Everyone loves a good concert, right? Just hanging out with friends hearing one of your favorite bands play your favorite songs. There’s something about live music that just can’t be captured on a recording. The energy and excitement are like nothing else.
But what about a concert that makes a controversial political statement? Not just the lyrics or the social messages behind the songs but the mere fact that the performance took place at all? That’s how it is when major music bands and artists decide to perform concerts in Israel. Every time a band lists Tel Aviv or Jerusalem on the itinerary of their tour, they are contacted by the anti-Israel group BDS and pressured to cancel the show. They receive flak from their vocal anti-Israel fans as well. Playing a live show in Israel is not politically correct, and it’s an easy decision to skip Israel.
Most bands and artists cave under the pressure. Many join their voices with the anti-Israel rhetoric and issue statements condemning the existence of the Jewish state.
When a band gets a lot of criticism and negative pushback and yet still decides to proceed with performing in Israel it says something about where they stand. They may not be as pro-Israel as we are in Messianic Judaism, but at least their show signals that they believe the Jewish state has a right to exist. Making that statement in today’s world is huge.
Israel has many exceptional concert venues. The Sultan’s Pool in Jerusalem, an ancient water basin on the west side of Mount Zion at the bottom of the Hinnom Valley dates back to the time of Yeshua. Modern Israel converted it into an outdoor music venue with stadium seating. There’s also the Caesarea amphitheater on the Mediterranean coast, which was a Roman amphitheater, refurbished and still used today for concerts and entertainment events. Other venues in Tel Aviv are state-of-the-art.
Which artists and bands are brave enough to play in Israel in recent years? There’s a wide variety. Quite a few pop artists who have performed in the Jewish state including Rhianna, Beyoncé, Alicia Keys, Lady Gaga, Linkin Park, Justin Bieber, Coldplay, and Sia. A few reggae acts have come such as Matisyahu and Bob Marley’s son Damian Marley. Classic rock acts such as Bob Dylan, Carlos Santana, Art Garfunkel (of Simon and Garfunkel), Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, and even Grateful Dead percussionist Mickey Hart. Also included is the Austrian psychedelic band Tame Impala, the English rockers Radio Head, and the cinematic style singer Lana Del Rey.
Just because these artists performed in Israel does not make their music spiritually kosher, and their music might not be to your taste. But if you do enjoy their music, how much sweeter is it knowing that they were willing to ignore anti-Israel pressure, take a risk, and perform in the Holy Land of Israel?