Mashrou’ Leila, The stars of Beirut

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The most famous indie band in the entire Middle East. In less than ten years the Mashrou Leila have managed to establish themselves in the whole region and become a symbol of contradictions.

The stars of Beirut

The Mashrou ‘Leila are probably one of the most particular groups in all of Lebanon and the Middle East. Born from 5 university students from Beirut, the group has been able to establish itself thanks to its unique rhythm, halfway between the “gypsy” notes typical of Armenia and the US indie, and the strong personalities of its members, Hamed Sinno above all.

Just the latter, as a homosexual, pushed the band to deal personally with issues related to the LGBT world, transforming the group into a symbol of tolerance and freedom for the entire Arab world.

Mashrou'Leila
Mashrou’Leila

Strong themes and gypsy rhythm

In general, the Mashrou Leila face the problems of young Arabs, placing particular emphasis against all the impositions typical of Middle Eastern society. There are pieces on homosexuality, marriage and nightlife, in addition to those dedicated to figures typical of Arab countries such as “Djinn”.

Mashrou'Leila
Mashrou Leila in concert

The rhythm is always very recognizable and particular and has its roots in the Armenian community of Beirut, best represented by the violinist Haig Papazian, founder of the band. In addition to the violins giving Caucasian rhythms, however, we also have a basic base that is very reminiscent of the Ottoman melodies, not Arab enough to compare with Fairouz, nor African enough to remember one Cheb Khaled. However, everything works and each piece is very recognizable both for the rhythm and the sensations it leaves.

Relaxed indie

Mashrou Leila is the band I would recommend to anyone who wants to spend an evening with friends, something intellectual, relaxed and creative. The group is increasingly proving to be the most interesting alternative reality in the Middle East, as well as one of the ones that has been bringing positive feedback from “the West” for the longest time.

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