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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Matisyahu - concert review - Melbourne


Jumping Jew flash; Matisyahu's a gas

matisyahu - Reviewed by Dalia goldschlager

WHERE would you find a world-famous reggae star just half an hour before their sold-out overseas show?

In shul of course, davvening Maariv and listing to a shiur about the nine days between rosh chodesh Av and Tisha b'Av; a mourning period during which the singer is ironically scheduled to play shows.

Matisyahu, the Chassidic pop sensation, was reportedly spotted at the Yeshivah Centre, before taking the stage before a throng of screaming Melbourne fans at St Kilda’s Prince of Wales on Tuesday night (July 25).

The Orthodox singer is an odd site: 1.9-metres tall, clad in traditional Orthodox garb -- a white shirt tucked neatly under a black suit -- with a black hat tipped, like Michael Jackson, to the side.

He jumps and bounces like an African Masai Warrior with flying tzitzit, and dances across the stage backwards with his arms raised in the air. Meanwhile, the crowd of largely 18 year olds to 50-somethings are barely able to contain themselves.

With their fists in the air, Jews and non-Jews alike join in one voice shouting, "building beit hamikdash", and "we want Moshiach now!".

But it wasn't only religious-tinged topics that the quietly-spoken New Yorker sang about. Matisyahu's music also explores universal themes including pollution and deforestation. He also treated his audience to a five-minute-long beat-box set.

Matisyahu performs with a contagious energy, but when it comes to addressing the crowd, he is soft spoken and reserved. His words, however, still resonate.
"Lets channel our positive thoughts to the Middle East," he said. "Our brothers and sisters are sleeping in bomb shelters tonight."

After just one encore, Matisyahu returned to close the show with a timely version of Psalm 137: "Jerusalem if I forget you, let my right hand forget what it's supposed to do."

Even after Matisyahu left the stage and the house lights were back on, hundreds remained fixed in their spots, wondering whether they will have the opportunity to see a jumping Chassidic reggae star bust rhymes about Judaism again.

We can only hope (and pray).


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