Namjoo in San Francisco: Aah, keh intor...


Namjoo in San Francisco:  Aah, keh intor...
by Nazy Kaviani

My ears, my mind, and my heart were treated to a very special gift last night. I went to see Mohsen Namjoo in his first concert on his US tour. In my lifetime, having been fortunate enough to have had many artist friends, I have been treated to many first night performances on stage. There is something electrifying about the level of excitement of artists and organizers on an "opening night." Artists who have practiced and rehearsed sometimes for months come out in their as yet new costumes to share their ambitions and their dreams and their art with the world which has on that night sent out 100, 500, or 3,000 representatives to go see that performance and go tell everybody else about it. On an opening night, some things which have not been caught during the rehearsals may also go wrong, creating temporary mayhem and confusion which is soon sorted out, giving the audience the delight of having been privy to them! [See photo essay]

So much has been said about Mohsen Namjoo and his music and the not-so-quiet revolution he has started on the Iranian music front. His effect on me has been spellbinding. The traditional Iranian music lover in me connects to Namjoo's expert knowledge of that music, and the rebel inside me who never grows up devours the unorthodox way in which he approaches the marriage of Persian music and poetry. He shocks me and then quickly disarms me. He sings those unpredictable and changing melodies, and I find myself growing more willing to dare, keeping up with his courage.

I was surprised and happy to know that Beyond Persia had actually pulled off getting Namjoo to US a few weeks ago. I couldn’t wait to go see him perform. The night before the concert, I had the good fortune of meeting Namjoo at my friends, Shadi and Ardalan Payvar's home in San Francisco. The impression I developed of him was one of a very quiet and somewhat shy man, full of observation with few outward words. His humble and down-to-earth demeanor was touching. Just before he said good-bye to leave that night, I said to him "Mr. Namjoo, I wish you success on your concert tomorrow night. I'll be in the audience, sending you good vibes!" He said to me: "Please do. I will need them."

I showed up to his opening concert in San Francisco with a large group of my friends and family last night. The thing that had me confused about the concept of this concert in the discussions I had had with my friends, was the "solo" in "Mohsen Namjoo Solo." I was thinking how could he get up on that stage all alone and play the music we had customarily heard on his CD's with a music band, backup singers, and what seemed like a lot of overlaying audio effects.

I wasn't prepared to be shocked and disarmed by Namjoo again! Sure enough, he was solo! It was just him and his multiple string instruments on that cavernous stage at San Francisco's remarkable Palace of Fine Arts. So simple, so austere, so solo! In retrospect, what did I expect? That the Namjoo we have seen on video clips many times, with those compassionate and satirical lyrics, with his simultaneously simple and complex outlook to the world, would show up with a huge glittering band and backup singers in a sequined suit?!! There were no big, boring introductions, no one else vying to steal his spotlight, no opening words from him...he just started singing for us.

For the thousandth time, Namjoo's music made me think, laugh, and cry--nothing new there. Namjoo, himself, however, is now etched in my memory as one of the most original and awesome live performers I have ever seen. He delivered many of his memorable songs with passion and energy. He is remarkable in that he also delivered what I had previously thought to be "overlaying special effects" all by himself during the songs! The audience was reacting to him in unusual ways, too. Some people were singing along. Some “Namjoo Heads” were loud and boisterous in the anticipation for his famous pace changes and punch lines, cheering him on. Were those embarrassed chuckles I heard from the audience when he delivered some of his lyrics? I had never been to a performance where the audience loved the artist and laughed during his performance at the same time! There it was, that element of shock and disarm and surrender, a familiar reaction to Namjoo’s music.

For those of you who might be fortunate enough to catch one of his upcoming concerts in Washington DC, New York, San Diego, and Los Angeles, I just have one small insight. Though he appears solo, there is nothing solo in Namjoo’s performance. For every single one of the people in the audience were on that stage with him, singing, thinking, understanding, and enjoying his music. Don’t miss it!

* Namjoo's music page on //
* Aah keh intor
video clip:  //
* Top photo by Jahanshah Javid. See photo essay
* Visit: //


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Another Report

by Siamak Birooni (not verified) on

Thanks for the nice article Nazy!
For those who missed it, they can see a report here //


Thanks Nazy jan for your

by ahmadhedayat (not verified) on

Thanks Nazy jan for your review. I listened to Namjoo for first time about 18 months ago starting with "zolf bar bad"; loved that song and have been listening it since then. I also like some of other his songs, particularly those he has written the lyrics: dahe-shast ...

I wonder if there is a chance a performance can be scheduled for Dallas area!? Or Austin?

Nazy Kaviani

Thank you

by Nazy Kaviani on

Thank you all for your kind comments. Namjoo is an acquired taste, one that once acquired becomes understandable and addictive. I have observed that process in myself and in my college-age kids who in between all the other music they listen to have found a space for his music. They were at the concert enjoying themselves as much as I was. I hope you can make it to his concerts and see him on stage and decide for yourselves. Thanks again.

P.S. Ebi Jan, I read in Bruce Bahmani's feature that no ticket sales are available at the venue in DC. Make sure you buy your tickets before the concert night. Enjoy!

ebi amirhosseini

Irandokht aziz !

by ebi amirhosseini on

It takes time & I had the same feelings a few years back that I heard about him(specially since I played Se taar & was against anything but the traditions!!),but he will grow on you.well,exactly like Bob Dylan,who never made it here in US,& was discovered after performing in England.But I believe the best person to compare him with is : the legendry Jimmy Hendrix.My wife was & is a die heart fan of him & has been to some of his concerts,so at first I was introduced to him by my wife,who just got no feelings for Hendrix from me,but it took sometime for me to feel how she felt for him,& now I am a fan of him too,but not die heart one as my wife!.

best wishes


Nazy jan

by IRANdokht on

As you already know, I haven't "got" Namjoo yet. I do admire the courage of anyone who breaks out from the norm and takes risks, but I have to get used to a style before I can enjoy it. I see that as my own shortcoming of course.

Your review was so well written that I had to go back and listen to him some more. You really did a great job describing him, his style, his growing and loyal audience, the way he's grown popular with so many. I needed that to know why some of my friends are so devoted to this man.

Who knows, maybe I even go see him when he's performing here, if the show's not sold out already...





by ladan Khalili (not verified) on

Thanks Nazy, This is a great review. I agree with you that the concert was fantastic because he is so engaging and unusual.

It would be a shame for anyone remotely interested in alternative music, or Persian music and literature to miss this show.

I actually prefer his own clever lyrics to the tried and true Hafez he also sings. The guy is a breath of fresh air. Really.

bajenaghe naghi

nazy jan

by bajenaghe naghi on

thank you for your great review and the links. as usual i missed another persian gathering. not healthy to be a hermit as maryam keeps reminding me. thank you again. 


Missed it so badly!

by Ye Irani (not verified) on

Thank you so much for the coverage;
He is a true artist to me since he beats on the feelings of today's Irani hearts and make those feelings so real and touchable!



what songs did he sing?

by azadi55 (not verified) on

thanks for the review. What songs did he sing? did he sing Toranj?

ebi amirhosseini

Nazy Jaan

by ebi amirhosseini on

Thanks for giving us a very good analysis of him,I can't wait till he comes to D.C & "arms & disarms" us as he did you there.Since I used to play Se taar myself,it always amazes me how he can in one minute play it tender as Zendeh Yaad Ebaadi playing Se Taar & another minute strong & passionate like Maestro Lotfi,playing Taar?!

No wonder,New York Times called him " Bob Dylan of Iran",I believe!.

sepaas bikaraan