Live: Matisyahu Evades Beard Questions at Kravis Center, December 29

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Matisyahu With Adam Weinberg on acoustic guitar Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, West Palm Beach Thursday, December 29, 2011 Check out the slideshow here.

Better than: Hanging out at your university's Hillel on a chilly Thursday evening.

It's easy to sum up last night's intimate Matisyahu show at West Palm's Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in one word: underwhelming.

Billed as an acoustic show with the Hasidic (ex? -- we're still not sure) Jewish hip-hop and reggae artist with an attached question-and-answer session, the concert was ideally a platform for fans to reach out and create a discussion with Matisyahu on topics of music, spirituality, and how the two intertwine.

Unsurprisingly to us, given his pithy attitude of late, that discussion never happened, and the questions fans submitted before the show were pushed to the wayside.

"We advertised this as a Q&A," Matisyahu said after coming back on the stage for his encore. "But I've really not been in the mood to answer questions. I'll answer two or three tops, so make them count."

Audience members ran to the front of the concert hall, but one kid hopped up onstage before the rest, put his arm around the singer, and asked the question that was on everyone's mind.

"You recently shaved your beard, and I'm a fan no matter what," he said. "But what inspired you to do that?"

Instead of answering, Matisyahu told the kid to go to RollingStone.com to watch an interview he gave in which he talked about his decision to shave. Needless to say, it was kind of an awkward moment.

The next two questions were also met with half-assed answers. And it seemed like the only point of real honesty came with the last question, when a young man asked the rapper about the difficulties of being Jewish and in the music industry.

It also seemed as if Matisyahu wanted to talk about his chopped-off locks on his own terms.

"I want to talk about my beard for a minute," the rapper said in-between songs. "I really wasn't planning on telling anybody; I was just going to show up at a show one night. No one was going to recognize me."

But after reading a tweet from a fan (something he "has since stopped doing") reminding him of "what it's all about," he went into his bathroom armed with an iPhone and snapped the photos.

And that was it. End of discussion.

Two chairs, two bottles of water, a mic, and a guitar sat on the stage as the lights dimmed. The hushed talk of the sold-out crowd turned into a roar as Matisyahu -- wearing a pair of rather obnoxious sunglasses -- and South Florida native Adam Weinberg walked onstage. The two launched into a cover of Bob Marley's "Running Away," setting the concert off at an easy pace. Weinberg's guitar skills remained impressive throughout the show, outshining Matisyahu's shaky falsetto on more than one occasion. The rapper stuck to mostly older material throughout the night, skipping fan favorites like "Time of Your Song" and "King Without a Crown." The audience's shouts for specific songs were met by a cold response from the rapper at one point.

"I heard you the first few times," he said as calls for "One Day" and "King Without a Crown" rained down from the rafters. "You shouting probably won't make us play sooner."

All in all, the show plodded along with adequate mediocrity, with Matisyahu's lavish beatboxing and Weinberg's guitar as the night's high points. Matisyahu exited the stage to a standing ovation, but many fans drove away that night with a thirst for songs that went unsung and minds full of questions still burning.

Critic's Notebook:

Crowd: Surprisingly a lot of gray heads in the audience -- more than a few walkers were spotted. Younger couples and groups of college students filled the sold-out concert hall.

Overheard: In the thickest New York accent you can possibly imagine, woman one: "Have you ever heard of this guy?" Woman two: "We're related! He's a local boy, grew up in White Plains. He shaved his beard, ya know." Woman one: "Oh my."

Set list:

Running Away
Darkness Into Light
Thunder Obstacles
Dispatch the Troops
Ancient Lullaby
Open the Gates
So High So Low


One Day (Bob Marley's "No Woman No Cry")

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