This past week has been a fun one in case you’re a Rock fan roaming the Lebanese coast: from GBOB’s Promo #2 event at Nova Pub – Beirut this past Saturday April 16th, I headed up north to the town of Batroun, mostly known for its popular nightclubs and sleepless nights. One of its most famous nightclubs is Centro, a venue usually dominated by electronic music and parties ending at dawn. Not surprisingly, this was my first time at Centro but I was certainly not there to party ’till I drop; I was there to support Madjera, a Lebanese band rocking where Rock is a rarity, Metal is alienated and metalheads are scarce.
For starters, the show kicked off a bit late due to the football game being showed at the time on several screens around the pub (in Batroun, ‘a bit late’ means past midnight). Still, Madjera went onstage with a fresh lineup (better guitarists), different from their gig at Barbacane pub in Jbeil some months earlier. Indeed, it was obvious from a metal medley (Slayer, Metallica, Megadeath, Maiden…) played later on that night to our appreciation and content that Madjera isn’t a newly formed band hitting the pubs for some quick cash: they know how to entertain a crowd with sing-alongs, percussion show and extended solos. The band may not have played the most innovative and ‘fresh’ playlist I’ve ever listened to but they still managed to get us to sing along and enjoy our time with Metallica, Guns N’ Roses and other classics. Aside from covers, a couple of originals were also played but as the show approached the two hour margin, problems caught up with the pub’s sound as we also became tiresome at 3 AM. Still, you couldn’t but notice potential and effort put into both songs, which are thrashy with good choruses and riffs led by guitarist Ziad Baydoun. Hopefully we’ll hear some quality studio recordings in the near future.
My primary concern for this band is their future direction and overall focus: their playlist needs to be updated with fresh tracks and better ordering of the songs (playing your originals first when listeners aren’t already weakened by sound and booze is a must). Madjera is maybe one of the few bands in Batroun, probably the only major one, but they are not to be taken lightly hence my high expectations from future gigs, hoping that songs such as “Hotel California” become strictly ‘karaoke’ material and not a part of most local pub bands’ playlist.
It was quite funny to see some of the local pub goers cheer the band and attempt to headbang to no avail 😛 It was also noticeable that good rock shows could be successfully organized in Batroun which makes good news for Northern rock/metal fans who want a variety of event locations. From my perspective, I hope these local events keep getting better and better and although the ‘writing original material‘ wave has yet to fully caught up with everyone, it’s comforting to see that the ‘Metal flame’ is still alive up north.