Thanks to a partnership between the Minneapolis Jewish Federation Women’s Philanthropy and Adath Jeshuran synagogue, Minneapolis was treated to a concert by the a capella YouTube sensation The Maccabeats. Their first visit to Minnesota, the Maccabeats had the sold out crowd dancing in their chairs and in the aisles.
I’ll say right off the bat that I was really impressed with the Maccabeats and thoroughly enjoyed the entire concert. Like most of you, I’ve seen a few of the YouTube videos, so I was expecting great harmonies, impressive arrangements, a sense of fun, and a mixture of Jewish and contemporary music. But I have to say, despite the ten million plus YouTube hits their videos have received, I actually don’t think those videos totally do the group justice. Of course that is usually true with hearing music live, but I didn’t know a vocal-only performance could have so much energy.
I believe a lot of that unexpected energy was provided by the beat boxer – Meyer Shapiro. First, the rhythms he was able to make with this mouth were really cool. His drum fill ins and ways he varied the beat were tasteful and right on, and his solo was jaw dropping. And while all eight performers had a lot of energy and appeared to be having fun, Meyer almost stole the show with his dancing and moving and smiling. He was having fun, and the beat box added so much to the arrangements. And during the concert we all even got a mouth drumming lesson!
But that’s not all. The music was regularly broken up with stories, educational lessons, and laughter. The guys really made it feel like a show customized for the Minnesota audience. They had the crowd laughing, dancing, and even holding up their smart phone lighter apps.
I may have been most impressed with how they appealed to everyone in the audience. It’s not often a five year old, 35 year old, and 75 year old all can equally enjoy a musical performance. But the Maccabeats combination of traditional Jewish melodies and parodies of current songs and cover songs (Don’t Stop Believin was a fun surprise for us children of the ’80s) had everyone engaged in the concert.
Those five and 75 year olds may have no idea who Andy Grammer is and never heard the song Keep Your Head Up before, but all of them were dancing in their seats, or in the aisles anyway. And while those upbeats songs had everyone clapping along, their ballads may have been even more impressive. I particularly liked when they took the great Leonard Cohen’s song Hallelujah (which most kids know because of Shrek), and put the words to Lecha Dodi to it.
Okay, obviously I enjoyed the concert. But I want this to not be just about my thoughts of the concert, I want it to be a “community review”. Please, if you went to the concert, put your own review in the comments below. I can’t wait to hear what your impressions of the concert.
While you’re at it, check out videos of “Don’t Stop Believin'” and “Keep Your Head Up” shot by our own Leora Itman.