Tandu celebrates joyous piyyutim - review

Joined by a violinist, percussionist, bassist and guitarist, the sisters joyfully performed Jewish songs and piyyutim (liturgical poems) to original.

 TANDU, with sister Yahala (left) and Shani Lachmish, perform on Monday night in Jerusalem. (photo credit: ALDEN TABAC)
TANDU, with sister Yahala (left) and Shani Lachmish, perform on Monday night in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: ALDEN TABAC)

In a scene reminiscent of The Beatles final performance on the roof of the Apple Corps headquarters in London, young local act Tandu celebrated the launch of their debut studio album, Savtuna, with a rooftop concert of their own. Over 200 fans flocked to the roof of the Klal Building in Jerusalem, on Sunday night, to see the band perform tracks from its new album.

The night began with a toast to mark the occasion. Shani and Yahala Lachmish, two sisters who front the band, recited biblical verses pertaining to first fruits, before making a blessing over wine to mark the release of their first album, which they named Savtuna in honor of their grandmothers.

Joined by a violinist, percussionist, bassist and guitarist, the sisters joyfully performed Jewish songs and piyyutim (liturgical poems) to original, as well as borrowed, melodies. I was pleasantly surprised by the noticeable influence of both Mizrahi and Ashkenazi music in their compositions. While some songs clearly stuck to one style, others blended motifs and instrumentation from different cultures.

“Tandu means togetherness,” Lachmish told the crowd. “We like bringing different things together, like languages, cultures and traditions.” The sisters also brought together their contrasting voices, alternating between solos, singing in unison and harmonizing.

In addition, the setlist alternated between a variety of musical styles from outside of traditional Jewish music. In “Shalom Lecha Dodi,” the band played complex polyrhythms typical of jazz fusion and switched from a 5:4 to a 3:4 time signature in the middle of the song. This impressed me, given that such changes are abnormal outside of progressive rock.

Tandu performs at Tmol Shilshom (credit: GAL LACHMISH)Tandu performs at Tmol Shilshom (credit: GAL LACHMISH)

A groovy funk bassline laid the foundation for “El Adir,” and “Hallelujah” was marked by an Afro-Cuban rhythm that would not be out of place in a Latin jazz tune. “We want to blend many sounds and feelings,” Lachmish explained.

“We like bringing different things together, like languages, cultures and traditions.”

Yahala Lachmish

The incorporation of stylistic elements from different time periods and locales demonstrated that the ancient words the sisters sang are still very much relevant and open to interpretation in today’s diverse Israeli society.

The audience sings along

Many in the audience sang along to the original compositions, having heard them at previous performances. Fans also joined the Lachmish sisters in their renditions of well-known classics, including “Yedid Nefesh” and “Avinu Malkeinu,” which I could not resist singing along to, myself.

The performance closed out with a lively rendition of “El Ram Chasin Ya” that brought the crowd to their feet, followed by an upbeat version of the Friday night staple, “Shalom Aleichem.” “It’s so fun to see people dancing to piyyutim!” Shani Lachmish exclaimed.

Savtuna can be found on Spotify, and the band will be promoting the album with performances around the country in July and August.