Tel Aviv was ready, waiting. Thousands of excited, expectant faces were turned to the stage in Yarkon Park from as early as 5 p.m. for the Rihanna concert — part of her Diamonds World Tour and her second visit to Israel. It was scheduled to start at 7:30. We knew that wouldn’t happen. But waiting, we would learn, was to be a recurring theme of the evening.
GTA (a deejay duo from Miami) opened the concert and whilst the crowd attempted to enjoy the warm-up act, we were impatient for the woman herself to appear. What started as a supportive crowd soon became restless as GTA continued for an hour, sampling different songs from different decades. At least there was something for people like myself, over the age of 16.
Five minutes after GTA left the stage, a screen rose and with it a mass of iPhones. Alas, another false start. Another 10 minutes passed, and what was now evident thanks to said iPhones was just how many people are addicted to the game Candy Crush.
Forty-five minutes after the warm up act had left the stage, the crowd had definitely cooled down and the booing began. Rumors began circulating that Rihanna had decided to visit the Dead Sea. (Indeed she had, and apparently overstayed.) Now, I’m all for seeing this incredible country; helping people take it all in and connect is what I do. But RiRi, there’s a time and place; 55,000 fans were waiting. Whatever the merit of floating and mudpacks, the show definitely suffered as a result of her tardiness.
At 10 p.m., when people were genuinely considering leaving, a voice hollered, “Tel Aviv!!!”
The Barbadian singer, real name Robyn Rihanna Fenty, burst onto the stage wearing a sheer black caftan, which she soon removed, revealing a black crop top, a short, wrap-around skirt (that only wrapped around half of her), a black and silver crown and the most fabulous killer heels. After two songs she had somewhat appeased the audience, calling out, “Tel Aviv! It’s been too long since I’ve been here, and you guys had to wait longer than usual and for that I apologize.”
We even cheered when she referred to us as “f***ing rockstars,” but it was half-hearted. While she did change her shoes for a more energetic dance number, there were no other costume changes, and 10 songs were left off the intended playlist.
She kept us happy with a little bit of everything, including “What’s my name,” “We Found Love,” “You Da One,” “Man Down,” “Only Girl” and a beautifully, soulful rendition of “Stay.” The crowd especially appreciated some of her more raunchy tunes, such as “S&M” and “Rude Boy,” but the biggest reaction of the night was to her classic “Umbrella,” which was accompanied by a number of raised brollies from some dedicated fans.
But all too soon the show was over, with just a quick encore of “Diamonds” to end the night. As the crowd surged as one to catch the last train, there was a unified and tangible feeling of disappointment.
To sum up the evening, two of her song titles phrase it best, for the waiting and for the show: “Where have you been” and then “Please don’t stop the music.”