Front Row Focus | Concert Review: Matisyahu (March 4, 2018)

Concert Review: Matisyahu (March 4, 2018)

March 07, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

ARTIST:  Matisyahu

VENUE:  The Orange Peel, Asheville, NC

DATE:  March 4, 2018

Review by: Caleb Calhoun

Photos by:  David Simchock

Matisyahu - Asheville, NCMatisyahu - Asheville, NC© Copyright David Simchock It’s Sunday night and it’s been a long weekend. I’m feeling sick and thinking about other places I would rather be, namely in bed with my girlfriend and dog, and I am, to be honest, not in the best head-space to cover a show. I’ve never seen Matisyahu before though, and I am determined to keep my mind open and my heart free despite my First World problems.

His band takes the stage at 9pm sharp without him, introducing themselves to the crowd with the heavy, wubby, Warrior Dub before Matisyahu himself joins them about five minutes into the set. Despite the darkness of the intro they quickly switch gears to something much more lovey, much more vibey. They stick to more of their new music but this crowd, full of true Matisyahu fans, still know all the words.

A few songs in and half of the audience is dancing with their hands raised to the sky, basking in the energy and message of this band, but I am still struggling to wade all the way in. I was hoping for something darker, for some blend of Rasta and Jewish protest music, especially in this town, and the poppier, dancier songs they are playing just aren’t quite catching me.

I go outside to smoke a quick cigarette and when I walk back in it is like an entirely different show. No set break, but, based on song selections, essentially two sets. They take it dark, they take it dubby. They speed it up and slow it down. They are sounding more like Peter Tosh than Rebelution at this point and as they flow through Walls Melt Down I find myself completely taken over by the music.

Matisyahu - Asheville, NCMatisyahu - Asheville, NC© Copyright David Simchock They transition into a heavy Tell Me/King complete with an Ini Kamoze tease and the crowd is reveling. Swaying and dancing, hands up then down, bumping in to everyone all around and everyone all around not giving a single shit - this is the sweet spot, where 1000 people find themselves all on the same page, where 1000 strangers find themselves moving and breathing as a single organism. This is what many of us come to live music to find, and Matisyahu is clearly a master of that moment of unification.

After heavy and virtuosic versions of Carry Me, and Forest of Faith they take it just a little but more lightly with Unraveling and, to the clear delight of at least the fans around me, finish off with one of their classics, Love Born.

Matisyahu - Asheville, NCMatisyahu - Asheville, NC© Copyright David Simchock As we await the encore it is impossible to ignore that they haven’t played One Day yet, still, many of the die-hards in my corner of the audience are hoping for something a little more obscure. Well, at least that’s what they all say until the first notes ring out.

The crowd has thinned and there is finally room to move around as each of us remaining, each with one finger in the air and the other hand clutched to our heart, eyes closed and mouths singing, screaming along, “One day, one day, one day...”

“We will all be free, eternally, stop all the violence sing a song of praise.”

What else is there to say?

Marcus King Band - Asheville, NCCaleb Calhoun© Copyright David Simchock Caleb Calhoun studied writing at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and music in a myriad of bars and venues across the southeast. He is an author and journalist and lives on Asheville's South Slope with his woodland mermaid Dr. Gonzo and a bunch of roommates. He can be reached at







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