Orphaned Land in Tel-Aviv: Live Review

By on 22 July 2013


Orphaned Land hometown concerts are always more than just a gig. Musically completely different, but in terms of atmosphere, it is similar to the way Killing Joke London shows are ‘gatherings’ to raise disciples’ spirits and strengthen them for future trials and confrontations with unavoidable banalities of evil and of life in general. In OL’s case, there is a suitable Arabic word for it, also commonly used in Hebrew: HAFLA. That is to say, one huge party. As a friend present whose job was to cater for the interest in the band expressed by non-metal media entities like The Guardian, who actually came down, commented, the only thing missing was shots fired in the air. Which of course is the only characteristic of a Hafla that isn’t suitable to the most peace-seeking metal band ever. The fact that OL’s music makes the people come together is proven not only by the fact of their thousands of fans from Arabic countries and their messianic quest to unite monotheistic religions, but also by walking the walk and inviting Palestinian oriental metal band Khalas to open for them. The fact that they’re welcomed with much warmth in a Tel-Aviv venue is far from something to be taken for granted, and before anything else is a triumph for the superior values of metal as a tribe uniting individuals and transcending both national and political convictions. But OL do not stop there. They also bridge cultures within Jewish Israeli society by collaborating with mainstream musicians whose ethnic origins are not western and light years away from metal, like Yehuda Poliker who wrote the anthemic, heart-wrenching, Hebrew-sung “Shama’im for them, and Kobi Aflalo who composed “Let the Truce Be Known”, and, many years ago, allowed them to adapt his take on “Nora El Nora,” an outmost precious piece of Jewish liturgy. Tonight, he sings it on stage with them, as does an entire entourage of special guests (like singer Mira Awad) providing soaring arabic and oriental Jewish vocals to frontman Kobi Farhi’s rousing sermons, something which reaches spine-tingling heights with a stroming “Sapari.” It’s a damn shame all those guests, as well as a row of extra musicians playing anything from flute to darbuka drums, will not be accompanying the band as they embark on their tour of East and West Europe. It’s telling of the band’s rising influence that a delegation of Europeans actually dragged itself all the way to Israel to watch them.


No matter how uplifting and celebratory OL’s concerts always were, it’s now impossible to imagine a set without songs off ‘All is One’ in it. The title track is now an unavoidable roof-raising show opener, and if to some it’s perhaps a bit overwhelming in its Lloyd-Weberesque scorched-earth steamrolling swagger on record (and that’s before mentioning the music video starring everyone including God), live it is simply irresistible and indeed, the venue lights up immediately. And, while anything off ‘Mabool’, probably still the fave OL album among long-time fans, is greeted with roars, one can witness children, teenagers, muscular metalheads, parents, aunts and yarmulke-donning folk all sing along to everything off “All Is One” as well as “OrWarrior”. Headbanging, arms raised not in fists but in more delicate, ornamental gestures, and especially smiles – both on and off stage – are what OL’s Haflas of utter empowerment are all about. Rejoice brothers and sisters!

WORDS: Avi Pitchon

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