2/22/14 – Somerville Theatre

In a performance of truly immense magnitude, Israeli folk-singer Asaf Avidan stole the hearts of those who came to see his show at the Somerville Theatre. Beyond his impressive ability to play a variety of instruments, including the guitar, drums, and harmonica, he possesses something else, something special. His show was more than chord progressions and melodies, more than strumming and passionate singing. It was like an interactive lecture incorporated into a musical performance, touching on the themes and conflicts we experience in life. Asaf spoke on love, death, and time, challenging the audience to reflect on their own choices and relationships. It was the perfect mixture of music with dialogue, with Asaf often referencing himself in past anecdotes and ballads.

“I fell in love for the first time when I was 19 years old. It wasn’t a biological love, or a logical love. It was a geological love. It was shifting tectonic plates and moving mountains. That’s what it’s like to fall in love at 19,” Asaf told the crowd.

Asaf’s beautiful prose and dialogue fit perfectly with the songs he performed, his angelic voice resonating throughout the entire venue. Whether he was softly speaking over the background strumming of a melody or belting out a soulful verse of love lost, he captivated the audience with his mesmerizing presence. Surrounded by a myriad of mics and musical gear, Asaf proved that the ability to make emotionally moving music relies on passion, not the presence of multiple people playing instruments together. He was his own band, effortless looping in percussion, drums, and chords to sing over.

His interaction with the audience deserves praise as well. “Are you guys having a good time?” he would ask. Several female audience members would chirp and scream in unison, with hoots, claps, and whistles from the older folks. Every single member of the crowd seemed to be enjoying his company; your mind would process his words, and your ears his beautiful music.  You’d start to notice your heart fluttering at the mention of loved ones and your foot tapping to his rhythms. Your eyes would take in this skinny man dressed in leather pants and a tank top, playing three instruments at once, and you knew you were in the presence of great musician and orator.

At the start of every song, as soon as the audience picked up on a familiar hook or intro, they would erupt into applause, whistling with approval and joy. Tracks such as “Your Anchor,”“Different Pulses,” and “Hangwoman” all garnered such reactions. However, the greatest example of this was when he played his most recognizable track, “The Reckoning Song”, which commanded a standing ovation and a singalong from several members of the audience. One gentleman from the mezzanine, perhaps so inspired by the performance, asked Asaf to be his first, to which the singer burst into laughter, thanked the young man, and said he would meet him backstage in 15 minutes, which was greeted by another round of applause.

After the show, Asaf went into the lobby of the theatre and stood behind a table, autographing CDs for a giant line of eager fans. I could see him joking around, posing for silly pictures, and engaging in conversation with anyone who asked. I decided to get in line and try out my luck in meeting him. An hour and a half later, I stood there, the last person in line — alone with him, his girlfriend, and tour manager — where he ended up signing two CDs and shaking my hand. Despite the brisk Boston air nipping at my ears and the fact that I tripped over every other cobblestone upon departing the venue, all I remember is thinking to myself how I was not going to wash my hand for a very, very long time.

Discourse on Life: Asaf Avidan
  • Diverse use of instruments
  • Fantastic audience interaction
  • Beautiful and unique voice
9.5Overall Score

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