March 30, 2014
KICKING OUT THE JAMS:
Gingerly, Iran begins to rock out (Scott Peterson, March 30, 2014, CS Monitor)
Posted by Orrin Judd at March 30, 2014 8:13 AM[I]ranian musicians say the growing openness of the past two years has now blossomed under centrist President Hassan Rouhani, enabling live performances today that would have been impossible not long ago.Exhibit A is a groundbreaking show that just finished a 20-gig run in Tehran's renowned Vahdat Hall. Redefining what is acceptable on stage, women sang solos; Western songs filled the playlist, from John Lennon to Frank Sinatra; and most lyrics were in English.Audiences who crammed into the plush multi-story theater gasped at the spectacle, some singing quietly along as the lead female vocalist - wearing a maroon head scarf that fell to her waist - belted out Amy Winehouse's "Back to Black."Called "The Last Days of March," the hybrid theater-band act set out to test the limits of a cultural battle with conservatives who fear "Westoxicating" influences on the Islamic Republic."From the third night, ticket sales shot up. People were very surprised...we could have doubled the run," says Behrooz Saffarian, the musical director.