Music fans in Israel have never seen such a hot summer concert lineup. Whereas years past have served up mostly has-been international acts with a few contemporary stars, the next few months are about to witness an unprecedented number of A-listers on Israeli stages.

Israel is undoubtedly on the international music touring lists: Justin Timberlake, Neil Young, The Rolling Stones, Lana Del Rey, Prodigy, Soundgarden, Paul Anka, Chicane, Yanni, Backstreet Boys, Kansas, Passenger and Gogol Bordello will all stop by for some hummus and falafel.

“Israel’s population is as big as some of the smaller European countries. There’s no difference between us when it comes to music. We have an audience and there’s money to be made here,” Benny Dudkevitch, a veteran Israel Radio editor and popular music historian, tells ISRAEL21c.

The shows are not cheap. The Rolling Stones concert has the priciest tickets, ranging from NIS 700-NIS 2,800. Tickets for most of the concerts cost in the range of NIS 400. But that hasn’t stopped music fans from snapping up tickets.

The Backstreet Boys, the 1990s American boy band, even added a second and third concert after all 8,000 tickets to its first performance sold out within two hours. The Boys will be in Ra’anana on July 29-31.

Cirque duSoleil returns for the second summer.
Cirque duSoleil returns for the second summer.

“Musicians need the money in order to sell their art. It’s all about their art. Most of them are not interested in politics and aren’t afraid to add Israel to their touring lineup,” says Dudkevitch. “As long as they know they can sell tickets here, they’ll come to Israel.”

A summer of music


Summer 2014’s rock, pop and trance gigs keep expanding.

The big-name season openers were American pop hero Justin Timberlake (May 28) and British electronic music pioneers The Prodigy (May 29).

Coming up are veteran rock gods The Rolling Stones (June 4), Greek composer and pianist Yanni (June 4), British folk-pop Passenger (June 10), alternative rock bands the Pixies and The Hives (June 17), grunge Soundgarden and gypsy-punk Gogol Bordello (June 18), American singer/songwriter M. Ward (June 25), space rockers Gong (July 3), Hugh Laurie Blues (July 7), American rockers Brian Jonestown Massacre (July 15), Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Neil Young and Crazy Horse (July 17), Canadian crooner Paul Anka (July 24), the Backstreet Boys (July 29-30), prig-rock veteran Kansas (August 5), folk rockers America (August 7), indie rockers Kurt Vile and the Violators (August 12), CeeLo Green(August 19), and American singer-songwriter Lana Del Rey (August 20).

Neil Young and Crazyhorse to perform July 17. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Neil Young and Crazyhorse to perform July 17. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

As always, the annual Israel Festival will also welcome a slew of international artists to Israel this summer. Leading classical choirs and musicians including the likes of Hortus Musicus Ensemble (May 31) and top jazz musicians such as Paolo Fresu Devil Quartet (June 13) will cool fans off in the country’s auditoriums.

Something for everyone

And that’s before you count the trance stars heading to Israeli shores. The Blu4Dance event in Eilat (July 3-5) includes celebrity deejays Markus Schulz, Sebastian Ingrosso, Chicane and Alvaro.

Breathtaking acrobatics group Cirque De Soleil will perform 10 shows in August – the Canadian company’s second long-performance series in Tel Aviv.

Whereas it took a lot of convincing on the part of Israeli producers to bring the circus troupe to Israel for its debut last summer, the super successful run in 2013 – 100,000 Israelis bought tickets — made a return visit much easier to organize, says Shuki Weiss, one of Israel’s biggest production promoters.  

Lana Del Rey makes her Israeli debut in August.
Lana Del Rey makes her Israeli debut in August.

“We are indeed witnessing a truly amazing summer,” Weiss tells ISRAEL21c. “We don’t take it for granted that The Rolling Stones, Neil Young, Pixies, Soundgarden and Cirque De Soleil would all come together in one season. It seems like there’s a demand from the public and that’s very encouraging. Here’s wishing the Israeli audience many seasons like this one.”