Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre – Being a fan of Arabic music since 1996, Nawal al-Zoghbi is one of the most familiar names that I have ever known. I have great a penchant for Middle Eastern music. The sounds of ‘oud, ganoon, an-naay, gamboos and other sophisticated Arabian musical instruments can touch one’s heart with delirium. The harmonious tunes can either make one dwell in melancholy or dance in joy.
When I heard Nawal was coming to Malaysia, I knew that I could not afford to miss this opportunity because I had passed Kazem as-Saher and Amal Hijazy years ago . In case you did not know, Nawal al-Zoghbi is a famous Lebanese singer in the whole of Arabia since the 1990s with the likes of Amr Diab, Kazem as-Saher, Ragheb Alama, Najwa Karam, Wael Kfoury, Abdel Majed Abdullah and many more. Younger stars such as Nancy Ajram, Tamer Hosny or Haifa Wahby came only later in the new millennium. Despite of the new faces that come and go in the middle eastern music industry, Nawal’s popularity has successfully persisted with each of her subsequent albums and chart-topping songs.
Last Monday the beautiful songstress gave the audience a wonderful performance along with her 13-piece live band. The best part of her 90 minutes show was that her voice resonated the hall exactly how she sounds like on CD. Nawal has a very powerful voice and exerts a perpetual energetic aura while on stage. Most female arab singers do not move about much while singing because it takes a lot of energy, and their songs require great voice control to be sung. But Nawal can really sing and simultanously move around the stage without any difficulties.
Nawal spoke a little English expressing her gratitude for being able to meet her fans in Malaysia. I suppose her limited communication in English with the audience did not hinder them from singing along, clapping and nodding their heads throughout the show. Nawal, communicates best with the audience through her music.
She was really surprised when one of the audience made a request for a song, she said “Ya aghla habayeb, fi Malizia?” which more or less meant “You want me to sing THAT song (Ya aghla habayeb)? Here? In Malaysia?”. She did not expect the audience to know much of her songs. Still, Nawal had kindly obliged and told her band members to play Ya Aghla Habayeb to fulfill the audiences’ request. The way Nawal treats her audience really made them feel appreciated.
That night the hall was not fully filled as there were about four more blocks of seats to be filled. Tan Sri Jojo had offered the audience to move to the blocks that were closer to the stage and I managed to sit facing right in front of Nawal and her orchestra. The empty seats were not because Nawal not having a lot of fans in Malaysia. However, it was due to the lack of promotion of the concert. Unlike during Kazem, his concert banners were really well promoted at music stores and even at the IIUM where the Arab community were informed of the event. As in my case, I found out about Nawal’s show coincidentally on the internet, way before The Star had published a write up on her concert.
It is hoped that Nawal will come again to Malaysia with a grander performance and a better promotion of her event. Till then, I wish her well with her career and family always. Thank you for the breathtaking performance, Nawal habebty.