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A Look Inside Saint Levant and Bayou’s London Gig

The duo also announced a joint project

To no one’s surprise, it’s another cloudy evening in London. The sun has just gone down, but it’s been looking dark and gloomy for a handful of long hours already. It’s almost as if last month’s historic heatwave had never occurred in the first place. We’re even met at The Grace, a cozy live music bar in the heart of Islington, London, by light drizzle. But once inside the venue, the British capital’s frigid temperatures quickly rose as the evening’s men of the hour, namely rising stars Saint Levant and Bayou, were gearing up for what has already been labeled as one of the hottest nights of the summer by concert-goers in Paris the preceding night. 

The clock is about to strike seven, formal introductions are finally over, and we’ve already confronted the heat that’s about to make its way on stage for the duo’s first appearance in the United Kingdom, and second in Europe. Backstage, Saint Levant is making good use of his resistance band and enjoying a refreshment when the rest of the team, including Bayou, is going through the last-minute preparations, which includes lots of laughing and bantering.

At the same time, fans and concert-goers enjoying their last puffs outside before stepping into the venue, could be overheard lamenting Felukah’s absence tonight, although she performed alongside the two boys, as well as Tunisian rapper Koast, in the Iron Lady’s 20th arrondissement, at La Flèche D’or to be precise, the evening before. Little did they know though, the Egyptian rising star secretly tagged along and was scheduled to give a surprise guest performance that only the team behind-the-scenes was aware of at this point. 

Back inside, the excitement was nearly tangible. Saint Levant— clad in his usual baggy trousers, white tank top, and fluffy bucket hat, which was custom-made by Serag Elmeleigy from Suez Studios for the occasion— Bayou, Felukah, and Marek Razzouk, their manager, huddled into a circle backstage for pre-concert prayers and rituals to ward off the evil eye. Considering how the night eventually played out, they would be all the wiser to keep on doing whatever they were doing.  

Bayou runs on stage, and the turmoil reaches its first peak. All eyes are on him as he grabs the microphone and starts serenading the crowd with the heartfelt lullabies and hip-moving bops from his diverse discography. The eclectic crowd is in tune with the genre-bending artist, singing almost word for word to each verse, riff and hook being played. That night, we had another contestant for the title of “King Of Cairo” come on stage to assert his influence and velvet vocals to a scene that is growing by the day. For an introduction of his craft to the UK, it’s safe to say that the target was met as the young Egyptian left the room buzzing before Saint Levant’s hotly-anticipated appearance. 

saint levant collab

But to the audience’s pleasant surprise, it was Felukah that emerged into the middle of the stage, taking control of the mic to promote her own upcoming gig, taking place on August 6, and to perform some of her catchy tunes

What felt like a treat was eventually topped by Saint Levant’s entry onto the stage, quickly making the room roar and shake with excitement. The Palestinian flag-bearer’s time has finally come, and by the sound of hundreds of screaming voices, everyone was ready for it. 

Passionate and well-aware of what was going on at the present moment, the artist embraced the circulating energy to deliver a debut performance people won’t soon forget. With his inimitable range, talent, and a suave attitude, it’s at this point that people, including the man himself, start realizing that he’s not far from reaching the peak of his potential although, the road is still long. 

Following his memorable performance, there was still one more surprise in store for the audience. Quickly jumping backstage to shave, put on a suit, and call Bayou back on stage with him, the duo reappeared with an announcement that got the crowd ecstatic. The two Arab stars revealed they have a collaborative project in store that will see the day of light sooner rather than later. Titled Here and There, the two usually-solo-artists confessed that this project was tailor-made for third-culture kids, sharing their own experiences of living across the world to fellow Arabs that adamantly relate and subscribe to the sonic narrative. Rejuvenating the old to give birth to a new understanding of “new,” Bayou and Saint Levant teased a few tracks, and gave their own spin on Amr Diab’s cult favorite Amarein

If anyone had any doubts about the richness of the Middle East’s musical landscape, July 30 was a firsthand testament of the kind of talent emerging from the Arab world. Connections, or should we say friendships, were forged between all artists involved as well as concert-goers who could be heard promising to meet up the next time either of the two trailblazing singers decide to organize another show in the British capital. 

The night followed its course with Saint Levant and Bayou both lending themselves to photos, posing and exchanging with fans that made the trek all the way to North London to see the artists perform.

While it’s true that some things could have been better managed— at many points throughout the night we could hear the artists lose their voice, or not have enough microphones to pass around — but that was the beauty of it all. It added onto the authenticity of the show, how passionate these guys are trying to, on one hand make it, and on the other, represent the region no matter what. And for that, we say thank you. 


Photos: courtesy of Ammar Tolba (@ammarrtolba)

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