The Event Concert Review

New York – From the moment you walk up to Madison Square Garden you see that it’s a whole different level then Avery Fisher Hall where the HASC and OHEL shows have been the last 4 or 5 years. MSG is a massive theater where every seat is a perfect seat. The stage was set beautifully, but it’s a shame they didn’t use the same updated concepts at HASC 22 and Shwekey Caesaria this year. It’s a nicer overall stage than Avery Fisher.

Let’s first do a quick recap of the show, and then we’ll get into what worked and what didn’t.

The show started with the Yeshiva Boys Choir singing classic Pirchei songs. They sang Utzei Eitzuh, Eilecha among a few others. This part felt a little flat. Maybe a little bit of it would have been ok, but they did sing a lot and even came back out later on to sing more. I think it’s possible if you add up Lipa and YBC’s stage time YBC was on longer, overall.

Then the stage darkened and Lipa came out to a soul stirring and emotional Poshiter Yid. It was very good, and Lipa performed it very well. Allthough I’d have liked to see Lipa come out to a faster more upbeat song.

I notice Yaron Gershovsky with an electronic keyboard on one side and a grand piano on the other. I see Jim Hynes and Yanky Katina, both sounding crisp and amazing. I don’t know who was on bass but whoever it was, was kicking it all night long! I also see a 12 piece string section which really added a ton to the sound of the show. Overall the music, led by Yisroel Lamm was top notch and really contributed to the evening.

Lipa then sings Wake Up, I see a three man choir, one of the choir guys is Mo Kiss. After Wake Up, Lipa conducts a Siyum on Mesechtas Megilah. It’s quite a sight, he ends the Siyum and then goes into Torah Shebiksav. This Siyum is really a Kiddush Hashem and one major, giant “told you so” to all those who were expecting a “goyishe” evening. There was an overall chassidishe feel to the show.

Photo credits: and Eli.

Next Lipa does an extended Purim set, with clowns, dancing, shtick and all. He starts it with the song Romania set to “Purim”, but does a long medley and Lebidige songs. It felt like a set out of Non Stop.

Next there is a video of Lipa and Dedi as babies. (Lipa is chubby baby and Dedi is “very very small” baby) separated at birth and they search for each other in the Israeli Army where both are there. Hilarity ensues, it’s a hysterical video, the crowd loves it and Dedi comes out to massive applause.

Dedi starts off with Sim Shalom and the crowd is eating Dedi up with a spoon. I’ve seen Dedi many times at shows, but I’ve never seen a crowd this excited for Dedi. I had heard Dedi was working on a new CD. He mentioned it at Ohel. I hope it’s coming soon because Dedi has never sounded better.

Dedi then sings a few of his classics, each one very well received by the crowd.

Yeshiva Boys Choir/New Pirchei is back on stage and it’s just a little boring. Nothing against these kids or the people working with them, but to go from the excitement Lipa and Dedi brought back to this, is just a buzz kill. Yossi Newman introduces the famed Pirchei Ani Maamin song. The kids sing it well, some nice solos, but overall I think this whole part of the show should have been dropped.

It reminded me very much of the weaker points from the Hasc 18 show. In that show it was the Rabbi’s Sons. It’s a nice idea, and it’s fun to have some nostalgia, but it has to be in very small doses. People want the headliner and they want fast and new stuff.

Speaking of the Rabbi’s sons, the first surprise of the evening is Baruch Chait, who comes out with Acheinu and Sruly Williger. This is where things start going wrong. This seemed to be the overall main complaint of the show, not enough Lipa, and I think if half of the YBC set would have been cut and we didn’t need this Baruch Chait/Acheinu set either. They did two songs, and again it was very nostalgic, and they performed very well, but it zapped the energy out of the crowd that Lipa and Dedi brought.

The crowd went from being on their feet, to being talkative, and waiting for the next Lipa showing. At one point since there was no intermission, and it felt like the halfway point many people were leaving to go to the bathroom.

Next we got Abie Rotenberg via video which woke up the crowd a little. Before Abie went on little Yehuda Teitelbaum, grandson of R Eli Teitelbaum ZT”L gave a ten minute tribute to his zayde. It was heartwarming and very interesting. Jam packed with tons of jewish music history.

Abie then sings by the Piano a new song he wrote for R’ Teitelbaum titled “Somewhere”, as in Somewhere there is a star shining bright. It’s an unbelievable song, which I hope we all get to hear again soon sometime. Halfway through the song MBD walks up behind Abie in the video and continues singing with him. At this point it was perfect but then things got messy. The YBC/Pirchei boys come out, along with Acheinu and Sruly Willger and then Lipa and they are all singing it together. Problem is it becomes a garbled mess and every ones vocals are drowning out each other. I think this song would have ended much better just being Abie and MBD. Still, the song was amazing and it was good to see Abie and MBD by a piano again, reminding us of the old time HASC shows.

Next Shloime Gertner comes in via video and says he is in Spain and can’t be there but they did a video for the song Shmeichel, whose lyrics were composed by Lipa. The video is fun, shloime sounds great and it’s a nice addition all though all the video guest stars is a bit of a tease.

It then occurs to me the irony of the situation. If you think back to how and when Lipa first hit the mainstream it was in this venue, on this stage singing Gelt by video. That was the thing that started his main transition from random Chaseedishe singer, to where he is today.

Thinking back to that HASC 17 show (Which also featured MBD) no one would have guesses the guy doing the yiddish music video would end up doing this major show, centered around him. So maybe all the video guests is very appropriate.

Next Lipa comes down and does a nice medley put together by the amazing Motti Illowitz. A lot of Lipa’s golden oldies and of course some new stuff including Motti’s Yener and Biyan Adi Ad.

Then Lipa says he is going to sing his Yiddish version of Just one Shabbos. (Nor Ein Shabbos) He says he will try to do the second half in English. Halfway through the song, Mordechai Ben David walks down the stairs and the entire building goes bananas. I’ve never seen a crowd get this excited before. People are all standing, clapping, singing, dancing. It’s unbelievable. For whatever weaknesses the show had, the entire night is worth it for this amazing energy.

MBD and LIPA on stage singing this classic piece of Jewish Music is enough to overwhelm the senses. Lipa then tells the crowd, “people always ask me, who is your role model”, he points to MBD and shouts, “THIS! This is my role model!!” Lipa walks off stage and MBD does an amazing 30 minute set, filled with amazing intensity and energy.

The crowd hardly sits down the entire 30 minutes. Toward the middle MBD starts talking about Moshiach and before he even gets a chance the ENTIRE building is chanting Anovim, Anovim. MBD smiles, finishes his story and the instant classic, Anovim is being sung. My only complaint here is that the 12 piece string section is sitting and doing nothing. Why wasn’t the string section being used by Anovim?

MBD then does Maminim Bni Maminim and says good night. The crowd is chanting, MBD, MBD, MBD. It was a wild sight, and one I don’t think anyone at the show will soon forget.

Lipa comes back on, with barely ten minutes left to the show and sings Raboisai and Hantelach. The show ends as it was for so much of the night, which the crowd on its feet.

Final thoughts, overall the show was amazing, we could done without YBC and/or Achienu Williger. I’m not saying they werent good, but it took away from the LIPA part of the show and the sets were very slow and drained a lot of the energy from the crowd.

MBD, Dedi and Lipa all rocked the night and did an amazing job getting people excited, happy, dancing and smiling. Abie’s video was also really beautiful and it helped set up the MBD surprise by seeing him on video because that lowered expectations he’d be there in person.

I had heard rumors Fried would be there, but I guess those turned out to be false. I think the big complaint, and rightfully so, was that there wasn’t enough of Lipa. That’s why I feel that if we would have cut out YBC and Lipa could have sung in those spots, it would have been perfect. We did not get a lot of Lipa and that was unfortunate.

For a first “Event” this was an amazing success. It’s the shows first year and despite HASC and OHEL having decades of shows, the event competed with any major Jewish music concert without a doubt. Lipa is an amazing performer and he may have been too tame during the show and he was certainly under used. It was great to see icons of Jewish Music like MBD and Dedi literally bringing down the house.

I think the entire event made a Kiddush Hashem and lifted every ones spirits in thsi month of Adar less then two weeks before Purim.

A very big Yasher Koach to everyone involved in making this how happen, we hope to have many more events in the coming years! (hopefully next year in yerushalayim!)

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