Friday, October 24, 2008

Matisyahu in Concert

I love it when I get to report to the field. Last night my wife and I ditched the wigglers with their favorite babysitter and hit the town. Specifically, we hit Detroit, which pretty much looked like it was hit hard long before we got there. Detroit has a lot to offer, but a lot of neglect and ruin as well. We don't get to Detroit all that often, so we were a bit nervous of the drive in. Every time we go there is some massive construction project that gets us totally turned around. So, of course, there was a massive construction project and we got totally turned around. But we made it safe and sound.

And we're so glad we did. What a great show. We missed the first opening act and part of the second, but we didn't mind much. We'd checked them out on the internet a couple of days ago and weren't that impressed. The Fillmore is a great hall. It's a magnificent old theater that was reconstructed into a magnificent concert hall. I have no idea where my seats were supposed to be because we never went near them. The whole orchestra pit had been redone as a dance floor and dance we did, smooshed up against all the other concert goers and bouncing happily.

The other concert goers were a mixed lot. As expected, there were lots of college age kids (I'm old enough now to call them kids. sigh), as well a number of folks my age and a decent contingent older. I saw a couple of ladies in their early 50's on their way out, both beaming happily. I also saw a dad there with two boys in their early teens. I wanted to high five him, but restrained myself. I saw a small scattering of guys with kippahs, but just a small scattering.

Matisyahu was fabulous. There's a phrase in the lead off track of his new EP that captures it perfectly for me. Dream awake. Matis was and we were. He sang to the crowd but not from the position of your typical showman. He was lost somewhere inside himself and his lyrics and was inviting us into the dream. And we all went willingly and happily. I don't think I ever expected to see a packed hall of (probably) mostly non-Jews singing about Moses and Jerusalem. And to look at their faces, most of them understood what they were singing and meant it.

The set list was a mix of each of his albums, including the new EP. The band was in great form; understated, tight, and potent. The drummer was riveting, not a motion wasted and showing a deep understanding for the rhythmic power of empty spaces as well as beats. The keyboard player alternated between chirpy reggae organs, grindy hip-hop electronica, spacey ambient drones and stately piano tones. The guitar and bass did there thing, providing a strong, elastic, background for Matisyahu's rapid changes of tempo and tone, and leaping to the front when he dropped back to wail and moan.

I'm still dizzy from it.

Here are a couple of pictures that my intrepid wife caught on her cell phone camera. Wish you all were there.

Matisyahu live at the Detroit Fillmore

Matisyahu live at the Detroit Fillmore
You don't have to take my word for it, though. Here's an approved bootleg of his show last week (Oct 18, 2008) at The Rave in Milwaukee, WI. For more concert recordings, check out his collection on the Internet Archive, or, better yet, catch him on his current tour.


Jocelyn said...

Great article!
Wish I was there!!!

Anonymous said...

Dear Lonesome Jew in Michigan from ex-Wisconsin Yankee Gentile in Georgia. haha
I read your blog - found my way there from Gad Elbaz surfing, and wanted to assure you that there are lots of us that know (are learning) about Avraham, Yitzhak, and Yaakov. There is a mighty force beginning to stir and it's not just a small fringe group that loves Hashem, His land and His people.
If you get to Israel before I do, save me a place!
Smiles and Blessings. Jean