Matisyahu: The King Without a Crown Comes to Manila for One Reggae-Filled Night

Graphics by Lance Tongol
Photos by Leo Avendaño
Written by Christian Viñas

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When in Manila witnessed reggae in its raw form as Grammy-nominated reggae artist Matisyahu (or Matthew Paul Miller) recently performed in the Philippines last September 23, promoting their 6th studio album, Undercurrent. It is with great pleasure welcoming Matisyahu here for the first time and having the chance to witness it, too.

For me, the album is about finding and celebrating what each person goes through—self-satisfaction in a chosen profession, reaching new heights far beyond your wildest dreams, and being on the go. Hence the album title. Born of Jew descent, Matisyahu himself experienced many ups and downs in his life. Throughout his career, he has been called a lot—an unorthodox performer, a “gift of God” (in which his name is derived from) to reggae, ‘The Most Intriguing Reggae Artist in the World’, and even a ‘Most Lovable Oddball’ award was given to him. But upon witnessing his set last Saturday night at SM Skydome, I can only sum up one word about him: “phenomenal”

Here are the pictures that captured that ‘phenomenal’ night with a sensational reggae superstar:

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ALSO READ: Matisyahu Live in Manila: An Unorthodox Artist

The first 300 VIP ticket buyers got a sound check pass and entered the venue before the event began. The front acts played reggae music familiar to the event-goers, which got the crowd started raving.

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MatisyahuLiveInManila 26Fans pose for the camera as they wait for Matisyahu to come on stage.  

MatisyahuLiveInManila 24Local artists, such as Boy2 Quizon, were present to witness #MatisyahuLiveInManila

MatisyahuLiveInManila 6Big Yuki on keyboards was the first to enter the stage

Matisyahu finally enters the stage. Before starting, he thanked the crowd for attending and said it was a long time coming here in the Philippines. Sporting a laid-back white sweater, he sang the first song, a crowd favorite—”Sunshine”—from his studio album Spark Seeker.

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Matisyahu further soothed the crowd with songs such as “Time of Your Song”, “Warrior”, “Forest of Faith”. Singing “Live Like a Warrior” while the crowd followed with the verses, Matisyahu showed his beatboxing prowess.

MatisyahuLiveInManila 2Stu Brooks on bass reppin‘ a Pilipinas Cap!

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He knows the verses of these songs and even apologized to the fans when the drummer made a slight mistake and asked to play the song from the start so the crowd can sing along better. This only reminds me of the kind of artist Matisyahu is.

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After a brief break and as the lights dimmed, we all thought that it was the end of the night. Until he did a costume change. As he re-entered, he assured the fans, “No one’s going home tonight. We will sing for you till you fall asleep.”

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Now sporting a black, cut-up shirt, he sang “Jerusalem” and “Youth”. Such songs like “Aish Tamid”, and the new ones like “Shade from The Sun” “Step Out Into The Light” from the album Undercurrent and, lastly, “Built To Survive”,  makes you want to Google the songs and read the lyrics, understand how and where he got those lessons, and be amazed as to how he professed it to the listener.

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A people person, Matisyahu also takes time to introduce his bandmates and lets them showcase their talents.

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And just when we thought the show was over, he again re-entered the stage with a surprise! He called Bugoy for one last song, the one everyone was waiting for.

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One can argue that the last song, One Day, has been made popular in the Philippines because of a Filipino artist, Bugoy Drilon. But to fans and newcomers alike, seeing him and performing alongside Matisyahu exhibited the camaraderie these singers have and the thing they have in common—their love for music.

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The two sang “One Day” simultaneously and ended it with “No Woman No Cry” as their finale song.

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A reggae-filled night indeed, but we wished it could’ve been longer. Here’s to wishing Matisyahu will be back in the Philippines sometime soon, one day…