Hip HopMusic

An Intimate Evening With Matisyahu

Everyone sat hinged at the edge of their seats with jaws wide open, in awe of Matisyahu’s performance on Saturday night, November 14th at the Luckman Fine Arts Theater.

Matisyahu fans of all ages from eight to eighty years old, anxious; he stepped on stage thirty minutes past show time. However, no one seemed to care because in the meantime, Matisyahu hired the incredibly talented artist, Christopher Morphis who preoccupied everyone’s attention. Fans had their eyes glued while Morphis rendered a painting on canvas of a man surfing ocean waves while he grooved to hip-hop background instrumentals. As soon as the painting was finished, Matisyahu and his band proudly walked to their places and began the concert. Simply dressed in a plaid flannel and skinny blue jeans, this did not feel like a concert; Matisyahu truly gave enthusiasts what they wanted: an intimate evening.

In the opening song, he sat center stage on his stool and made an instant, magical connection with everyone in the audience. Matisyahu, Jewish American singer-songwriter is mostly known for his fusion of hazzan, roots reggae, and hip hop that incorporate lyrics of the Hassidic Jewish lifestyle. However, his latest album Akeda with themes of sacrifice and self-perception has expanded from reggae and slightly shifted into a jazzier, soulful, dancehall style. Part of the reason for this shift, is because of his religious transitional beliefs, from practicing years of Orthodox Jewish law, to releasing rigidity into Reformed Jewish law. Matisyahu braved a spiritual journey, and invites audiences to experience this personal piece of that ride through his music. In “Sick For So Long,” he describes this change in his life, and starting over clean, and finishes the song by reciting a prayer in Hebrew—a beautiful moment. He’s got this hypnotizing, yet gripping effect on listeners—he replaces any stress or worry with peace and hope.  Everyone is captivated as he sings “Blackheart,” a song that resembles his take on reggae. He reveals himself as raw, clean from the inside-out and challenges other contemporary artists of the genre through his journey, performing songs from each album.

He made sure people felt at home not just through his music, but also by bringing up his four year old son to the stage just a few minutes later. With a microphone in one hand, he held his son’s hand in the other, creating wholesome, precious moments that communicated the importance and power of family and love.

Pauses in between songs were only used for his bandmates to switch instruments, and rarely did Matisyahu speak. The speaking only happened during songs in order to save his breath and voice for the thirty second rap pieces, the multi vernacular beatboxing bits, and the belt singing which literally left fans breathless. He manages to make robotic, exotic sounds with his voice as if he had some kind of voice modulator placed in his throat.

The affixed stargazing eyes of fans remain on Matisyahu until the end; he seamlessly finishes the evening with the song that originally brought him attention, “One Day”. A song that voices the anticipations of optimistic souls worldwide, dreaming for togetherness and peace. Matisyahu has never been so relevant, with a momentum that will never end.

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