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Dhafer Youssef

Last night Mr W and I went to see Dhafer Youssef at the Howard Assembly Rooms in Leeds.

Everything about it was eclectic. Audience: Hebden Bridge to the Music School and back to North Leeds. Instruments: piano, drums, double base, electric guitar, electric oud and north African vocals. Band nationalities: Tunisian, Estonian, Norwegian, French (?) and …. the double base player was from Sunderland. Dhafer didn’t quite get it when the audience had a little laugh at that. Although Sunderland does sounds v exotic when pronounced with soft Tunisian-French overtones.

I didn’t know what an Oud was before I went to this concert. Yep, I admit I thought of the Doctor Who alien with the globes in their hands and tentacle faces – which is amazing in itself because I don’t even watch Doctor Who. (No3 step-daughter’s constant lectures on her future-husband-Matt-Smith must be seeping in. Worrying). The Instrument looks like a giant lute, reminiscent of a giant halved pear. For a split second you have culture shock thinking of Elizabethan part songs. But it makes a completely different sound, echoed and sad and to me evocative of the great sweeping landscape shots in Lawrence of Arabia, or the old walled towns I saw on holidays to Tunisia with my parents when I was a teenager. And yes, I know Lawrence isn’t North Africa but I have limited terms of personal reference for desert…

I love to see folks enjoy themselves on stage too, and all of the guys obviously did. I didn’t catch the name of the pianist, but he was wonderful. It was good when we were told what the songs were – pity he only introduced two. Apparently one was about wine, completely unguessable.

It was really enjoyable, and a great addition to the interesting range of concerts Mr W has taken me too. I see Dhafer has done some stuff with Tigran Hamasyan. Now that would be a great concert…

Dhafer Youssef at Howard Assembly Rooms


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