On my drive to New York City to attend Miri Mesika’s concert at Symphony Space, as I sat in way-too-much traffic to enter the Lincoln Tunnel, I passed the time (and prepped for the show) by listening to an incredible Spotify playlist of Miri’s music compiled by my friend Jay.
I’ve always been a big fan, but can’t remember the last time I sat through 75+ minutes of nothing but Miri.
These are amazing songs, I thought to myself…but Miri’s songs all sound so serious! I couldn’t remember the last “light” Miri Mesika song since “November” – and that was released back in 2005!
Come to think of it, I couldn’t remember the last time I saw Miri Mesika crack a smile in a photo. She’s a fantastic singer, but is this really her public persona? I wondered what to expect during the concert.
(Mind you, I haven’t watched much of her television work. Miri’s been a judge on “Kochav Nolad” and “The Voice Israel”, and most recently, she was the “mediator” between Aviv Gefen and Eyal Golan on “Aviv or Eyal” this past year. She may, indeed, have quite a playful side…but if so, it’s not evident from her music.)
I’m pleased to say I was wrong about Miri.
Miri’s Playful Personality
Last night’s concert put her extraordinary talent on full display. Not only her amazing vocal abilities, but also her warm personality and sense of humor. She spoke of the challenges of kicking off a US tour right after the Jewish holidays (due to her dress no longer fitting quite right), told us about her unique experiences as a mother of school-aged children, and expressed her sheer giddiness at singing on-stage with her special guest for the evening (more on that later). When an audience member called out her admiration for Miri’s high-heeled shoes, Miri promised that she’s need to take them off later in the show…and so she did, prancing around the stage barefoot for the last few numbers.
So now that we know that Miri Mesika is charming and fun, let’s talk about her music.
All the Hits
She performed all of the hits you’d expect, including Ba’ah Eilechem, Af Achat, Tipa Tipa, Kolot Halev, Shir L’shira, the aforementioned November, Achshav Ata Chozer B’chazara, and of course, her first big hit, L’sham. Along with rapping assistance from one of her guitarists, she included a cool hip-hop version of Melech. She sang a number of songs in Arabic, a focus of her music in recent months. She covered Meir Banai’s Sha’ar Harachamim, to the delight of the audience.
And like so many Israelis who perform in New York, perhaps hoping to be discovered by some mega music producer who may have stumbled into the auditorium, she included an English song: My Man from “Funny Girl”, originally made famous by Barbra Streisand. That’s ok. Despite hints of an Israeli accent here and there, she performed it well, and it was a welcome surprise for the audience who hung on every note.
But Wait…There’s More!
Her encore? Miri was genuinely thrilled to bring a special guest to the stage: David Broza! Broza borrowed a guitar from one of the musicians, and he and Miri delighted the audience with a duet of HaIsha SheIti. David’s guitar playing was mesmerizing as usual, and he and Miri sounded great together. I later learned that his appearance was not planned until shortly before showtime, and that Miri was as excited as anyone to welcome David to the stage. Afterwards, Miri concluded her performance with a moving performance of Shir Tikva, and left the stage to a standing ovation.
If you weren’t a Miri Mesika fan before the concert, you certainly were when you left.
Vocally, Miri’s performance was extremely impressive throughout. Early in the concert, I thought to myself that each number is a showstopper, with Miri reaching for the heavens during each song. I knew Miri could sing…but could she sustain that same energy throughout an entire two-hour performance? Apparently so. Miri sounded fantastic from the first song to the last. Her powerful, soulful voice showed no signs of wear, even after dozens of showstoppers.
Rubbing Elbows with the Stars
Backstage after the show, I had the opportunity to say hello to our old friend David Broza (who was my first-ever interview for The Israel Hour back in 1994), and also got to meet a few members of the Broadway cast of “The Band’s Visit”. Miri had gone to see their show the night before, so a number of cast members returned the favor. I had the chance to chat with Sasson Gabai, the latest Israeli to take his place in a lead role on Broadway, as well as with Ari’el Stachel, who won the 2018 Tony award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical. How cool is that?
Finally, I had the opportunity to meet the star of the evening, Miri Mesika herself. A class-act and a talented performer in every sense of the word.
I’ve always wanted to see Miri Mesika in concert, but never had the opportunity until last night. If you know anything about Miri’s music and have the opportunity…go. I promise you’ll leave very happy.