neil sedaka 311.
(photo credit: PR)
I was in a terrible mood upon arrival at the Nokia Arena on Saturday night, 20 minutes into Neil Sedaka’s performance.
Despite leaving plenty of time to get to Tel Aviv, two different road accident caused massive traffic backups. One near Issawiya between Ma’aleh Adumim and Jerusalem’s French Hill necessitated a 20-minute detour through parts of east Jerusalem I never knew existed, and another, just before the Kibbutz Galyulot exit off the Ayalon freeway, was so close to Nokia we could almost feel the musical vibrations we weren’t hearing.
Sedaka and his veteran band was just finishing up a rousing version of
his 1950s signature tune “Breaking Up is Hard To Do,” and the soldout
mature audience gave a rousing ovation.
Through the next few songs from his vast songbook, the tenseness of the
ride quickly wore off, and Sedaka’s unavoidable optimism proved
contagious. The 71-year-old musical legend performed with a kind of
buoyancy generally reserved for artists a quarter of his age.
When he arose from the piano to do some nifty twostep or salsa move like
the Las Vegas pro that he is, my wife exclaimed, “he’s so cute!” That
geniality he oozed kept the show from becoming too shmaltzy, as Sedaka
brought out his high-on-the-wimpmeter hits from the 1970s like “Love
Will Keep Us Together” and “Laughter in the Rain.”
But he could do no wrong with the audience, and when, late in the show,
he performed solo renditions of “My Yiddishe Mama” and “Vi Ahin Zol Ikh
Geyn” with its lines about the Promised Land, “for at least I’m free, no
more wander for me,” they responded with a standing ovation.
Entertainer became a dirty word somewhere along the line in the rock
era, but there’s something to be said for sheer, unadulterated
entertainment, when it’s performed as impeccably and professionally as
Neil Sedaka does it.
It even made the ride back from Tel Aviv a pleasure.