Soundwaves Series at the Hard Rock, Sept. 15

Wearing a white T-shirt and blue jeans, Matisyahu walked through the crowd and to the stage unnoticed—many fans were still unaware of his new lighter-colored hair and clean-shaven appearance since he shed his “Hasidic reggae superstar” label in 2011. This incarnation of Matisyahu (the musician has always experimented with different sonic styles) put on a good—not great—show, one that was nothing like the last three times I saw him.

This rocker seemed a bit more relaxed. At one point, he even crowd-surfed. There was a slight edginess and a faster tempo to the old songs, which took away some of their authenticity. His earlier music sang out with such conviction; that magic was not present at this show. Supported by the Dub Trio—made up of bassist Stu Brooks, guitarist/keyboardist DP Holmes and Joe Tomino on drums—the roughly hourlong set was a mix of new (“Crossroads” and “Sunshine”) and old (such as “Jerusalem”). And his beat-boxing was as electrifying as ever.

At the end, Matisyahu invited fans to climb onto the stage during “One Day.” Echoing his entrance, Matisyahu snuck off the crowded stage and back into obscurity while his fans remained taking pictures. ★★★☆☆

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Mary J. Blige


Mary J. Blige

“No disrespect to the men, but this show is for all the ladies!” Mary J. Blige shouted from behind her red-rimmed shades that matched her red playsuit as the sea of women roared their approval. In a stop on her Liberation Tour—which also featured Melanie Fiona and the super-funky return of D’Angelo from a decadelong hiatus—the nine-time Grammy winner had every feminine voice (and even some masculine ones) singing along to her endless catalog of “I’m strong and don’t need your tired ass” tunes that have defined her career.