Concert Review: Kobi Peretz

The 34-year-old Mizrahi superstar put on a stunning show to remember, delighting the legions of loyal fans.

Kobi Peretz
Nokia Arena
February 9
Last Tuesday night Kobi Peretz came home. Just a few days after returning from a month-long North American tour, the 34-year-old Mizrahi superstar made history by becoming the first Israeli singer to perform at Tel Aviv’s Nokia Arena, located just a stone’s throw from the the suburb of Kfar Shalom where he grew up.
And not only did Peretz fill the venue that recently hosted Paul Anka and Julio Iglesias, he played two sold-out concerts in a row.
Having barely had time to get his bearings Peretz may have been somewhat tired and jet-lagged, especially on Tuesday when he was playing at the Arena for the second consecutive night.
But he still put on a stunning show to remember, delighting the legions of loyal fans he has garnered in his 15-year career.
Some 8,000 people packed the venue best known for hosting Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball games, chanting Peretz’s name before, during and after the two-hour presentation in the manner of sports supporters.
Because, for the fans, Peretz is one of them, a man who makes every effort not to appear aloof or self-effacing. He thanked the crowd for their support at every opportunity and even said the “Shema” prayer towards the end to thank God.
That is not to say he isn’t every inch the professional showman.
There was barely a moment to take a breath during the concert, which featured an orchestra and a superb dance troupe along with some excellent fireworks and other special effects.
An electric atmosphere filled the arena as the musicians began to play, a countdown was launched and the massive backdrop screen exploded into color.
As Peretz emerged, dressed resplendently in a white suit and black neck-tie, cheers overtook the venue and he went straight into a best-of set list full of crowd pleasers.
After only a few minutes he had the audience eating out of his hand.
Each of the favorites, from “Ha’achat shel Chaiyai” to “Ben shel Melech” saw nearly the entire crowd sing along, with some people appearing to be close to tears.
One of the biggest cheers came midway through the performance when Peretz introduced female songstress Ishtar for a duet of “Yachad.”
Ishtar, an Israeli who found fame a decade ago when she fronted the French pop band Albina, took over the stage for a few numbers while Peretz took a break. The headliner soon reemerged, dressed in a red shirt and tight white pants, and was back in control.
It was a consummate performance from a man who knows how to give the fans what they want.
Peretz is by no means a high-brow artiste. He is a true pop star, pure and  simple, with easy to remember, catchy songs that stick in your head.
He did attempt to add some spice to the show, inserting a drum ’n’ bass style breakbeat into one number, but the audience seemed a little confused by the change in style, preferring the basic to the complicated.
During another song the dancers broke out into a Michael Jackson dance, complete with black hats tipped over the face while the musicians played the tune of “Black or White,” attracting joyous cheers from the audience.
While Peretz announced that it was “a dream” to play the arena, the offering wasn’t totally overwhelming, at times lacking the passion seen in his five-night stint at Caesarea’s amphitheater last summer.
However, the crowd didn’t seem to have any complaints. Peretz provided them with a Middle Eastern mega-experience and they lapped it up.
For his final encore, Peretz sang the title song from his ninth album, Kama Ahava, while whistling the tune of Elvis Presley’s “Falling in Love” between verses.
It was a fitting end to a populist production which left the crowd begging for more.
Ishtar will perform at Heichal Hatarbut on March 2.