Concert review: Matisyahu (with the Constellations) lift spirits at the Pageant, Wednesday, November 14

Matisyahu at the Pageant. Photo by Abby Gillardi.

Memories were made and lives were changed on Wednesday night thanks to Matisyahu and his songs of love, perseverance, acceptance and thankfulness.

The Pageant walls vibrated with anticipation as Matisyahu lovers of all ages filed in one after another in hopes of a show nothing short of transcendent. Before Matisyahu and friends took the stage the Constellations from Atlanta opened the show with sounds of Southern rock, swamp rock, soul and hip-hop. The band created quite an arousal for the fervent crowd and listeners responded with plenty of woops and hand waves. The highlight of the set was the funky and fresh “Right Where I Belong” from the Constellations’ most recent album “Do It for Free.” The band came equipped with tight drums, overdriven guitar and an afro’d bass player who used his hair pick as a guitar pick at one point.

Intermission came and went, the gear was changed and the lights were finally dropped to present the moment we were all awaiting for. The pulsating introduction featured the guitarist and bassist both on synthesizers and the drummer striking every drum within his reach. After the brilliant intro and light show, Matisyahu clad in a leather jacket and shades came out with his signature prayer-like chant. He may have dropped his Hasidic image but his intensity and energy has yet to be altered.

Several songs like “Crossroads” from his newest album featured more of Matisyahu’s elongated and ornate calls and chants with nothing but soft and repetitive bass, guitar and drums following him. Throughout the show, Matisyahu made all fans happy and played several songs from all of his albums including slightly reworked versions of well-knowns “King Without a Crown” and “Youth.” Even with these more popular tunes it was somewhat difficult to hear what he said but it was surely felt.

Later on in the night Matisyahu introduced St. Louis native, Micah Manaitai to sing “Sunshine” with him and the band. Micah won the opportunity by covering the song in a YouTube contest and was personally picked by Matisyahu to perform the song. The young St. Louisan led the crowd in bursts of fresh and raw energy that was contagious to all, including Matisyahu.

The band played mostly that old familiar reggae and dub that we know Matisyahu for, but they also delved deeply into hard rock, electronic and noise to create a spiritual experience. It was clear that Matisyahu was under the spirit as well — smiles abounded and he even faithfully leaped open-armed into the crowd on two occasions during “King Without a Crown.”

To close out the night, he chose the visionary and hopeful tune “One Day” as encore. During the song Matisyahu invited as many people as possible on stage to help him sing and dance. Several fans stood arm-in-arm with Matisyahu singing out the last of the song. The night wrapped up like the end of a feel-good blockbuster that seemed to stick with the crowd well beyond the venue walls.

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