Concert Review: Rami Kleinstein in Englewood, New Jersey

Photo Credit: Shlomi Pinto

Have I mentioned how much I adore Rami Kleinstein?

Since the time I began learning about Israel’s music scene in the mid 1990s, Rami has been one of my all-time favorites. Before I knew Rami, I was a huge Billy Joel fan – so when someone suggested I look into “Israel’s Piano Man,” I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. And I was hooked.

But when I saw him perform live for the first time at in 1998 at Town Hall in New York City…whoa, I was blown away. The show was entitled “Rami and the Piano,” and that’s exactly what we saw. No band, no flashy production…just Rami and his talent.

His gorgeous piano playing was simply breathtaking, and I was thoroughly impressed by the fact that he could transform his complicated musical arrangements into incredible performances for solo piano.

I’ve seen Rami many times since with a full band, and loved every show. But in all this time, I hadn’t seen him do a repeat performance of “Rami and the Piano.” Until now.

Rami Kleinstein on stage (Photo credit: Josh Shron)

On Sunday, May 21, 2023, the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey presented a special community celebration in honor of Israel’s 75th birthday. The show featured the Keshet Chaim Dance Ensemble, young mentalist Nevo Abutbul, and Rami Kleinstein.

After the opening acts, it was time for Rami to take the stage. Out came a grand piano, and out came Rami. He sat down at the ivories, and the magic began.

It’s amazing – Rami could easily fill the halls as a classical pianist, but instead, he sings pop music. The richness of his piano expertise, coupled with his mellow vocals, create a phenomenal concert experience that must be seen. Interestingly, most audience members seemed to be unfamiliar with Rami and his music (as there were not many singing along). However, it was clear they were as enthralled by his talents as I was.

Rami sang many of his greatest hits, as you can see in the YouTube video above. His set list included:

  • Karov El Libech
  • Tza’ir LaNetzach
  • Tapuchim U’tmarim
  • Piano Man (Billy Joel)
  • Notza BaRuach
  • Kol Ma SheTirtzi
  • Matanot Ktanot
  • Bo
  • Inyan Shel Zman

He also sprinkled in plenty of personal anecdotes in English, often of his time growing up in nearby West Hempstead, New York. His engaging personality and time-tested hits truly endeared him to the audience. For two songs, “Notza BaRuach” and “Matanot Ktanot,” he invited members of Keshet Chaim (who have “adopted him,” he told us, every time he visits Los Angeles) back on stage to dance as he sang.

It’s one thing to watch one of your favorite artists perform their hits. It’s another when they transform those familiar hits into something entirely new and beautiful. Rami Kleinstein is the kind of versatile musician who can create a fresh experience in nearly any environment. I remain as impressed in 2023 as I was when I saw him for the very first time.

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