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Concert Review: Business class campfire
"Volume Unplugged" Festival
Hangar 11, Tel-Aviv
Given that cellular phones tend to produce synthetic ring tones, one may wonder why Cellcom chose to bestow sponsorship on Tel Aviv's first unplugged music festival last week.
The "Volume Unplugged" Festival, which took place at Hangar 11, featured the band Mashina, a musical chameleon that dominated Israel's music scene in the Nineties. The choice of Mashina may not have been coincidental, though - the band has a previous relationship with Cellcom. The first four gigs they performed following the release of their 2005 album, Romantika Atidanit were open exclusively to Cellcom customers. The decision to limit their audience brought heavy criticism on Mashina, who were blamed for trading their artistic soul for corporate dollars. Ulimately the album was a flop.
Now back in the spotlight with their Cellcom sponsors, Mashina closed the Unplugged Festival surrounded by candlesticks and chandeliers. They were dressed down in black, except for bass player Michael Benson, who wore a geometric white shirt reminiscent of his style over a decade ago.
They kicked off the show with strong harmonies, playing four acoustic guitars, the keyboard and drums. They were also backed by drummer Iggy Dayan's brother, Naor, on guitar. When Iggy switched to a Darbuka and Avner Hoderov played accordion in "Ba'derech El Hayam" the late 20's-early 30's crowd began to get into the music.
Mashina played it safe, though, giving the crowd its old hits like "At Baa Levaker," "Shla'ch Li Mal'ach," "Bo'ee Ve'nipol." Many songs from their album Hamofa Shell Si Haregesh found their way into the set as well. The recognizable songs were enriched, however, by cover performances of Chris Isaak songs, "Tzlil Mechuvan," and more.
Even though Hangar 11's large space wasn't ideal for this concert, Mashina succeeded creating an intimacy with the audience. Lead man Yuval Banai told the crowd the concert felt like "traveling business class." Judging by the audience's reaction, it was more like a gathering by the campfire - singing along with songs everyone knew, while dancing in the aisles.
Other highlights of the evening were "Anigodin" in a Reggae beat and "Hakol Hitchil Be'Naser," in which the band kicked away their stools. Banai tried to dance, but soon had to stop. Apparently, even these "monsters of glory" can age. After the show, Banai said they enjoyed the new acoustic experience, and hoped to do it again.
With two encores including "Danny" and "Mashehu Katan Ve'Tov" these musical chameleons have proven they have what it takes to rise from the proverbial ashes.