Raichel takes a different tack, yet again, and that's fine
City Winery, Boston, March 19, 2019
Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz
When Idan Raichel is in the house, rest assured that you can dispense with your preconceived notions of what the concert will be like - assuming you've seen him before. That's because the Israeli star will take a different tack every time around.
Such was the case, of course, at his sold-out show in an extremely intimate, 200-person club setting (Raichel is hitting five of the City Winery clubs in the U.S. along with a few other gigs).
There was no Project to be backing Raichel. It was just the bald-pated singer at his piano. He came out onstage, crouching over the grand piano as he gently and very slowly played notes intermittently before more fully getting into the song.
The songs were ultimately familiar - this was no uber radical interpretation a la Dylan where the song was unrecognizable, but it may have taken awhile for Raichel to get there.
Over the course of 95 minutes, Raichel treated us to updated versions fit for a solo performance of many of his best-known songs. He doesn't have the strongest, most vibrant voice going, and he may not be a virtuoso on piano either.
But, yet again, Raichel put it all together for a most warm, entertaining show.
Ultimately, that all starts with the songs, whether one of the first songs, "She'eriyot Shel HaChayim ("Scraps of Life") or the closing number of the night, "Bo-ee" ("Come With Me") or "Im Telech" ("If You Go") or pretty much the entire set. Raichel has a plethora of well-written songs at his disposal.x
While mainly on piano, Raichel also went to keyboards for a few songs and even played acoustic guitar for one number, while acknowledging with characteristic humor "I have zero talent for guitar."
Raichel received help on two songs from Lynda Thalie, a singer originally from Algeria, who has lived in Montreal for many years. They met at his gig there last week, and she decided to drive down to catch his Boston show. Thalie, who has released material in Canada, has a gorgeous, full, emotive voice, singing admirably on "Yo Mama." Her surprise presence only added to the uplifting feeling of the evening.
Raichel clearly was calling his own shots, doing what he wants to do as a performer. He deserved full credit for taking chances, which also could have meant leaving the fans behind.
But that was far from the case. Raichel's fans gladly went along for the ride. Once again, a most energizing and worthwhile journey.