Concert Review: K’s Choice

Bettens told a cheering Tel Aviv audience on that “Israel really is the best crowd in the world."

K's Choice 311 (photo credit: Sarah Weinberg)
K's Choice 311
(photo credit: Sarah Weinberg)
When Belgian singer/songwriter/guitarist Sarah Bettens told a cheering Tel Aviv audience on Monday night that “Israel really is the best crowd in the world,” it was clear that the admiration was mutual. And the Split Enz cover that she and fellow K’s Choice members – her brother, Gert Bettens, and keyboardist Reinout Swinnen – launched straight into afterwards didn’t hurt either.
There was no fanfare, no pomp or ceremony, and no opener to the acoustic concert, with supporters filing quietly into the wood-panelled Gesher Theater to light tunes filtering through the theater’s sound system. The three walked onto the stage to applause, sat down in a row, and opened with “Killing Dragons” from their 2010 album Echo Mountain, arranged with haunting harmonies and soft, deliberate accompaniments which continued throughout the show.
With dim lighting, usually just a colored glow on the simple backdrop and a muted spotlight on each artist, the trio delivered an intimate show, peppered by rearranged versions of both old and new K’s Choice pieces, as well as a slew of well-received covers.
A definite highlight, and one of the more upbeat pieces, was a cover of The Pointer Sisters’ “I’m so excited,” just before intermission. Picking up a ukulele, Sarah told the crowd, “I’ve loved this song since I was 10.” The audience also lapped up a cover of Radiohead’s “No Surprises,” a favorite among Israelis.
While Sarah’s deep, clear, signature voice pulled the show together, her partners had the chance to show off their musical versatility as well. Gert switched constantly and impressively between acoustic guitars, a mandolin, a lap steel, a harmonica and various percussion instruments, often simultaneously. Swinnen, too, paused on his light keyboard melodies to play a glockenspiel during a Damien Rice cover, “Cannonball.”
From soulful three-part harmonies to more upbeat, foot-stamping, almost country arrangements, the show was an obvious success, evidenced by the three standing ovations. After a couple of solo pieces and a hummus joke during the second encore, Sarah told the crowd, “Okay, this is really the last time we’re coming back on!” Having played four previous concerts in Tel Aviv in the past 14 years, it was clear that K’s Choice, in whatever form, will receive a warm welcome next time round, too.