Rady JCC's Tarbut Festival of Jewish Culture 2016, West End Cultural Centre, David Broza Concert, November 13, 2016
Tarbut is amazing – we have the opportunity to hear artists who can fill a stadium perform in intimate settings. Israeli superstar David Broza sat alone on the West End Cultural Centre stage and charmed and moved an adoring audience.
There is nothing flashy about Broza. He comes on stage, with his huge smile, in a plain black Tshirt and black jeans, with one well-worn acoustic guitar, and sings heartfelt songs in a rough-edged, well-worn, expressive voice. Between songs, he tells long, engaging stories about his travels and his collaborations with poets. He reminisces, recites gentle poetry, and gives detailed translations of his songs – most of them. “If I don’t explain the song,” he said, “just assume it’s about love.”
Nothing flashy about Broza, except his incredible guitar playing. The speed, the range, the beauty – I wish I could just say, “Catch him on youtube,” but his live solo performance held more power than anything I’ve found there.
Most appealing to me were his flamenco influenced pieces. They are emotional and raw, delicate and fierce, while played with dazzling technique. It was hard to believe that it was just one voice and one guitar making all those fireworks. Broza spent his teen years in Spain, then returned there as a young man to learn, and the colours of Spain run throughout his music. He sang in Hebrew and in Spanish, in each case opening and closing the songs with fluid, sumptuous flamenco guitar.
Broza has collaborated with American poets as well as Spanish and Israeli writers, and he sang one fascinating English text. Then he switched to the blues – and of course he’s a skillful, dramatic blues player too. His first blues number was, I guess, satirical, weaving together tons of clichés. He followed with a blues in Hebrew about Abraham in the desert.
Broza began as a folk/rock performer, and he played lots of his hits. (He played lots of music -- two hours without an intermission.) There were many fans in the crowd who applauded after the first chords of a song, and sang along – and the rest of us were welcomed to sing along on many wordless refrains. He concluded with a show-stopping performance of the love song Mitachat Lashamayim. As he briefly left the stage the fans began to sing their encore requests. He sang a new song: “East Jerusalem, West Jerusalem, Shalom, Salaam.” The final song of the evening was one of his first, the song from 1977 Yiyeh Tov – It Will Be Good. Every few years, he told us, the lyricist Yonatan Geffen sends him a new verse. Broza is still singing his songs of hope and peace, and encouraging us all to sing along.