place gradually, leaving the audience asking for more. The folksy singer alternated between jazz and blues, sometimes mixing the two and reaching different heights with each song. She interacted with her band, was extremely chatty (in French and English) with the audience, and smiled throughout her set.

She played songs from each of her 4 studio albums, from the delicious "I'm All Right" (which she introduced as "a cheerful breakup song") from her masterpiece Half the Perfect World (2006), to the oh-so-touching "This Is Heaven to Me" from her equally brilliant Careless Love (2004) as well as songs from her debut 1996 album Dreamland including the encore "Walkin' After Midnight". She also introduced new songs from her latest album (Bare Bones, 2008) such as the extended yet still impactful version of "Instead", the album opener, during which she presented her four-piece band).

But some of her real treats were the covers of her mentors Leonard Cohen (the exquisite "Dance Me to the End of Love") and Bob Dylan ("You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome") which both got raving applause, as well as two well-known French tunes, "J'ai Deux Amours" and the singalong finale "La Vie en Rose".

My personal favorite of the night had to be her rendition of Serge Gainsbourg's "La Javanaise" which already is flawless on CD. Yet last night, it was ethereal and much more intimate with the whole band joining Peyroux in half a circle facing the audience.

And while I believe the concert in itself was not extraordinary, it was what was needed to "dance to the end of love." And if you had that pinch of magic that was conveyed by Peyroux throughout her performance, then you sure were delighted as much as I was last night.

Shifting into another kind of magic, a Natural one this time. Or rather a celestial one. The July 22nd Solar Eclipse which was visible totally in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, China and up to Japan.

Believed to be the longest total eclipse of the 21st century and clocking at 6 minutes and 39 seconds at its longest, it was seen by millions who traveled to witness it, particularly to India where many aimed at taking a spiritual bath in the sacred waters of the Ganges River just as the eclipse was happening, as you can see on the photo below taken in Varanasi, India, where the Ganges was flooded with visitors (photo credit bluerasberry/Wikipedia).

There, superstitious astrologers were defying scientists by presenting the nefarious consequences of the eclipse, usually thought to bring bad omens in ancient times.

But whether one believes in these omens or not, one cannot but contemplate the sheer beauty that is presented to his eyes, especially with the coming of the diamond ring spectacle.

Ain't that magic too?

(photo by Lutfar Rahman Nirjhar from Bangladesh)

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Anonymous ├ôskar said...

I would love to see Madeleine Peyrouz live on stage. Have a nice weekend.

Your friend in Iceland,


1:56 PM, July 24, 2009  

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