“Is that him? Yea, look he shaved!”
He may have looked completely different without his usual Hasidic get-up — black suit, yarmulke, and beard — but as soon as he opened his mouth to sing, fans realized, indeed it was the Jewish reggae singer Matisyahu.
Arriving with only five days of advance notice, Matisyahu graced the stage of Velvet Jones to a sold-out crowd for and “acoustic” show on Wednesday night. Although his presence in the press seems to dwindled of late, this was not evident in the live setting. The crowd boasted a mix of tweenie boppers and hippies, who cried out, bobbed heads, and swayed from side to side throughout the night. The reggae singer and beat-boxer was accompanied by two of his band members, who provided the acoustic beats and synths to back the vocals. He started off his show with a handful of new songs, slated for his soon-to-be-released album. Themes of spirituality were still present, with the addition of an electronic pulse. The newer Matisyahu material also had a feeling of melancholy about them; they were almost hypnotic, the singer himself seeming to get lost in the repetitive rhythms.
Vocally, he ranged in highs and lows, incorporating his beat boxes for minutes on end only, which reinforced the fervor in longtime fans who had come out to support. Some concertgoers seemed to get lost in the thumps and echoes, while others seemed uninterested or preoccupied, to a point where it became noticeable. Still, fan favorites like “Jerusalem” and “King without a Crown” perked the crowd right up.
Whether it was the intimate setting or the lack of facial hair, Wednesday night felt noticeably spiritual. Perhaps more importantly, though, it made evident the fact that we haven’t heard the last of Matisyahu.