Matisyahu Unplugged at the Adrienne Arsht Center, February 12

Read Crossfade's interview with Matisyahu.


With Adam Weinberg

Knight Concert Hall

at the Adrienne Arsht Center
February 12, 2011

On Saturday night, the Adrienne Arsht Center was transformed from world-class concert hall to new-age synagogue as Matisyahu and his guitarist Adam Weinberg went unplugged for a packed house.

A sold-out concert presented by Jewish non-profit group Birthright Israel NEXT South Florida, it was an intimate couple of hours with this Hasidic Jewish musician, blurring the lines between a coffeehouse open mic night and a Q&A talk show setting.

The show started 20 minutes late as Matis was still observing Shabbat, which also made him miss sound check several hours earlier. So when he and Weinberg took over the stripped-down stage, it was as impromptu as a college talent show. Mic check and guitar-tuning aside, the crowd was hyped to get the gig started. 

To start, the pair played an acoustic rendition of "Dispatch the Troops." However, Matisyahu forgot the words. Thankfully, a member of the crowd pulled up the lyric sheet on his trusty iPhone as Matis thanks him and technology. And that's how the mood was set for the night -- simple, funny, serious, open, spiritually uplifting with heavy doses of audience participation. It was obvious: Matis wasn't scared of taking questions from the crowd and playing without a setlist. The show flowed like it was just you and him. He simply showed off his sense of humor, deep religious beliefs, and massive musical skills. 

Hearing Matis sing acappella was nothing less than a spiritual experience. His voice soared, on point and pure, never once faltering. And then during the song "One Day," Matis showcased his unbelievable beatboxing skills. Really, the performance made you wonder whether you were listening to a drum machine or human vocal chords. 

Anyone who was present at last night's show witnessed something magical. Many walked away with a sense of peace and pride. Matis is one hell of a musician and he is also one hell of a spokesperson for the next Jewish generation. During the night, he encouraged everyone, Jews and non Jews alike, to visit Israel. And when singing his song "Jerusalem," it was apparent that his experience visiting the homeland left a lasting impression, not only on his faith but also on his music.

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