When Israeli rock legends Mashina walked onto the specially-designed stage at Tel Aviv’s Barby club Sunday night, with no introduction and a few mundane songs, it looked as if the night would be uneventful. While the show got off to a slow start, by the end of the evening everyone was on their feet dancing and singing along to the nostalgic hits.

What made this gig unique was the “theater in the round” style stage, with the band members sitting in a circle facing each other. In an attempt to replicate MTV’s famous Unplugged concerts, an intimate mood was set by candles and the crowd’s close proximity to the stage.

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The legendary Barby venue, which lends itself well to rock performances, was the perfect setting for this special show with its various levels and little nooks and crannies.

While most of the audience was in the late 20s to early 30s age bracket, having listened to Mashina as kids in the early 90s, there was also representation well into the 40s and 50s.

The opening number of “Az Lama Li Politica Ahshav” (Why politics for me now) got the show off to a slow start and the crowd took quite some time to get into the groove. The pace picked up as the gig went on, and the audience started to participate a little more during “Bederech El Hayam” (On the way to the ocean).

While during the first few songs the band members didn’t really say anything, to each other or to the crowd, as the evening continued some playful banter began, with band members joking about the fact that could actually see each other’s faces while performing for once, and that this was putting them off.

The turning point in the evening was when lead singer Yuval Banai broke out with a verse of the classic Eurovision hit “Hallelujah.” With the whole crowd singing along in unison, the intimate venue suddenly came alive and the band rolled out some of their most well-known hits.

The choice to leave the best till last was a wise one as it meant that the evening ended on a high. While the classic “Ein Makom Aher” (There is no other place) had everyone singing along, it was the timeless “Ahake Lach Besadot” (I’ll wait for you in the fields) that really brought down the house. The band left the stage to a standing ovation.

Less than five minutes later they were back on stage for the encore, which kept everyone on their feet until the bitter end.

Judging by the cheering fans, along with band’s clear expression of enjoyment at what they were doing, it’s fair to say that these rockers are growing old gracefully, and are better than ever.

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