Live Review: mosh ben ari

4 April 2012 | 2:45 pm | Cassandra Fumi

“Blah blah, threw up there, so-and-so 'hooked up' down that alleyway.” Amongst trivial yet relevant pre-gig banter, recognisably long dreadlocks can be seen up ahead. The dreadlocks belong to Israel's singer/songwriter Mosh Ben Ari. He softly chats, hands loosely resting in the pockets of a three-piece suit. It's the sleepy end of Acland Street and he is due on stage in 15 minutes; we reduce our pace.

The last time Ari was in Australia was in 2003, as the lead singer of Sheva. This is the first time he has toured as a solo artist, even though he has released four albums under this guise. It's obvious the dressed-up crowd has felt this nine-year absence.

Ari is heard before he is seen. Covered in darkness, the throng is silent. The guitar begins. Once the stage is fully lit, we observe Ari's eyes are firmly closed. Lovers in front have their arms wrapped around each other and the majority of crowd members have opted to clutch iPhones rather than beers – they are a snap-happy bunch. On stage Ari is accompanied by three musicians, although ordinarily he performs with a 12-piece ensemble. “We are small people on stage,” he says shyly, “so let's see what can happen”. He appears introverted, rarely looking at the audience and often turning his head to wipe a long dreadlock off his face.

His band, too, is made up of a mismatch of characters; the drummer plays violently and seems to be channelling Led Zeppelin's John Bonham. He reaches a crescendo when his cymbal is bashed so hard that a stagehand has to come up and fix it (much to the drummer's delight). The bassist laughs and interacts easily with the crowd, while the bongo player seems to be struggling with the vocal mix with one finger permanently in his ear, coupled with a pained expression. Perhaps his thick beanie is muffling the sound (the beanie may be in response to the air-con, which is definitely on).

Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter

Ari sings in Hebrew, which the majority of these punters also speak. Each song is coupled with a faint echo from this captivated audience. Two girls break apart from the crowd to dance as space is needed for their fluid routine, which would be more aptly performed barefoot at a music festival. There's a concern that the Prince Bandroom is the wrong venue choice, however Ari's unique groovy sound demonstrates what music is capable of: you certainly don't need to understand a love song to know it's a love song. Ari's performance, above all else, proves this. Language has become irrelevant.