Concert Review: Bacharach gives Israeli fans ‘the look of love’

Burt Bacharach in Binyamina earlier this week treated his middle aged audience to his vision of love.

Burt Bacharach 370 (photo credit: Yoav Vax)
Burt Bacharach 370
(photo credit: Yoav Vax)
Burt Bacharach’s is not an art couched in the real world. Bacharach is one of those artists who embrace the idea that deception is one of the key ingredients of all great art, and perhaps also a necessary prerequisite of the beautiful.
In Binyamina on Tuesday evening, the 84-yearold singer/songwriter treated a mostly middle aged Israeli audience to his vision of love – a beautiful lie – love like in fairy tales, as an idea, as it “should” be in a perfect world.
My girlfriend wondered aloud how many of the couples in the crowd were on the verge of divorce.
After all, they came to the show – from the real world – for a taste of the Bacharach magic.
Love is quite simple in this magical world: When you have it, everything is great and when it ends, well, it’s just a “crazy game that ends in tears,” as per the song, “A house is not a home.”
And of course, in order to work, the deception must be beautifully served.
The show Bacharach presents on his current 11- date tour is as finely constructed and paced as only a show by a performer with more than 50 years of on-stage experience can be. For young bands or budding musicians, it was a textbook example of how to construct a concert.
The members of the band are all flawless musicians.
The only disappointment was that instead of a full string section there was a synthesizer, topped by a single violinist, who was probably there just to round out the sound and give it warmth.
The singers ranged from very good to phenomenal.
And finally there was this special effect, when Bacharach played solo piano and sang the beginning of a song with what’s left of his vocal chords (not much), and then cued the rest of the band to fill in the texture and let his three singers take over. Twice it was used, and twice it nearly brought tears to my eyes.
Bacharach played a few new songs; most of the show was comprised of a parade of his hits, some played in medleys, some given a complete performance.
What this means is that even if you came to the concert without ever having heard the name Burt Bacharach in your life, you probably know at least 10 of his songs without being aware that they’re his.
In between numbers, Bacharach, in sneakers and a white tuxedo jacket, recounted his first visit to Israel in 1960 when he was accompanying Marlene Dietrich, and other stories from his rich career. Like the rest of the show, these interludes were entertaining, anecdotal and most importantly just long enough to lighten up the transition from song to song without outstaying their welcome.
Bacharach’s melodies are always infectious, his harmonies lush and his arrangements imaginative.
You could hear many humming along during the show, mostly with eyes closed and a dumb smile on their face.
And they were humming accurately, even though from a musical point of view the songs are rarely simple, with frequent changes of meter, unusual harmonic shifts and surprising detours in the melodic phrases.
In an interview conducted by Channel 2 on Sunday ahead of the show, Bacharach said that when he composes the melodies are often born in his head complete with the arrangements. This is not surprising considering his utter mastery as an orchestrator and the very tight connection in his music between pitch, contour and timbre.
On the long ride home I slowly came back to reality, remembering that love and life, to paraphrase Oscar Wilde, are never pure and rarely simple.
It is nice to know that sorcerers like Bacharach really exist: surrender to their illusion and in return they’ll grant you a few magic moments.