Selfie hunters storming the stage, deceased bass players, Japanese psychedelics and a redeeming Jessie Ware: music expert Jacob Haagsma is busy with it

Music editor Jacob Haagsma experiences something in pop and wider surroundings, up to and including the Middle East and North Africa. What kept him off the streets again this week?

So, Jacob, how was your weekend?

I was there on Saturday night Colors Of MENA, part of the MENA festival that will decorate Groningen this week. MENA stands for Middle East North Africa, so broadly the Arab part of the world. And that’s where exciting music comes from, it turns out.

Didn’t you know that?

Of course they did, and anyone who didn’t already notice that must have been sighted blind and hearing deaf. Main acts Bombino, from Niger, and Omar Souleyman hero from ravaged Syria, have been seen several times on Northern stages , and also at Lowlands. I remember like yesterday, and it was already in 2011, how Omar Souleyman appeared there at Lowlands, the crowd in the room exploded and the photographers in front of the fences turned as one man to capture those swirling scenes.

In De Oosterpoort things were already going wrong. Every once in a while people jumped on stage to take a selfie with Omar Souleyman. He calmly accepted that, and then continued to sing calmly – exciting voice turns in Arabic scales, on solid electronic beats and virtuoso keyboard tunes.

Those selfie hunters, they were probably not older, gray, white people, usually the most numerous and dominant consumers of culture.

No exactly. That was also the beauty of this evening: a very mixed audience. So also those older, gray, white people, who are quite curious, but also young people, from different cultures, girls and women with headscarves, children even. Even around midnight, when Souleyman only took office. That all gave a very pleasant, relaxed atmosphere. At the opening concert of the festival, by the North Netherlands Orchestra, of all places, things were already so informal, I read in this piece by colleague Job van Schaik . So we can learn something like that from other cultures and I think that’s a benefit. That stiff stuff in that plush, maybe it’s had its best time.

Well well. How are things on the Frisian festival grounds in the meantime?

Ureterp has Oerrock, for three days from Ascension Day , always the most important day with toppers such as Goldband, Son Mieux and one of the two UB40 branches – that of singer Ali Campbell, who has been rolling down the street fighting with his brothers in the other edition for years. But unfortunately, I couldn’t be there. Colleague Jaap Hellinga took a look behind the scenes.

So it’s not always a party in your profession.

If only that were true. Fortunately, nice pictures still appear. I handed in my album reviews for OOR this week, with heavy stuff like Swans and Bell Witch and also the extremely spicy Ugandan rap star MC Yallah. But it still makes me happy That! Feel Good! the new, fifth album of Jessie Ware from England. Her previous album What’s Your Pleasure went very elegantly to the disco side, and then I quickly jump enthusiastically. Redemption through the dance floor. On this new one, the palette has broadened a bit towards other black styles, and lightning, that feels good on the earcups.

Any deaths to regret this week?

Two bass players, quite coincidentally, so not directly the people who come to the fore. John Giblin played with the greats: Peter Gabriel, Simple Minds, Scott Walker, Kate Bush, Fish, Brand X – that was the jazz rock hobby club of Phil Collins, from Genesis. And Andy Rourke has also done all kinds of things, but will live on in our memory mainly as bass player of The Smiths, sometime in the eighties. Anyway, Wednesday evening we can go to Bo Ningen, delicious Japanese psychedelics and noise in Vera, in Gro Ningen.

With that lame play on words we will end this section again.

Whatever you want.