Having only been in residence in Muscat for a few months, I am still on a newcomer’s voyage of discovery of the live music scene. Initially, I didn’t think there was one. I asked around on arrival and I was told that Cliff Richard was soon to perform at the Royal Opera House Muscat; much as I liked Cliff Richard back in the day, it wasn’t quite what I meant. But gradually, I am peeling back the layers of this busy, bright city to reveal a hidden gem of rock and folk music (I’ll let you know when I stumble across any other genres – I am certain they are here somewhere!).
So when I went out a couple of weeks ago, having made an arrangement to meet friends at ‘a bar where you can dance’, I was unaware that I was about to attend a gig. I raised an eyebrow or two at the entrance fee, mumbling that there were other bars ‘where you can dance’ that do not require an entrance fee. That said, it was clearly one of the smarter hostelries in town, proffering that typically Muscat hospitality of a cornucopian supply of peanuts with your beverages (guaranteed to make you drink more of course, as your mouth starts to feel like the surrounding desert) and popcorn also. Not a personal favourite, but my friends enjoyed it and I managed to avoid telling them how wasteful their posh fragrances were, because all I could smell on them was popcorn.
But when a four-strong band hit the stage and confidently started to throw out some cool nostalgia, I realised that I had paid to see a live rock band.
They had me at ‘Turn Back Time’ but then they had me a bit more with ‘Creep’ and then again with ‘Losing My Religion’.
When we reached ‘Breakfast at TIffany’s’, one of my friends commented that it was a good song.
‘You know this song?’
‘Yes!’ he said, while his friend laughed.
‘No,’ he admitted, ‘I never heard it in Pakistan but I can like it if I want!’
Absolutely – and testament to a good song – moreover a good cover of a good song, that you can hear it for the first time and like it.
Pink Floyd … Bob Marley … Police … this band has boundless energy and a repertoire to match. I started to jot down the songs but I was there for a drink and a boogie so when there was the inevitable migration from the edges to the dance floor at the centre, I joined my fellow revellers to start my weekend.
I recall a crescendo of Queen and Bon Jovi however, as I danced Thursday night into Friday morning and I was glad that they were playing covers, because much as I love original music, people don’t always dance to little-known songs.
Front man Tarek Khorshid is a powerhouse; flanked by fellow guitarist Adil and bass player Ashraf, he is ably supported by equally powerful musicians. But then my favourite – because he posed and smiled for my picture whilst continuing to maintain that all-important beat at the back of the stage – Akbar on the drums. The newest addition to the band apparently and clearly only there because his name begins with an ‘A’, but what a stroke of luck that he turned out to be as talented as the other three.
The T-Band: worth checking out every other Thursday at Route 66 and other venues and more than just a rock band – it’s just that they played mostly rock when I saw them!
Route 66: worth checking out at the weekend for a classy boogie and pleasant outlook over Shatti beach
Reviewed by Lisa O’Connor at Route 66 on Thursday 16th November 2017