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Elyanna’s Live Performance Leaves Audience in Tears: NYC Tour Review 

posted on: Feb 14, 2024

By: Malak Hassouna / Arab America Contributing Writer 

In 2023, we witnessed Elyanna’s rise to fame, highlighted by her historic performance at the Coachella Music Festival. With many artists such as Saint Levant, Bayou, Ali Gatie, etc…however, Elyanna has been able to distinguish herself from others by insisting on just performing in Arabic. While other artists blend English and French with their Arabic, she is resolute on keeping it just in Arabic, including at the Coachella. That is not the only thing that sets her apart from others; her extreme vocals, physicality, the edge way she dresses (which is styled by her sister), drums, and the spectacle of her performance also set her apart. 

On Saturday, February 10, writer Malak Hassouna got to experience one of Elyanna’s performances firsthand in Irving Plaza, New York City. One of her ten stops on her North America tour. 

An hour before the show started, the line wrapped around Irving Plaza with hundreds of people waiting in their Kuffeyiahs to enter.

To say that this is just a performance would be an understatement. To put it in Elyanna’s own words, “It’s not only a tour, it’s a movement, it’s a culture, it’s empowerment, it’s who we are” from the drums to her song dedicated to the ongoing genocide that is currently happening in her home country. Elyanna put on a fabulous show displaying her numerous talents that celebrate her culture, family, and people. As a frequent concertgoer, Malak can attest that this was one of the most emotional performances she has ever given, but she is also amazed by how one person can have so many talents. 

So let’s dive into it; first, her energy hit all the checklists for a perfect concert. She came in super high energy and super bubbly. Her personality and how incredibly grateful she was to have this opportunity to demonstrate her culture and sing in Arabic was not Something She envisioned doing. Still, since Coachella, we have seen that most of her performance is in Something that she has been super deliberate with.

The show starts with this fantastic drummer, who is not a drum set but a drummer with one drum that sets the mood for her performance. The first things you see on stage are the drummer, a man playing the oud, and a halo, which she appears under a few moments later. Starting with just their instruments, she begins by dancing and leaves the crowd starstruck for a few moments before she hits the group with her vocals, which are so powerful that they silence them briefly.  The performance was so unique because it did not lack range. There were songs where she was very soft and angelic, and then it transitioned into sharp, loud. This was all to demonstrate her musicality.

Additionally, Something that set her apart from other artists was the fact that she does not just drop on her discography but draws upon classics that she has taken in and adapted to her styling music, further demonstrating the range of her vocals from Ahwak by Abdel Halem Hafiz to Nasini El Donya by Rageb Alama. Taking on legendary songs in the Middle East has been a foundation of our culture, making them more accessible to a younger generation, especially immigrants who are now listening to Arabic music because of artists like Elyanna. Her boldness has paid off, from selling out shows to moving to bigger venues to Coachella and Govball. Elyanna has been unstoppable, and it has been inspiring to see an Arab at such a high platform, but also incredible to see the talent. 

If you think about it, she does not use much to curate her performance, but she creates a fantastic product with what she has. It is a super simple set that grabs your attention and a change in lights to set the mood for the next song, from starting with a Halo in which she dances in and with her fellow dancers to a red light to then just the use of flashlights. A simple sound of good music and good instruments such as the drum, the oud, the piano later on when her brother (Fares) comes on, and traditional Arab instruments. Her style is unmatched and so unique that it perfectly sits on the silhouette designed and curated by her sister Talia.

Honestly, the show is a family Affair, and even during the performance, Elyanna pays tribute to her family, who she states moved with her to Los Angeles to help her achieve her dreams and how much they believed in her. She talks about how she, her mom, and her brother write music together, and occasionally, her brother comes on stage to accompany her, from her sister, who spends hours designing and putting together her outfits for every performance and every outing.

The entire show was a spectacle and incomparable to any other concert. One moment that deserves recognition is her performance of Olive Branch, which she dropped on December 5, 2023. Recognizing the pain that Palestinians are suffering right now left the audience with goosebumps and tears. After she was done performing the song, the audience immediately started chanting, “Free Free Palestine.” Another is when she asks, “Who here is Arab?” an uproar in the crowd begins. Another is when she includes the Zaghrouta in her performances, leading the crowd to follow. To wrap it up, the electric performance of Mama Eh had the floor shaking from how energetic it was. 

Elyanna is not just a singer. She is a performer by all measures, from her vocals and dance moves to incorporating different aspects of her culture, her bubbly personality that shines through to the audience, and her connection with them. You can tell how hard she and her family have worked to show their culture and to put on an unmatched performance. It is a show and a celebration of Arab culture you do not want to miss. Make sure to check out her interview with Rolling Stone, in which she goes into more depth about her sound. We cannot wait to see what the future holds for her. 

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