Sunday, January 5, 2014

Haproyect Shel Ravivo and Daklon - An Evening of Mizrahi Music

I wrote about some Mizrahi artists and music on November 17, 2013 (See "Israel's Mizrahi Music...").  The blog post was not comprehensive but was a look at few influential singers who have enjoyed significant popularity in Israel in the past few years.  I had not actually been to a concert to see any of them perform live, though I had certainly been to some weddings where a good part of the music was Mizrahi.

So last night, we decided to go and see the "Haproyect Shel Ravivo" (Ravivo's Project) at Hangar 11 at the Tel-Aviv Port.  The concert was scheduled for 9:30 p.m., well after Shabbat ended to ensure that people could make it from a variet of locations.  Hangar 11 is a club-style venue, with seating in the round, a rotating stage and a capacity of well over 1,500.  The food served is certified Kosher under the auspices of the Tel-Aviv Rabbinate (though we actually didn't eat any of it - the menu was fairly limited and the prices were not particularly appetizing...).

The concert was billed as a special event with Haproyect Shel Ravivo welcoming a guest performance by Daklon.  Daklon is considered one of the fathers of Israeli Mizrahi music.  Now almost 70 years old, Daklon was popular in Israel in the 1960s in some segments.  He would string together chains of Hebrew lyrics, sometimes biblical, to Mediterranean (Greek, Arabic and even Spanish/Italian) melodies.  To get a flavour for Daklon, here is a clip of him singing "Shabechi Yerushalayim":

Haproyect Shel Ravivo put together a collaborative song with Daklon in 2013 which has been well received in Israel.   At this concert last night, they introduced him enthusiastically as one of Israel's greatest musical pioneers.  Given his age, Daklon has slowed down quite a bit.  But the members of Proyect Shel Ravivo accompanied him to the stage.  They took turns helping him around the stage, staying near him while he was singing and generally showing a mixture of admiration, respect and comradery.  The only word that would really fit would be the Hebrew word "kavod" - which means respect and honour.  Daklon sang about three or four medleys with Haproyect and then they helped back down off the stage.  The audience enjoyed it and it was very moving.

Haproyect itself is a 10 piece band, which performs a variety of Mizrahi influenced music.  Much of the music is revival music - Israeli hits from the 60s and 70s that have been reworked into modern adaptations.  Some of the music is based on traditional Yemenite or other Mizrahi melodies.  Most of it is infectiously upbeat and, as they describe it in Hebrew - מוזיקה שעושה שמח- music that "makes you happy...".

The group is a cross generational band with some of the musicians in their late 20s or early 30s (like the drummer) and others, probably close to Daklon's age.  The three front men, the lead singers, are probably in their 40s, if I had to guess.  The electric bass player looked much older.  Haproyect was formed in 2012 and has enjoyed some great success in Israel.

The concert began at about (9:45 p.m.) with an instrumental meddley.  The three lead singers then joined, dressed in black shirts, jackets and dress pants.  While the lighting was varied and, at times, intense, the musicians themselves were relatively understated.  They welcomed the audience and just jumped right into a series of medleys that appear on their CDs. 

As the stage at Hangar 11 rotated around the room, the three singers took turns singing to different parts of the fully packed house.  The audience was appreciative but not raucous.  There were many people who had come in large groups.  Some were extended families with grandparents and children all together.  There were groups of 8 or 10 guys in their early 20s - and all sorts of other combinations.  There was a large group of women in their 30s sitting right near us.  While most of the audience were probably in their 40s and 50s, it was quite a wide ranging audience.

After about 45 minutes, Haproyect brought Daklon to the stage.  Once Daklon's performance concluded, the lead singers of Haproyect took off their jackets, changed into white shirts, and upped the tempo further.  They invited everyone to get up and dance ("you have our permission," lead singer Raviv told the audience).

They played a mixture of some new medleys as well as some of their most popular hits.  One of the new medleys featured a whole series of popular Israeli hits from the 1970s (including Eurovision song "Abonabee Abonabay").  People were singing along, dancing and generally having a fun time.  The band members were smiling throughout, joking with each other and with the audience and prancing around the stage.  They certainly seemed to be enjoying themselves.

Just before midnight., they played their second and final encore - "Ten La Z'man Lalechet" - their biggest hit medley, which I highlighted in my blog post on Mizrahi music.  It was charged with energy, fast moving and lots of fun.  Quite a fitting way to conclude an evening of finger snapping, toe-tapping, hand-clapping music. 

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