As is typically the case when big acts come to Lebanon, Lana Del Rey’s performance experienced sound problems and her voice was barely audible at times.

Despite the the $60 price tag for the cheapest standing tickets, she performed–if we can call it that– for about an hour with no encore and very little set-up.

Many felt she was spaced out most of the time–in fact I didn’t hear the word Lebanon or Byblos uttered once–so I’m not entirely sure she knew where she was.

Here’s what I did hear:

At one point she made reference to the “electricity” and “mysticism” or “mystique” “in the air.”

She spoke one more time toward the end of the show saying:

“It feels so fucking sexy and amazing here.”

Of course Ray is probably on a plane right now to her next show, so perhaps we can’t expect these performers to know much about the countries they visit. I found the same to be true of Flo Rida, when I briefly interviewed him for MTV a couple of years back–though he did at least make note of the location during his gig.

All this is good business for Lebanese promoters who can charge exorbitant entrance fees while investing relatively little in the technical set-up or band travel arrangements, as the stars often show up alone or with only a handful of musicians. The result often sounds more like celebrity Karaoke than a live performance of studio tracks.

There are definitely exceptions to this, such great recent Beirut shows put on by Sting and Snoop Dogg who brought entire bands with them. But more often than not, going to a concert in Lebanon often feels like getting a very downsized experience for a very upscale price.


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Habib Battah
Habib Battah is an investigative journalist and founder of the news site Battah has covered Lebanon and the Middle East for over 15 years and teaches journalism and media studies at the American University of Beirut. He is a contributor to Monocle, The Guardian, BBC World, Al Jazeera and others, a former fellow at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University and two-time recipient of the Samir Kassir Press Freedom Award. Battah's investigative work was recently recognized for outstanding local reporting by the Columbia University Oakes Award for Environmental Reporting. Battah earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Texas at Austin and an M.A. in Near East Studies and Journalism from New York University.


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