Massar Egbari's music is about both dealing with this seemingly unavoidable fate as well as its tendency to trip all those who try to veer from its path.
On 25 March, the concert was set to begin at 2pm, yet despite the band being present and ready they wound up starting their set at 3:30pm, suffering a host of technical difficulties and playing only for roughly an hour.
Then, singer Ahmed Saad took over the stage, fact which had not been mentioned in the event programme. All way through it was obvious there were various organisational issues that the administration at Al-Azhar Park would do well to address in future.
Nonetheless, all difficulties aside, the concert itself was delightful – as expected from Massar Egbari. The level of cheery goodwill between the band and Cairene fans - who blaze the band’s successful path - was heart-warming.
It's rather easy to understand why this Alexandrian band, fresh from their recent success in Ahmad Abdallah's film Microphone, have such a wide and faithful fan base, despite the gravity of their lyrics: their music manages to retain a piquant sense of humour that laughs off troubles in a quintessentially Egyptian way, never giving in to bitterness or temptations to sermonise.
Their music is a seamless weave of a number of musical styles with elements of oriental percussion. It incorporates a type of rock that we’d expect Mark Knopfler to have composed after a lengthy stay in Egypt. It certainly has a similar sense of irreverent fun, especially in songs like “Deh Mesh Tareeqa,” (This is not the way) which jibes at selfishness after an unforgettable circus-y guitar intro. And let’s not forget the audience favourite “Ekrah el Khabar” (Read the news) that was featured in Microphone.
“Ekrah el Khabar” shows off lead singer Hany Dakaks’ wonderful showmanship and storytelling abilities. He eases into a particular connection with the audience with no pretentiousness – something rarely seen in the Egyptian underground scene. One feels that the way he sings is probably the same way he conducts a conversation over a glass of mint tea at the local ahwa (coffee shop).
Staying true to their Alexandrian roots, the concert did not lack some rock arrangements of Sayed Darwish classics. The band concluded with the goose bump-inducing “Mersal li habibty” (Messenger for my love) – originally based on a poem by Ashraf Tawfic - featuring the spectacular vocal talent of Aly Helbawy. The song is a glimmering account of longing and the enriching power of true love that Helbawy’s potent crooning brings home with deep force, rounding off the show and leaving one wondering when these exceptional talents will be given the fate they deserve and not the fate they are obliged to endure.