Review: Romanticism & rock, both superbly performed

A local band with international aspirations, Missflag proves its far-ranging capabilities in a riveting set before a full house of fans.

missflag music 88 298 (photo credit: )
missflag music 88 298
(photo credit: )
MISSFLAG Syndrome Club, Jerusalem April 14 I've seen my share of big-time rock bands before they made it to the big time - The Cars in a 100-seat club, as well as Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers and Graham Parker & the Rumour in slightly larger venues. There was just a sense, for all of them, that their moment was coming, that the stage they were playing on and the audience they were playing to were just too small to soak in the full scope of their talent. That's the feeling I got again after seeing missflag. A local band with international aspirations, the quintet certainly proved its far-ranging capabilities Saturday night in a riveting set before a full house of fans who knew all the words (in English) to the songs from the band's Coldplay-inspired debut, To Infinity. The band comes into its own performing live, with star-quality songs, stage presence and musicianship. On a small club stage, this made-for-arenas band is simply overpowering. Singer/guitarist Ohad Ellam tends to veer off-key when trying to emote over the crescendo of the music, but makes up for it with charisma, a tremendous range and boundless energy. The rest of the band members, especially lead guitarist Assa Bukelman, are full of inventiveness and confidence, traits that help them establish a mighty groove. And they look like they're having fun, something most Israeli bands are too self-important to care about. These guys should be playing the Hangar in Tel Aviv, not the Syndrome. Catch them there, though, and at other small venues like it, while you can. Someday you'll be able to say you saw Missflag back when. • David Brinn ISRAEL CAMERATA Jerusalem Theater April 14 In an unconventional move that proved a pleasant surprise for his audience, Irish pianist John O'Conor opened the Israel Camerata's fifth subscription concert Saturday with Nocturnes by Field, Chopin and Scriabin. In doing so, he provided the missing Romantic link between the Mozart and Stravinsky selections that were to follow. Scriabin's piece in particular was a tour de force, with O'Conor brilliantly accomplishing what many pianists could only have done with three hands. Stravinsky's "Pulcinella" is not necessarily the composer's best work, coming across much more blunt than the Pergolesi piece on which it's based. But regardless of where it stands among the rest of Stravinsky's repertoire, the piece is a tricky task for any orchestra, and conductor Avner Biron steered his Camerata players past its many traps with aplomb. And O'Conor's rendition of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21 was a polished, smoothly flowing pleasure. • Ury Eppstein