Fresh from rocking the States, Hassidic reggae performer Matisyahu has dropped into Europe with a series of gigs. London got a taste of what Americans have been enjoying for the last couple of years. Great reggae with a Jewish flavour.
Matisyahu is no novelty Jew looking to make a fast buck. He seems to be really in it for the long term. With one studio album, Shake Off The Dust, and a live album, Live At Stubbs, under his belt, the twentysomething from Pennsylvania has come a long way from his secular upbringing.
Since becoming Bal Teshuvah, and adopting an Orthodox lifestyle, Matisyahu – real name Matthew Miller – epitomises what makes a Jewish role model. His music is well crafted. He performs with a backing group of three, and delivers a mighty crossover sound.
His London debut saw him in front of a packed audience at the Scala in King's Cross. Around 1000 people rocked to his beats, from the frum to the non-Jews. His hour-long set comprised many of the songs from his album, including King Without A Crown, Lord Raise Me Up and Chop 'Em Down, as well as a few teasers from his next album, set for release in January. He even managed to find time to do a rendition of the Shema.
Highlight of the evening, and one which the crowd had been chanting for, was his human beat box track called, simply, Beat Box. For several minutes he gave the audience what they had been asking for a – funky series of beats and sounds using only his vocals.
Some have hailed him 'the Hassidic reggae superstar', and while he might not be a superstar just yet, he certainly is one in the making. Not only does he deliver some serious beats, but his Jewish message is delivered clearly and concisely. The British audience loved his act, and he certainly seemed to enjoy his first visit to the capital. "Cheers," he said, while drinking a bottle of water on stage.
Cheers, Matisyahu. We look forward to seeing you again soon.