'We want to bring rock to an Arab crowd': Jordanian band Jadal to bring grungy vibes to Abu Dhabi

The Jordanian band performs this week as part of the Hosn Festival

Mahmoud Radaideh is the frontman and songwriter for Jordanian rock band Jadal. Courtesy: Cultural Foundation
Powered by automated translation

Jordan's landscape has inspired international filmmakers and local musicians in various ways. When it comes to the former, the kingdom's picturesque mountains and deserts served as ideal settings for many films, from 1962's Lawrence of Arabia to this year's Aladdin.

When it comes to its vibrant independent music scene, however, what the country lacks has served as an equally strong source of inspiration.

This has allowed Mahmoud Radaideh, frontman and songwriter of Jadal, to pick up the guitar as a teenager in the first place.

"We in Jordan don't have much to do. We don't have the sea, lakes or whatever, so as a kid, you go from school to home or to the villages if you have friends there. So if you are a musician and smart enough, you can spend most of your time doing music," he says. "My brother always told me to focus on playing the guitar, which I did as something to do."

Radaideh wasn't the only one. Formed in 2003, Jadal was one of the first fully fledged rock groups to come out of Jordan, and was followed by the likes of Autostrad and El Morabba3. What distinguished this new movement, Radaideh says, was its appreciation of the region's heritage.

"At the time everyone was trying to make English bands and they would also have English names," he says. "I formed the group with the idea that it should be an Arabic rock band, with the music relating to the culture and community we live in. This means the lyrics needed to be Arabic and in a Jordanian accent."

That sense of mission and camaraderie continues to sustain the country's rock community. Radaideh says the sense of familiarity between band members in the kingdom is tighter than contemporaries in Egypt and Lebanon, in that many of the musicians are school friends.

These friends would play music together and start their own bands, he says.

While each band challenged each other to get better, Radaideh says the Jordanian public were also adjusting to the new sounds coming out of the country. It was one that fused Arabic culture and melodies with western rock genres ranging from grunge and metal.

When it comes to Jadal, that style is prevalent in their last album, 2017's Malyoun. The album is a grungy love letter to Radaideh's youth with tracks displaying his love for Vitalogy-era Pearl Jam.

“That was intended because I really wanted to bring that style to an Arab crowd,” he says. “I basically wanted to show the fans what I have been listening to at their age and doing it in Arabic in the most professional way.”

But that could soon change. Radaideh confirms a new Jadal album is in the works and it will be marked by more experimentation. "It is a different kind of songwriting, which is really refreshing for us," the musician says. "The crowd would not be expecting what we are doing. But then again, I don't really follow trends, we just do things in our fun way."

Some of these songs will be presented live in Abu Dhabi on Thursday, December 12 at the Cultural Foundation. For one thing, unlike the band's previous show in the capital, as part of the Mother of The Nation Festival, this gig's audience will be made up of devoted fans.

“That was more of a family festival, and this time it is an exclusive Jadal concert,” he says. “With this show, we expect Jadal fans and we will play some of the new songs. We can’t wait to get down there and play.”

Jadal will perform as part of Al Hosn Festival at the Cultural Foundation, Abu Dhabi, tonight between 7.30pm and 10pm; ticket prices are from Dh78.50. More information is available on www.culturalfoundation.ae