Mercury Rev Comes to Tel Aviv
On Wednesday night, before the beginning of the Mercury Rev show scheduled at the Tel Aviv Museum, frontman and guitarist Jonathan Donahue was smiling.
Speaking to the packed crowd, Donahue said that he was delighted to be back in Israel, as was Grasshopper, the guitarist and co-founder of the band, Sean Mackowiak.
The smile did not leave his face for the next hour and a quarter, while the band delivered acoustic performance for opening Tel Aviv’s Piano Festival.
Different from other shows
The fifth appearance of the band in the country, called Whisper and Strum, was different from any of the previous shows they have done in Israel, or anywhere else for that matter.
Donahue asserted that they had not had the chance of playing the songs the way they had come to them originally since 1998.
He was recalling the way the band had created their music in the early 90s in an attic in upstate New York.
The band opened the show with a song from Deserter’s Song called ‘The Funny Bird’, which had been their breakthrough album in 1998.
They played an eclectic and enchanting mix of covers and their own songs, as they reflected the quiet and thin music of the past of Mercury Rev.
Donahue also sang the song ‘Tonight it Shows’ from the band’s album named Bitter Sweet: Alternative Love Songs that they had released back in 2000.
Grasshopper accompanied the frontman’s angel-like voice on the harmonica, as well as a jazzy trumpet solo, which was the first one of the three they played in the show.
Then came a song from See You on the Other Side, the album released by the band in 1995, which was called ‘Peaceful Night’.
Donahue said that the band had been born to do this particular song. They then went back to the Deserter’s Songs once more and opted to sing Hudson Line.
The frontman then continued to trace the journey of the band from some very low and dark periods to when they finally hit global recognition between a few covers.
Donahue covered the ‘Lover Yer Brain’ song of the band called Flaming Lips, which he had been a part of in the 1990s and then they segued into ‘Pavement’s Here’.
The band then moved onto the three of their biggest songs, all of which belong to the Deserter’s Songs album. These were ‘Opus 40’, ‘Holes’ and ‘Goddess on a Hiway’.
The band’s frontman said that the Brit Pop of the 90s comprised of snappy and short songs and bands like Blur and Oasis had been competing against each other.
In contrast, he claimed that Mercury Rev focused on longer songs that lasted seven minutes and had oboes, flutes, sopranos and plenty more.
While saying that, the singer was giving the crowd a big smile and they were also smiling back as the band had delivered a rather memorable performance.