Ivri Lider knows how to play a crowd. Celebrating 25 years of his highly successful career as a singer/songwriter, he entered the packed Menora Mivtachim Arena in Tel Aviv on Thursday night more than half an hour late (it was scheduled to begin at 9), but the adoring audience quickly forgave him.
He elegantly moved through the aisles, singing “Hamizrach Hatichon” (The Middle East), allowing people to take selfies with him as he approached the stage. Once there, the energetic Ivri, 48, backed up by his talented band and fantastic lighting and special effects, dazzled the audience with a superb selection of songs that he has recorded over his exceptional career.
He chatted with the crowd before each song, recalling that he had cut his first single, “Leonardo,” in August 1997. He even screened a short clip from Dan Shilo’s television talk show at the time, in which the host misspoke and asked him to sing his new hit, “Valentino,” eliciting laughter from the audience.
Lider opened by thanking the many fans who have followed and supported him over the years, noting that those who were teens when he started are now in their forties.
“In my youth, I stood alone opposite a mirror with a tennis racket that I played as if it were a guitar,” he said. “Years have passed – 25 years to be precise. I have learned a lot about myself and about you on this stage. I can see faces that I’ve seen for many years. Thanks for joining my celebration.”
Lider said that he had been reminded of a line from a movie along the lines of “‘Nobody is really special, but everyone can be special if the right person looks at you.’ Thanks for looking at me for 25 years and making me feel special. The truth is it’s not me, it’s you!”
“‘Nobody is really special, but everyone can be special if the right person looks at you.’ Thanks for looking at me for 25 years and making me feel special. The truth is it’s not me, it’s you!”Ivri Lider
The crowd roared with appreciation and most of them stood and danced throughout the performance, which went on until midnight. Among the highlights was a song he recorded interspersed with his mother’s voice, “Isha Leviathan” (Whale Woman), waving to his mom in the audience. Before singing “Batei Cafe” (Cafes), he invited a female fan (and he has a lot) to sip coffee with him on stage – and she clearly knew the lyrics. So did most of the audience, who happily sang with Lider throughout the performance.
He surprised many fans with new adaptations of “Adoni” (Sir), which he penned for Roni Duani, and “Bachom Shel Tel Aviv” (In the Heat of Tel Aviv), which he wrote for Sarit Hadad.
He also rendered an electronic combination of two numbers in English – REM’s “Losing My Religion” and Faithless’s “God is a DJ” – to the delight of the thousands of fans present, who shined the flashlights on their cellphones to show their appreciation.
The audience stood and joined him in chanting what has become a gay anthem, “Bo” (Come), originally sung by Rita and made popular by Lider in Eytan Fox’s 2002 romantic film, Yossi & Jagger.
Lider, who has become somewhat of a gay icon, made sure to thank his partner, Jonathan, and son, Albi, who was born via surrogacy in the US in 2019; his family and friends; his production team; and Arbel Communications, as well as each member of his band.
Thursday’s performance kicks off a series of concerts Lider has arranged to celebrate his quarter of a century on the stage. If you haven’t seen him on stage before, this would be a good time to do so!