Most people would not associate a 19-year-old who grew up listening to alternative grunge as a person who would view Ebi with a reverence beating that of anyone gracing the cover of Rolling Stone. However, my idea of vocal perfection can only be equated to the voice of an Iranian pop icon, and Ebi's live show last night was nothing short of amazing.
Despite the fact that Ebi followed the tradition of making his presence on PST (Persian Standard Time; i.e. an hour late), his performace made the wait worthwhile.
The audience was comprised of mostly middle-aged Armani-clad men and women who blended rather well with the pitch black backdrop lighting of the Alex Theater. People filed into the venue clutching lavish handbags, and some were silly enough to wear Channel sunglases indoors. But we were all there to see the same person, and that made me not want to make fun of them. (Okay well, maybe not, but it did make me think about sparing them my “zeereh zaboon” commentary.)
One of the most astonishing aspects of the evening did not have anything to do with the name printed on the ticket. This surprise was provided by the opening act which made the men howl and women grimace with a “hmph!” of disgust. At 8:45, the lights dimmed, and out strutted the likes of 5 young women who looked a lot like what strippers might start off an evening (or so I hear).
All five of the women were not the least bit Iranian, or Middle Eastern for that matter. They wore carefully chosen costumes that included hip-hugger jeans (I mean HUGGER in every sense of the word), and sequined backless bra tops. The quintet proceeded to croon nameless songs that seemed to be nothing more than an excuse to caress their scantaly clad bodies and pout their lips while attempting to “dance”.
Some men may argue that I might be bitter because of the attention that these types of women get. But I know better than that, and this act had no place whatsoever in Ebi's night to entertain. I don't know who they were or where these women came from, but they sure looked like they missed the exit leading to amateur night at a titty bar. When the men were finished with their cat calls and the women had finished shaking thier heads in disgust, the real show was ready to begin.
Following more than an hour of anticipation with words like “Ebi Jaan, kojaayee?” being yelled from the back row, Ebi emerged from behind the curtain and began the concert with his song ” Setaarehaayeh aabee“. He was expectedly well dressed, sporting a suit and tie, adding that he never knows why he always comes out in a jacket, given that he always ends up taking it off…
The evening continued with an energy packed performance as all of our favorites were sung from the deepest pocket of Ebi's soul. One of the more comical moments was when he paused in the middle of a song and turned to the side, gazing above. I thought that the keyboardest had made a musical error, but we later found out that Ebi had forgotten the words to his song! I thought that was a bit astonishing, but he played along with the irony of not knowing his song and later sang the deleted verse in acapella while the audience squeeled with cheers of support.
After accepting his gifts of Johny Walker (red AND black lables, I might add), and providing something like a speech before every song, Ebi reminded the audience that he only had 30 more minutes and that he was going do his best to make it memorable. The last few songs of the concert brought tears to my eyes as my favorite “Geryeh nakon” was brought to life and the concert came to an end.
Ebi did not disappoint, and anyone that has ever seen him live knows that he is truly talented and quite a character. (This can be seen in his signature exclamations of “JOOOOOOONOM.. .and MASHAALAAAAAAAAAH”, that let evreyone know that you are watching no one other than the man himself.
I cant wait until he visits the City of Angels again, but next time, I hope Ebi ditches the bimbos and gets an act with somthing more than just T&A to do the honor of opening the show.