The Rolling Stones rock Tel Aviv

Mick Jagger showed off his Hebrew phrases and his band had Israel on its feet from ‘Start Me Up’ to ‘Satisfaction.’

The Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts stopped for selfies with fans during the band’s visit to Jerusalem’s Western Wall. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

The Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts stopped for selfies with fans during the band’s visit to Jerusalem’s Western Wall. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

Though we weren’t at The Rolling Stones concert, from what we heard it was truly a spectacular evening. And I’m not talking about what others reported from the event.

Our apartment happens to be in close enough vicinity to the Yarkon Park venue that we hear all the summer concerts just by opening our windows. Of course, it’s not the same experience. But we could still enjoy an amazing rendition of “Angie” and the crowd’s cheers of adoration as the song ended. We sang along to “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” from our sofa.

The Rolling Stones made their Israeli debut despite (or in spite of) heavy pressure from Pink Floyd members not to perform, and a suffocating heatwave that brought temperatures up to 42 degrees centigrade. And the 50,000 fans at the first-ever Tel Aviv concert (June 4) were treated to a two-hour set that began with “Start Me Up” and ended with “Satisfaction.”

The morning after’s social media feeds were brimming with snapshots from the concert as well as anecdotes and selfies.

My family’s Rolling Stones adventure actually began early in the morning on the day of the concert. As we live just 10 minutes’ walk from the grassy area at Yarkon Park where high-profile concerts take place, we often see the erecting and dismantling of the enormous stage before and after the shows.

We had gone out for a bike ride before the stifling humidity got the better of us but were bemused to find that unlike other concerts in the park, The Rolling Stones’ production area had spread to the bike paths and actually closed off access to the area. By contrast, a week earlier we could still circle the park and Justin Timberlake’s stage.

While final touches were being made at the concert grounds, The Rolling Stones took in some of the country’s top tourist sites including a visit to the Western Wall and the Caesarea archaeological ruins.

The concert’s 19 song line-up – including “It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll,” “Tumbling Dice,” “Paint it Black” and “Midnight Rambler” – rocked Tel Aviv.

While nearly every visiting artist throws out a few Hebrew nuggets at local concerts, Mick Jagger had 12 audience-friendly phrases at the ready. He started with “erev tov Tel Aviv”(good evening Tel Aviv), wished everyone a happy holiday with “chag Shavuot sameach, Yisrael” (Happy Shavuot, Israel), said his band’s name in Hebrew (HaAvanim Hamitgalgalot), complimented the crowd with “atem kahal meturaf” (“you’re a crazy audience”), and ended with layla tov ve’shalom Tel Aviv (“goodnight and goodbye Tel Aviv”), among others.

The legendary British band gave Israeli music fans a summer concert to remember. And the summer has just begun. 

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About Viva Sarah Press

Viva Sarah Press is an associate editor and writer at ISRAEL21c. She has extensive experience in reporting/editing in the print, online and broadcast fields. Her work has been published by international media outlets including Israel Television, CNN, Reuters, The Jerusalem Post and Time Out.
  • Cpt_Justice

    Oh, Roger Waters should just go DIAF! I always knew the Rolling Stones were cool, but it’s nice to have my opinion validated!