Heichal Hatarbut in Habimah Square, home of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, is arguably the most prestigious venue for classical music concerts in Tel Aviv, if not the entire country.
Earlier this summer, it was also the venue for a most unusual concert: for the first time, a heavy metal band appeared onstage in Lowy Hall, the largest of the cultural center’s concert halls.
Moreover, the unusual lead attraction, heavy metal band Orphaned Land -- which has been a fixture on the Israeli rock scene for the past 30 years -- took the stage with unprecedented accompanists: classical musicians comprising the new Israel Chamber Opera Orchestra, as well as an enthusiastic back-up choir, Hellscore.
Another first for the evening, according to Orphaned Land soloist and co-founder Kobi Farhi, was the fact the concert was being livestreamed in English throughout the world, including Arab countries in Middle East. And the band of six -- two vocalists, three guitarists and one keyboardist -- put on quite a performance, complete with a light show that displayed flashes of brilliance (albeit one that was annoyingly marred in parts by occasional blinding intensity).
Joining live in all the fun was a full house of multi-generational fans, quite a few clad in black Orphaned Land T-shirts; additionally, the sell-out crowd frequently broke out into chants of the band’s name. Not surprisingly when it comes to loyal fans, many in the seats knew most of the lyrics, singing along with the band and standing up for favorite tracks.
Amusingly and infectiously, the mostly female background chorus often behaved as enthusiastically as the audience, dancing rhythmically as they sang lyrics for which they had no need of music stands in order to read the words. Behind the choir, two video screens whose feeds alternated between the band and the orchestra added an extra dimension by scrolling lyrics and names of songs across the monitors.
Still, most eyes were drawn to the impressive lead singer, whose vocal range spanned the octaves, from growling bass to mellow baritone to operatic tenor. At the same time, Farhi strutted and performed antics with the microphone stand -- as if he were a cross between Mick Jagger and Freddie Mercury.
Instrumentally, two younger guitarists showed off their virtuosity by ripping off dazzling riffs. More than once, the entire band led the audience in rhythmic clapping, which responded with the kind of head-bobbing and fist-bumping gesticulations that are characteristic of the ecstasy of Hasidic prayer.
The Orphaned Land concert was produced by NGOEast, the same company that is bringing two much-anticipated concerts to Israel next month:
Greek singer Nikos Vertis (and 25 members of his band) will host Idan Haviv, in Tel Aviv’s Menorah Mivtahim Arena, on Thursday, September 2. Later in the month, Gipsy Kings by Andre Reyes will host Shlomi Shabat for three concerts, beginning with Heichal Hatarbut on September 22, followed by performances in the Amphi Omer (25.8) and Haifa (26.8),
*The YouTube video in this article is courtesy of Yuval Erel
First published: 13:36, 08.28.21