Alicia Keys set Tel Aviv on fire Thursday night with her powerful, soulful voice
and message of peace and love, BDS movement be damned.
singer-songwriter and pianist was plagued with petitions to stay away from
Israel, including one from Nobel laureate Alice Walker, who seems to make it her
personal mission to propagate the lie that Israel is an apartheid state. Keys
gracefully rejected calls to boycott over a month ago, telling The New York
Times: “I look forward to my first visit to Israel. Music is a universal
language that is meant to unify audiences in peace and love, and that is the
spirit of our show.”
That message came through strongly, especially when
she invited two special guests to the stage.
Early in the show, in the
middle of ‘Fallin’,” the hit that made her famous, she invited Israeli
world-music powerhouse Idan Raichel to the stage to join her on her shiny black
grand piano, saying that music brings people together.
The audience sang
along to every word of Raichel’s best-known song “Mima’amakim” (“From the
Depths”), as Keys nodded her head in time to the music. The crowd continued
singing to accompany the American singer on “Fallin’” as Raichel tickled the
Keys’ second special guest was her adorable two-yearold son
“What should we do know?” she asked the curlyhaired boy, grinning
as he sat down next to her on the piano bench.
“Let’s sing!” he responded
into the microphone.
Keys dedicated her song “No One” to her son, saying
it was about the most important things in life.
Egypt ran around the
stage, jumping and waving his arms as his mother belted out “no one can get in
the way of how I feel for you.”
Like any singer visiting Israel, Keys
knew to address the crowd in Hebrew, starting with “ma koreh, Tel Aviv?” (What’s
happening, Tel Aviv?) after her opening song, “Karma,” and a “shalom, Tel Aviv”
to sign off.
It’s a good thing Keys was performing in Tel Aviv and not
the more religious Jerusalem, as she spent most of the show in a pair of
high-waisted black leggings and a completely transparent top with a
strategically-placed sparkly black bra that made Sarah Netanyahu’s infamous
sheer dress seem prudish.
She also had a group of four male backup
dancers that distracted from Keys, who can more than hold her own on stage, and
seemed a bit silly dancefighting and breakdancing as she sang her powerful
However, one dancer was put to good use as Keys reenacted her
“You Don’t Know My Name” music video, in which she plays a waitress who asks out
a regular at the restaurant.
“I’m the waitress with the braids. Well, I
used to have braids,” she joked, referring to her Victoria Beckhamesque bob as
she spoke into a smartphone.
The dancers also wore James Bond-style
tuxedoes for a mash-up between her Bond theme song “Another Way to Die,”
originally performed with rocker Jack White, and her neo-soul ballad “A Woman’s
Still, Keys stood out most on her own, whether it was belting out
“Girl on Fire,” the song that gave her tour its name, or crooning her love song
to her home town, “Empire State of Mind.”
Keys ended the song with her
smash-hit New York anthem, taking the state in a slinky, sparkling red gown and
raising the whole audience.
“This song is about hopes and dreams,” she
said. “We all have the same hopes and dreams. It doesn’t matter where you come
Don’t let anyone hold us back or push us down.”
BDS. Alicia Keys set Tel Aviv on fire, and no one could hold her back.