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Matisyahu

Artists
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Blending traditional Jewish themes with Reggae, rock and hip hop sounds


 

Matisyahu

 

Matisyahu World - New Album "LIGHT" Now Available

Matisyahu @ Columbia Club 11.10.09 (Supporting: Dub Trio)

 

It would be rash to classify Matisyahu as a “reggae artist” or as a “rapper”. Perhaps the roots of his music and the history of his band are distinctly grounded in the Jamaican dancehall; however his compositions encapsulate a wide variety of sounds and influences that span genres ranging from dub to rap and rock to reggae all within one song. Berlin’s Columbia Club was host to the third stop on Matisyahu’s fall tour, in promotion of his latest album, Light (2009).

The set began with Matisyahu entering the stage chanting ethereally. His form dominated the stage, he not only appeared to be much taller than the guitarists standing next to him, but his distinctive choice of clothing (black trousers, jacket and hat, sidelocks and untrimmed beard, and tzitzit hanging from underneath his shirt) made him the center of attention. Matisyahu had a distinct transitory style which distinguished each of the songs. At one moment he would be rapping, the next he would be ‘rock’ singing, and the next would find him chanting and droning.

What made it really a pleasure to watch his performance was the true joy that he exuded. When he was not howling, chanting, singing or rapping, he was dancing around on stage, spinning and throwing his body to the beat of the music (at some points almost losing his hat). He would even just watch the musicians play with a satisfied smile on his face. The band deserved this smile, too.

               

Although at some moments the beats felt a little thin and contrived, these were made up for by the long and intense jams featured throughout the entire concert and within most of the songs. Matisyahu would take side stage or dance around as his band improvised smoothly between hard rock, bass-heavy dub, and light pop-y melodies.

When Matisyahu was part of the songs it was unfortunately difficult to discern exactly what he was saying in his raps. The trouble to understand was even acknowledged during the guest appearance by freestyler Koshadillz in “Nature,” when he asked his friend to slow down his raps in order to give the audience a chance to really hear what he was saying. Because of this his performance really was focused on his appearance and the musical journey he was leading.

After an hour-long set the band left the stage. A few minutes later Matisyahu was encouraged to return to stage alone. From this point on the performance became even tighter. Alone on stage he began to beatbox, moving from relatively simple sounds to complex and impressive beats. Eventually the rest of his band joined him again to play another fifty minutes of music, making it in total almost a two hour show. In this second set the show really came together, the band was even more freewheeling; Matishayu was even more precise with his beatboxing and raps; the audience became even more excited. It’s always best to end the set on a high note, and Matisyahu and his band remained stimulating the entire encore, leaving me as well as the majority of the audience excited and satisfied upon exiting Columbia Club into the rainy Berlin night.

Written by Brit-Maren Schjeide


 

Setlist:

 

youth
nature
indestructible
we will walk
chop
exaltation
one day
smash lies*
time*
king without a crown*
jerusalem*


*listed as encore

 

 


 


 

       Photos: Caterina Werner


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