Raichel reinvents the wheel for a change

City Winery, Boston, June 8, 2023

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

It's pretty much a given that no two Idan Raichel tours will be alike. Historically, the Israeli so-called world music (that's a relative term, isn't it?) artist seems to do something different every time he hits the concert trail. When Raichel was here in November, he was with a large band filled with a multitude of lead singers and musicians in what ultimately turned out to be a dance fest.

He was back before a seemingly largely Israeli crowd in a club setting instead of a concert hall by his lonesome – for the most part – on piano.

Now while Bob Dylan and Raichel are oceans apart musically, what they share in common is an ability to rework songs, giving them different treatments. In the case of Raichel on this night, the changes were not entirely unrecognizable (unlike Dylan), but not necessarily overtly familiar either at first.

Raichel typically was given to noodling a bit on the piano, weaving in the melody just a little bit as to sound familiar before launching into the song.

And given that there was no one else, Raichel handled all of the vocal chores. It may not be his strongest suit (especially in comparison to the ultra high quality of the singers he typically has employed on every tour), but it also was nice to hear the writer of the songs present them in his own voice.

What was very different this time around was that a few fans came up during two different songs to play and sing with Raichel. Raichel said he met Cory, an accordion player earlier in the day. While Raichel joked that he too played the accordion as youth, Cory won Raichel's approval, who sasid, "you really make it cool.". On "Boee," Raichel and Cory engaged in a tete a tete playing lines. Cory was up to the task.

Later, Tutti Druyan hit the stage after her sister apparently caught Raichel's ear that she could sing. A professional singer, an Israeli who lives nearby, she proved to have the vocal chops as well in singing "Yesh Bi Od Ko'ach," a song demanding a strong female lead.

Both interludes could have been a musical downer and set killer. Fortunately, neither was.

This was also indicative of the kind of show Raichel presented. In effect, he played without a net. There was no set list, according to Raichel, although he did offer most of his biggest songs and also went into deeper cuts.

In his hands, pretty much everything seemed to work. Yes, it's great to hear such songs as "Mi'ma'amakim (Out of the Depths)," played in a way the audience most likely had never heard before. Once again, Raichel proved himself to be a creative, inventive musician. There's a lot to be said for reinventing the wheel.

© Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher • countrystandardtime@gmail.com
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