Anyone who thought that Assaf Avidan might roll over and play dead following the break up of his destined-for-worldwide-stardom Assaf Avidan and the Mojos better think twice.

Following a three-year contract with Sony that yielded two excellent albums and name-making tours in North America, Europe and Asia (chronicled nicely in the new documentary Final Stages), the 32-year-old Avidan has gone back to stage one, forming a new band and releasing an album on the local High Fidelity label that shows him embracing electronic keyboards and beats, courtesy of Balkan Beat Box’s Tamir Muskat.


At a tuneup show of the new band and album Different Pulses on Saturday night before a packed and adoring crowd at Zappa Jerusalem,  (before the official debut on September 27 at Theater Club in Tel Aviv and September 28 at the Shoni Amphitheater in Binyamina) Avidan proved that despite the complexion of the music and instrumentation of his band, he’s still and engaging, powerful performer who deserves a wide audience.


Handling electric guitar chores himself, Avidan was backed by cellist/keyboardist Karnii Postal, keyboardist Tom Darom, vocalist/percussionist Michal Bashiri, and drummer Hagai Frishtman. The three women regularly provided subtle and haunting vocal counterpoint to Avidan’s trademark high-pitched wails as he introduced hypnotic songs from the new album like “Setting Scalpels Free” and the rhythmic single “Love it or Leave It.”


The new material, despite its groove orientation and electronic backing, came alive onstage with the band displaying a rocking groove despite the lack of a bass guitar. Darom’s buzzing keyboards fill any gaps, providing a broad landscape for Avidan’s inventive guitar lines. When the band turned to older, well-known material from Avidan’s The Reckoning, the crowd took over singing most of the lyrics to the delight of the front man.


Wishing everyone a “Shana Tova”,  Avidan left the stage after and hour and-a-half, with his mojo still definitely intact.


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