Review: Shwekey in Paris

Recently I attended a Yaakov Shwekey concert in Paris. Shwekey, a New Jersey-based legend of the Hassidic pop world, is perhaps best known for his rendition of Rachem - which became so popular it even inspired the "tribute" song: "I'm so sick of Rachem".


I own several Shwekey albums and would class myself as a fan of his voice and his music. Yet in the flesh, he was desperately uninspiring. On his thirteenth annual visit to the French capital, his presentation tended towards the kitsch and he enjoyed little rapport with the crowd. In Israel he has played to (gender-segregated) football stadiums such as the Teddy and the Nokia, so perhaps the mixed-seating of the smaller and largely Sephardi crowd at the Casino de Paris failed to inspire him too.



To be honest, it felt like a glorified bar-mitzvah party, resplendent with bad acoustics, a curiously uncharismatic lead singer backed by a noisome orchestra and bad lighting. His introductions to his songs were unconvincing, and I don't think my allergic reaction to his spiel can be wholly put down to our ideological differences. I was there to witness his magic, perhaps even to learn one or two of his tricks, but left dispirited, disillusioned and disappointed.