Sean Paul sweats it out in Rishon

Many of Paul's biggest hits came out before some audience members were born, but the crowd at the Live Park in Rishon Lezion skewed decidedly young.

Sean Paul at a hip-hop festival in Rishon Lezion, August 22, 2017.  (photo credit: YOSSI MAMIA)
Sean Paul at a hip-hop festival in Rishon Lezion, August 22, 2017.
(photo credit: YOSSI MAMIA)
There were two types of people at the Sean Paul concert in Rishon Lezion Tuesday night: fans of the Jamaican rapper – and their parents.
No matter that many of Paul’s biggest hits came out before some of them were born – the crowd at the Live Park in the center of the country skewed decidedly young.
Some of that was undoubtedly due to the setup of the evening – not a standalone concert for Paul, but a hip-hop festival that ran for more than eight hours, from 6 p.m. to past 2 a.m. The other performers, all local musicians, came on one after the other, trying to get a crowd waiting patiently for Paul to hold on just a little longer. Full disclosure: I did not stay for all, or even most of, the full eight hours.
The lineup of other artists ranged from glorified YouTube stars to those with actual radio hits – like Katrix and Doron Biton’s fun and poppy “Chofshiya.”
And I experienced a real “only-in-Israel” moment when Biton recited a blessing out loud over his water – next to Katrix whose denim track suit read “f**k ur mom.” I mean, kids these days.
But while the diehards were dancing the whole time, you could see on the faces of much of the crowd that they were just waiting for the headliner to arrive. And arrive he did, at 10:15 p.m., right on schedule. The crowd lit up at his appearance, and whipped out their smartphones to document the occasion.
And they weren’t disappointed.
Paul certainly came to give it his all (and also because Israel has “many beautiful women”), and went through at least a dozen sweat-soaked towels in his 90-minute set.
From “Get Busy” to “Give it Up to Me” and “Like Glue,” Paul gave an energetic performance, bouncing around the stage non-stop, leading to a few out-of-breath moments. But after all, he’s a 44-year-old dad with a newborn baby.
The sound wasn’t great, and at times it was hard to hear Paul’s lyrics, though you could always feel the pulsating, non-stop beat.
The crowd really roared when some of his biggest hits came on, but it was hard not to feel like those songs were missing something. And they were – usually their lead singer. From “Baby Boy” by Beyonce to “Cheap Thrills” by Sia and “Rockabye” by Clean Bandit, I found myself wishing it was the other artists on stage instead of Paul. After all, a track playing Beyonce while the music video is displayed in the background is not quite the same thing.
If you came to be wowed with an artistic performance at the Live Park on Wednesday night, you were probably disappointed. But if, like most fans, you came to have a wild dance party at the height of summer then you had a blast you’re probably still recovering from.