When I first heard a group of Jerusalem musicians were going to attempt to
recreate the magic of Alice In Chains’ classic 90s MTV Unplugged acoustic
concert and album, I thought, “Good luck.”
However, when the tribute
band, called Rooster, finished their late-night debut performance, I gave them a
The legendary all-acoustic performance first aired as
part of MTV’s popular Unplugged series in May of 1996.
Tragically, it was
one of the band’s last gigs with celebrated lead-singer Layne Staley, who died
of a heroin and cocaine overdose in 2005, at the age of 34.
haunting vocal style and dark lyrics helped propel the band to stardom during
the peak of the 90s grunge movement, founded the beloved alternative/metal group
with lead-guitarist Jerry Cantrell in Seattle in 1987.
enormous shoes to fill, Rooster did not disappoint.
Indeed, during their
13-song tribute at Blaze Bar – a popular downtown- Jerusalem rock showcase for
local artists, owned by brothers Yehi and Yanir Zaken – the group had a packed
house in the palms of their hands.
“We chose to do our debut at Blaze Bar
because Yehi and Yanir are diehard Alice In Chains fans, and the first time I
heard them was when Yehi played me the MTV Unplugged album over a year ago,”
said Rooster’s founder, veteran Jerusalem musician Eliyahu
Sidikman, who also fronts Long Time Gone, Crystal Ship, and
Lijah And The Firecats – all tribute bands, respectively dedicated to Crosby,
Stills and Nash, The Doors and Cat Stevens – said hearing Alice In Chains’s
much-heralded 90s acoustic performance that day inspired him to recreate it with
other local musicians.
“I floated the idea to mega-singer Gershon
Fischer, from the [Jerusalem] band Pritzat Disc, and a year later we finally got
to do it,” added Sidikman.
Performing a set list featuring the original
band’s seminal hits “Would,” “Down In a Hole,” “Them Bones,” and perhaps the
group’s most famous song, “Rooster,” lead-singer Fischer, et al, delighted the
mostly 20-something audience.
Backed up by Sidikman on guitar and vocals,
lead-guitarist Aryeh Even Tsur, bassist Orr Gedalya and drummer Avi Friedman,
Fischer tapped into Staley’s brilliant, and evocative, 1996
To be sure, the audience – most of whom were infants when
the original group recorded the acoustic concert – took in the masterful
rendition with the same enthusiasm as Gen-Xer’s, like myself, did nearly 20
Sidikman, who plans to debut Rooster in Tel Aviv in the
near future, said it was important for him to have the first concert in
Jerusalem, where he lives.
“Of course we’re going to take it to the usual
places in Tel Aviv, and do a special performance at the Esso Bar in Rishon,” he
said. “But we owed it to all our friends and fans at home to prove that
Jerusalem knows how to rock.”
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