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Fairouz in concert
Fairouz in concert

Fairouz on Stage again

(DP-News – The Daily Star)

BEIRUT- Living in a society steeped in politics, the Lebanese often find it hard to agree on even the most basic of principles. But the Lebanese are nearly unanimous on their love for Fairouz.

On the first night of her series of four concerts this month, more than 3,800 people flocked to Sahel Alma’s Platea to watch the living legend perform, and relive forgotten memories.



On the cold evening, she was dressed in jeweled white as she performed most of her timeless songs. As usual, she stood motionless on stage, but the crowd engaged with every tune, clapping and dancing, although silence descended as she began her numbers.



She performed only two songs from her latest album “Eh Fi Amal,” which was produced by her son Ziad Rahbani.

There’s no passivity in a Fairouz audience. The fans screamed as she sang about an abandoned Lebanese village, and fell silent seconds later as she asked: “Who did you leave it for?”



For some in the audience, Fairouz represented the only light in the dark Civil War days, as she sang for Lebanon, a country then buried under odium. Her songs “gave us hope that one day Beirut would have peace again,” said Munir, a 72-year-old member of Friday’s audience, holding tightly on to a wooden cane as he walked to his seat with the help of his son.

“I remember listening to her songs on a tiny radio under heavy shelling,” he said. Munir’s eyes filled with tears even as Fairouz performed a cheerful number, in which she asks a paper plane to remain a child forever.



And for millions of expatriates, some of whom had flown from different parts of the world to attend Friday’s show, Fairouz is Lebanon. “I was born and raised in Dubai. My dad used to play Fairouz for us every morning on our way to school. It was the closest thing to Lebanon I owned,” Hisham, 27, said. He still treasures his old cassettes.



This year, Fairouz sang for Arab countries, and especially for Syria. “If we don’t stay up late in Beirut, we will do it in Sham [a synonym for Syria],” Fairouz sang.

Appreciation of this mention of their troubled country was noticeable among many of the Syrians in the crowd. One woman said her heart ached when Fairouz mentioned “Sham.”

Even the most rigid of politicians moved to Fairouz’s music, alongside their stiffer bodyguards.



Free Patriotic Movement chief Michel Aoun, known for his somewhat serious demeanor, said he could not help but stamp his feet and clap along to the woman he calls his favorite artist. “Fairouz accompanied me in my young days,” Aoun said, smiling, before turning to greet supporters.

“I enjoy her music a lot … she is truly one of a kind,” he added.



Former Prime Minister Salim Hoss said he would not have missed Friday’s show for the world.

“Fairouz represents high-end art and humility. She is a national treasure,” said the 82-year-old Hoss.

By the end of a magical concert, the audience gathered in front of the stage, clapping in excitement and appreciation, and calling for one more song.

And so she did.

“Tomorrow, I’ll come back and stand with you,” she sang. “Just speak to me and I will hear you, even from afar.”



During her final bow, one man snuck past security, grabbed Fairouz’s hand, knelt and kissed it twice.

He acted on behalf of all the audience.



Fairouz will perform Dec. 16 and 17 at the Platea Theater in Sahel Alma, Lenbanon.

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