“My Adventure Amongst The Israeli Metal Faithful”
Moonspell with special guests Desert
at Barby Club - Tel Aviv Israel October 17th 2016
By Matthew Haumschild
It’s the land of honey, the land of pain. Israel and the rest of that region is one of the, if not the, most historically read and talked about places in Earth’s history. The birth places of one major religion and spiritually significant to many other religions around the world. Peoples from all over the world have moved to this region to call it home from every continent because they have some sort of connection to this historical land. Metal, is not any different. Many have now classified those who listen to metal regularly are part of a sub-culture that began in the late 60’s - early 70’s in England and the United States, no one knows for certain, but has spread throughout the world and I became interested how other of my ilk act in Israel, if they are the same as I am or if they’re more like my European brothers and sisters.
The Club - Barby
I’ve attended shows all over the world and if I’ve learned anything at all, it’s that every club is different. Israel has a rather difficult language barrier because Hebrew is entirely different than any European language, even finding the club was a chore. Luckily, I had a friend in Tel Aviv that knew where the venue was, however, obtaining tickets on-line was very difficult unless one knew the local language and I had to take my chances buying tickets when arriving at the club. Barby, on the outside looked like something out of a horror movie, not on purpose. It was in a bad area of Tel Aviv and I didn’t exactly feel safe milling around the club before the show. I soon realized that things worked a bit different here than they did in the States. For example, people arrived wearing more shirts from “Grasspop,” “Summer Breeze,” “Pink Pop,” and “Wacken” than I’ve ever seen; and they arrived bringing their own beer. In the U.S. it’s illegal to drink alcohol openly on the street, if one does it has to be in a paper bag, so to see people go to the store a block away, grab a beer and walk over to stand in front of the club was…kind of funny and strange at the same time.
The gate opened a little late and since the bouncers were only shouting stuff in Hebrew I just assumed the first waive was for ticket holders, then the rest poured in, down this long-street-like passage way without a roof, to a large table with an entrance on each side. The person on the other side was caught off guard when I spoke in English to her, “yeah, can I get two tickets?” If she didn’t know English, it was going to be a rough night for us. Luckily for me, she spoke English and we got our tickets and proceeded to head into the club. Past the ticket table, I was looking for the merch counter, and I found it. No offense to Moonspell at all, but that was the most pathetic merch table I’ve ever seen. It was basically two card-tables pushed together with 4 or 5 shirts, a few patches and junk on there. I was just at a local show in Saint Paul with just local bands and their displays were better than this. Since there was a mob of people there, I couldn’t peruse the exact items. Beside the merch table was a guy selling Hot Dogs, another odd thing to see. Past the hotdog vendor was a pillar and two passageways into the club itself. It was black on the outside with some dim lights and as we turn went up three steps and turned the corner we noticed a giant chandelier and all the walls were blackened and lights so low one couldn’t tell the color of the floor, if it was wood, laminate, or anything of the sort. The only lights in the places emanated from the stage and the beer neon lights from the bar. The Bar was rather short and I only saw one beer on tap and a bunch of bottles behind the bar. The club could fit, maybe 500 people maybe 600? It wasn’t a small club by any means, in my opinion; it had an underground feeling to it, which made it perfect for metal. On the left side of the club facing the stage, there was a raised area with a metal railing and on the right side of the club, they had the same thing but, where there was a mini balcony that could fit 200 people easily, which bench seating and it could be accessed by a small staircase that was well above the crowd, that’s where I was, only I was at the railing of that balcony. The floor of the club was also interesting; there was a pit right in front of the stage, a huge drop off from the middle floor, again, perfect for metal. From the back to the stage, you had the bar, sound board, a few meters in front of the board, then the door angles downward (so the lighting and the sound guy can see the stage) the middle floor (where the majority of the people stand and watch), then the pit.
No, we’re not talking about the area just outside Jerusalem on the way to the Dead Sea. Desert is a local Israeli act that opened up the show. As I mentioned above, I went to a local show recently in Saint Paul and although there was glimpses of potential at that show, Desert actually impressed me. I can’t remember the last time I saw a local metal act that actually sang instead of the standard metal growl that I’ve become used to. This band actually had their shit together and sounded like they rehearsed instead of going through the motions. If I could compare Desert to any band, they would be a cross between Judas Priest and Sonata Arctica where the singer would hit specific notes, guitar players that knew what they were doing and a drummer that can do much more than double-bass kicks with the occasional fill in. The arrangements of the songs themselves are what really impressed me and just like the afore mentioned bands, the singer knew he could sing and kind of gave off the impression that he was the Geoff Tate type where his ego could be felt amongst the room. The band even had a key-tarist, something I definitely don’t see everyday and here in the U.S. it’s nearly laughable; but then again, it has worked so well for Sonata Arctica and Epica (on a few songs live). The most impressive moment was where the key-tarist and one of the guitar players played a solo together. I’ve only seen this once with Dream Theater and to see a local band do this was damn impressive. Desert is one of the better local acts I’ve seen in a long time. The small crowd that was there seemed to like them as well, I would be checking them out when I get home.
After Desert was finished, I kept wondering who they were since between songs they’d yell out something in Hebrew, so I would causally just start talking out loud with my wife, the only person I knew for sure aside from the ticket lady, that could understand me. Then some people next to me heard me, and began speaking to me in English. I was fortunate enough to get to know them before Moonspell came on. The club decided to play Patsy Cline on the P.A. and they were baffled by it as I was and I would tell them a story how in 1998, I saw Pantera and that they would do the same. We would go on to talk about concert war stories and of course, our distaste for Donald Trump. I was happy I left them with a good impression on Americans…or at least this American anyway. It felt like I was talking to any other metal head from anywhere else in the world. It was nice knowing that metal translates the same even in Israel.
Moonspell performed the “Wolfheart” and “Irreligious” albums as an anniversary show. Since I picked up “Extinct” and Moonspell has been on regular rotation since then, I’ve become very familiar with their catalog but I am still not as familiar with “Wolfheart.” But I was familiar with the latter. About 10 minutes before Moonspell came on, Barby just filled up! I’ve seen Moonspell many times now and it was going to be a treat to see so many people just to see them. The crowd went crazy for every song and when the band played “Opium” the pit just erupted. It was so nice to see a great band like Moonspell get the reaction they deserved and I was very grateful to witness it first hand. “Ruin and Misery” gets stuck in my head a lot and when I took out my phone to record the song, I didn’t know they were going to play that one. I was hoping they would play something else, even today…I have the song stuck in my head. As you can tell by the video clip, they had an extensive light show, something I had not seen but only on DVD. “Raven Claws” was awesome, the band brought a woman on stage with them, Diana, to sing the female part of the song, a local woman I presume and I felt like she nailed the part. It really energized the crowd, after all it was a fan favorite and it was one of their catchier songs with a hint of industrial sounds to it. “Herr Spiegelmann” is such an odd song to begin with, I usually skip it whenever it pops up. For the show, Fernando takes two mirrors and holds them up and reflects the light back to the crowd which I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone do before, I’m not sure what to think of that exactly. A darker song that until I watched them perform it live, is quite underrated for them. It’s artful and dark at the same time, which is what the band is known for anyway.
My favorite song of the night was “Medusalem.” The band brought Yossi Sassi formally from Orphaned Land on stage to perform the song and chants for Yossi began to drown out the P.A. as he took his double guitar out on stage. Fernando said they were very happy to play this song because it was about peace or the wish for peace in Israel. I was hoping for a more energetic response when the band played the song, after all, it gave me goose bumps when I realized they were going to play it.
It was such bliss seeing Moonspell in their element. Granted, I wish they had a different set list but if that were the only thing, then I would have seen the best Moonspell show yet. The crowd reacted the best way they could to a metal band, at a great venue in the Middle East. I had such a great time at this show, if you haven’t seen Moonspell I would recommend it and if you haven’t been to Israel, I would recommend booking a flight and stay at a room near the beach via Air BNB.
Desert - 7/10
Moon spell 9.5/10
The set list is as follows:
Wolfshade (A Werewolf Masquerade)
...of Dream and Drama (Midnight Ride)
For a Taste of Eternity
Ruin & Misery
Medusalem - (with Yossi Sassi)
Lua d’Inverno - (with Yossi Sassi)
An Erotic Alchemy
Full Moon Madness