Review by Seth Rogovoy
(HUDSON, N.Y.) – Club Helsinki Hudson has fast become a home-away-from home for Matisyahu, who has now played the venue a number of times and who clearly loves performing there. And why not? When he comes to town, the place is always packed with a diverse range of devotees, many who sing along (whether invited to or otherwise) or shout out requests (some of which are always honored). And Matisyahu never fails to deliver.
This past Wednesday night, fans got a real treat. They paid for and were expecting an acoustic solo show along the lines of what Matisyahu delivered almost a year ago to the day that he was last at Helsinki. That show, it should be said, was remarkable for the manner in which it held the audience in the singer’s way through his sheer dynamism and charisma.
This time out, however, Matisyahu treated the club and the crowd to a full band concert, albeit a modified acoustic, “MTV Unplugged”-style show. Backed by a guitarist, bassist and drummer, Matisyahu and company were free to jam, and the ably talented beatboxer – he’s almost a musician or one-man-band himself with those skills – took advantage of the opportunity, opening up many of his songs wide to explore their musical potential as spiritual grooves.
Many members of the audience seemingly went along with him for the journey, so that by the end they were bobbing their heads, singing along, or just plain showing their own kind of devotion, which is what in large part music – certainly Matisyahu’s style of soul music, which incorporates reggae, hip-hop, rock, folk, and R&B and blends it with a dusting of Jewish themes and modes – is meant to be about. It warmed the crowd on a cold night, and brought people together in what succeeded where it set out to be a “festival of light.”