Alicia Keys in Tel Aviv: This girl is on fire

Keys fills Nokia Arena with strong vocals, outpouring of peace and love.

Alicia Keys in Tel Aviv370 (photo credit: LAHAV HARKOV)
Alicia Keys in Tel Aviv370
(photo credit: LAHAV HARKOV)
Alicia Keys set Tel Aviv on fire Thursday night with her powerful, soulful voice and message of peace and love, BDS movement be damned.
The R&B 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.”
Alicia Keys in Tel Aviv (Lahav Harkov)Alicia Keys in Tel Aviv (Lahav Harkov)
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.
Keys’ second special guest was her adorable two-yearold son Egypt.
“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 ballads.
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 Worth.”
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 from.
Don’t let anyone hold us back or push us down.”
Take that, BDS. Alicia Keys set Tel Aviv on fire, and no one could hold her back.