Two years after his last concerts in Israel and in honor of his fourth album "Light," which made it to number 19 on the American Billboards, Matthew Paul Miller, better known as Matisyahu, performed at the Sultan's Pool in Jerusalem.
Like most of his concerts in Israel, most of the audience was young American guys and girls, most of them intoxicated, who filled the front rows of Sultan's Pool in order to see their Jewish rastaman. Unlike his previous concerts in Jerusalem, it could be seen that the musician has garnered quite a significant Israeli following, some of whom traveled from distant area codes to attend the concert.
The concert was opened by Erez Lev Ari with a short warm up that included his biggest hits. Though the connection between the two artists is mainly through the round pieces of cloth adorning on their heads, the concert provided a good opportunity for Lev Ari to get to know this fan base.
Immediately after Lev Ari finished his set, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat took the stage to greet the audience and open the celebrations.
Dressed in a blue hooded sweatshirt (which got switched out later for a white shirt with a huge Hebrew letter 'aleph' on it), a white hat and matching sunglasses, Matisyahu looked iconically stylish on stage. "You told me he's religious. This is a religious guy?" a guy behind me asked his girlfriend, who apparently dragged him to the concert to get to know the bearded star. So, that’s just the thing, my friend. Start getting used to it, because, yes. This too is what a religious person looks like.
Matisyahu has succeeded in breaking through the musical mold of what a religious singer looks and sounds like, through his innovative, fashionable dress no less than his mesmerizing sound. He has surely affected the face of the future culture of religious youth.
Doing it his way
With the fashion police report out of the way, now it's on to the music. Matisyahu performed many beat box sessions alongside his songs.
It would be hard to claim that all the songs inspired the same level of energy and enthusiasm. His most recent album, on which the concert was based, doesn't carry you away as much as its predecessors.
With this type of album, the success of a concert is highly contingent on the Matisyahu's connection with the audiences. During parts of the concert, it seemed as though Matisyahu and the band were moving more in the direction of an experimental jam session, which, I presume, is nice for the studio, but a little less for this specific show.
Though Matisyahu didn't chat with the audience much beyond his "Hello, Jerusalem," he has his own way of creating dialogue. Dancing, a lot of jumping, and half-shy, charming smiles satisfied the people in the audience. These provided Matisyahu with the winning formula for captivating his audience even during the more mellow parts of his show.
Matsiyahu also hosted the wonderful saxophonist Daniel Zamir and Yehuda Solomon, the soloist of the Moshav Band during his song "Jerusalem," which was, by far, the highlight of the evening.