NIFI supporter, John Aiken, takes us on his trip to Dublin to hear Israeli rock veterans, Orphaned Land
When it was announced that Israeli band Orphaned Land would play Dublin on November 15th I thought this is one band I don’t want to miss. I had read about them some years back in ‘Israel Today’ magazine and being a bit of a Rock fan had listened to them on the Internet. Over time their music grew on me, mixing a blend of oriental, folk and progressive metal.
What is unique about this band is that although they are all Jewish, they have a large following of Muslims as well as Jews, and fans across Europe. Although they are secular, quite a few of their songs and lyrics have Biblical themes and stories, adding interest to their music.
They play sold out shows in Turkey frequently, despite relations in the two countries cooling in recent years.
The day was duly booked off work and by mid-afternoon my friend in music Luke and I were on our way to Dublin.
After finding a parking spot close to the venue at Eden Quay we went about trying to find a middle eastern restaurant but to no avail, making do with a lovely Thai restaurant instead.
Being a Friday night, the town was busy and there appeared to be a good crowd gathering at the music hall despite being the beginning of Shabbat for the Jewish community.
I got speaking to a Portuguese guy who said he loved the music of Orphaned Land. I think the reason they have such a wide and varied appeal is not only their great musicianship and style but also the composition of their songs which are often themed on brotherly love and unity in the seed of Abraham.
The first two support bands were French with the main support act coming from a Palestinian band called Khalas: Arabic Rock Orchestra. After their set which warmed up the crowd nicely, I was fortunate enough to get speaking to their lead singer and bass player and I congratulated and encouraged them on such a good performance.
The main act, Orphaned Land finally took the stage to much cheering and applause. By this time the venue was packed with about 200 people of all tribes, tongues and nations. Although a small compact crowd (they play to thousands in Israel and Turkey) the atmosphere was electric as they soared into the first song with energy and prowess to the delight of the euphoric crowd.
The music for the next hour and a half was rich and powerful, igniting an aura of brotherly love and unity which at times was jovial with much dancing and singing by the enthusiastic crowd who seemed to know all the lyrics. Intermittently the Arab and French musicians were invited back on stage to play alongside their Jewish brothers. Between songs the lead singer Kobi talked about how they had been on a tour bus for the past two months with their Muslim brothers and if they can get on with each other in such close quarters, why can’t the politicians back home!
This was the last date of a long European tour, so the gig came to a close with all bands and road crew members taking the stage collectively to play enchanting middle eastern melodies and rhythms, passing the mic around each singer. If you hadn’t known any better, you’d have thought you were in a back-street café in Jerusalem or Tel-Aviv, not a main street Bar in Dublin! The only thing missing was the smell of Falafel and Turkish coffee wafting through the air.
After the show, I was able to get speaking to some of the band members at the merchandise table where photographs and autographs were keenly sought by the adoring fans. I thanked and encouraged both the members of Orphaned Land and Khalas for making the effort to come to Ireland and congratulated them on providing a wonderful evening of uplifting oriental music . I think they were touched and surprised by the enthusiasm of the fans and promised they would be back next year.
The night came to a close and after chatting a little more with like-minded fans we bid farewell as the band packed up to head back home to Israel for a well-earned month long break before embarking on their next tour to South America later this year.
We arrived back home in Belfast at 2.30am, tired but thoroughly satisfied and thankful at catching a great gig with one of Israel’s finest.