70000 TONS 2017 HIGHLIGHT : ORPHANED LAND
When people ask me to pick a favourite band, I can never answer truthfully because there are so many that I adore. However, if I think about it really hard, there is one that stands slightly above the rest: Orphaned Land. It's important to mention that until this cruise, I had NEVER seen Orphaned Land live, ever. They are 70000 Tons vets, this year being their 3rd time, but I was not on either of their previous voyages, so when they were announced, I shed a few actual tears. So while I don't want this write-up to sound biased, it will be, a little.
Their first set was scheduled for the Saturday afternoon at Alhambra Theatre. From the center of the front row, I stared blankly as minutes ticked by. Seeing their banner go up gave me shivers. They use the song "The Holy Land of Kna'an" as an intro, and when it started, I felt my eyes well up with tears; the emotion was strong, and the excitement rose in the entire crowd as well. They opened with "All Is One", a perfect rally call on a ship hosting metalheads of 74 different nationalities. Songs such as "Ocean Land", "Olat Ha'tamid", "Kiss of Babylon", "Simple Man", and "Norra El Norra" were on the menu as well, amongst others. They had a lovely belly dancer join them on stage during "Sapari" and again towards the end of their set, a very appropriate touch for the pioneers of Oriental metal. While the lighting wasn't the best at Alhambra, it gave the entire show a somewhat intimate feel. Was it everything I hoped for? You bet! Could I wait patiently until their second set? Hell no! But at least there was a scheduled meet and greet with the band to tide me over.
Unfortunately for me, Orphaned Land was hosting their meet and greet at the same time as Angra was playing the pool deck stage. As I sat in the Viking Crown Lounge waiting for the band to arrive, I could hear the Brazilian power metal band playing "Black Hearted Soul" and could see their light show from the window facing the back of the stage. Ouch, my heart. But on this cruise, you have to learn to make sacrifices, and I had to swallow this one. As it turns out, my hard choice was rewarded, because the guys were so very lovely.
Orphaned Land shared their meet and greet space with Stam1na, which worked out wonderfully for me as I was eager to meet both. I am really not fond of meet and greets in general, but the guys in Orphaned Land made it painless. They're such beautiful souls, and as we chatted and exchanged greetings and thank yous (and as I pushed my gold Sahara vinyl onto all of them to sign with a gold Sharpie for the sake of making it an art piece for my house, even though 3 of the members had no part in it) I couldn't help but feel lucky to be given a moment to share with them. Unbeknownst to me, I would run into them many times subsequently that weekend. But you never forget your first time, right?
Orphaned Land's second set was a well-timed 13:15 pool deck stage set on the Sunday. Talk about taking us to church! Seeing the band play under a blue sky in the open air at sea was really phenomenal. They played the same set as the previous show, but it's such a well-curated track list that I could watch it again 10 times. The sun came up from over the roof of the stage and illuminated crowd and band right as they started playing "Ornaments of Gold", their final song. It was a perfectly-timed coincidence, leaving the entire pool deck bathed in light as the band exited the stage.
Orphaned Land has such a beautiful, positive energy, and singer Kobi Farhi has, despite what he says, an almost holy presence on stage. I am ecstatic and grateful to have finally had the chance to experience their live show in person. While they sing about such serious matters, they truly are bringers of light in dark times, and we need music like theirs and people like them to remind us that we are, in fact, all one.
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