CONCERT REVIEW by Gareth Narunsky. Israeli metal band Orphaned Land wowed its fans at a fantastic concert at The Espy in St Kilda last Saturday night.
It was the first Australian concert tour for the originators of the “Oriental metal” genre, who didn’t disappoint with their unique mix of heavy metal, folk, acoustic, traditional synagogue themes and Middle Eastern melodies.
The band – consisting of singer Kobhi Farhi, guitarists Chen Balbus and Idan Amsalem, bassist Uri Zelcha and drummer Matan Shmuely – performed songs primarily from its three most recent albums: 2004’s Mabool, 2010’s The Never Ending Way of OrWarrior and last year’s All Is One. And the numbers were musically tight, very uplifting and memorable.
Orphaned Land opened with Through Fire and Water before launching into the powerful title track from All Is One and then exploring some eclectic highlights of the band’s repertoire.
Highlights included Barakah, Sapari and In Thy Never Ending Way from OrWarrior, with lead singer Farhi inviting the audience to sing on the latter, Birth of the Three and Ocean Land from Mabool, and The Simple Man and Let the Truce be Known from All Is One.
The band’s message of peace has won it fans all over the Arab world, even in countries hostile to Israel. During the concert Farhi continued the message, declaring Israelis and Arabs are brothers and sisters, and dedicating the beautiful ballad Brother to the “sons of Ishmael”.
Another touching moment in the show was a haunting acoustic rendition of one the band’s earliest songs, The Beloved’s Cry. Throughout the show, the band was professional and didn’t miss a beat, while as a frontman Farhi was eloquent, engaging and kept the crowd under his spell.
He encouraged the audience to feel a part of the show, asking them to clap, jump and sing, and most importantly to unite and celebrate being together in the name of music.
Finishing with Norra El Norra, not a soul in the audience was left untouched by the power, message and musical prowess of the band.
Orphaned Land also played a special acoustic performance at Deakin University in Melbourne last Friday, followed by a Q&A session.
The songs took on a different yet equally powerful feel in that format, while the Q&A – in which Farhi discussed the band’s history, style and message of unity – was insightful and informative.
Orphaned Land’s tour of Australia, which also included concerts in Sydney and Brisbane, marked the 40th country that the band has performed in.
PHOTO of Orphaned Land performing at a special acoustic show at Deakin University, Melbourne. Photo by Lochlan Tangas