August 3, 2010
Regency Ballroom, San Francisco
The youthful crowd, punctuated here and there by a white-bearded Jewish elder, was restless, chanting Matis… Yahu… Matis… Yahu… until a tiny voice began its own repetition. From off-stage, the boy repeated his father’s words as a hush descended over those who waited. Finally, they walked onto the stage hand in hand, each gripping a microphone. As father and son sang a quiet duet, love, guidance, and tradition glowed from them. Afterward, Matisyahu, swaying gently on his feet, launched into a diverse set of reggae, liberally infused with rock, hip-hop, and spoken word.
Clearly his rocket to stardom has given him a lot to ponder and has provided him with a perch to reach out to not only the reggae crowd, but also the young Jewish kids seeking to connect with their own heritage. During the song “Jerusalem” (“Jerusalem if I forget you then my right hand forget what it’s supposed to do”), a group of men, heads covered, prayer shawls worn proudly, jumped up and down ecstatically. Reggae has always been spiritual music, but Matisyahu brings a new dimension, look, and audience to Jah’s music.