Kaveret: The glorious twilight of Israel’s greatest start-up
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Concert review

Kaveret: The glorious twilight of Israel’s greatest start-up

Nostalgic melodies, with ethereal harmonies, from the battered septet in Jerusalem’s Sultan’s Pool

David Horovitz

David Horovitz is the founding editor of The Times of Israel. He is the author of "Still Life with Bombers" (2004) and "A Little Too Close to God" (2000), and co-author of "Shalom Friend: The Life and Legacy of Yitzhak Rabin" (1996). He previously edited The Jerusalem Post (2004-2011) and The Jerusalem Report (1998-2004).

Kaveret at Sultan's Pool in Jerusalem (photo credit: Flash90)
Kaveret at Sultan's Pool in Jerusalem (photo credit: Flash90)

Kaveret began its second Jerusalem concert, appropriately enough, with “Lamrot Hacol” — “Despite everything” — and the song’s first words were even more poignant than they had been only the night before: “We had all kinds of problems. We didn’t think we’d make it…”

On Wednesday, they made it to Sultan’s Pool despite all of their advancing years, despite singer Gidi Gov having broken his shoulder just days ago, and despite guitarist Yitzhak Klepter’s long-term infirmity, which requires him to play the entire concert seated.

By Thursday, they had another casualty to add to the list; keyboard player Yoni Rechter injured himself during rehearsal, and was rushed to the hospital. Kaveret have boosted their septet for this first mini-tour in 15 years with half-a-dozen younger virtuosos, and Rechter’s place could have been temporarily filled by one of the whippersnappers. But they delayed the start, Rechter made it back, and what a concert they gave the 8,000 word-perfect Israelis of all ages.

The years certainly show on their faces and frames, but the musicianship remains peerless, the humor is mercifully intact, and the harmonies are quite beautiful. Kaveret’s are songs that were written in 1970s Israel, and thus immediately engender nostalgia, with lyrics full of wit and wordplay, sometimes of Pythonesque surrealism, and occasional spears of darkness; the music is far more Beach Boys and Beatles than Rolling Stones, melodic and soaring.

They played every major song in their catalog — so much so that we all knew which tunes were left for the encores. And throughout, as each familiar hit unrolled, the sense pervaded that they had left this comeback tour perilously late. How much longer is that improbably angelic voice going to emerge from Efraim Shamir’s bearlike body? How many more times will Meir Fenigstein make the reunion journey from the US? How much deeper can Klepter dig within to sustain his lyrical guitar playing; his soft-smiling pleasure at the warmth of the ovations he received throughout the evening was enough to bring tears to the eyes.

Almost 30 years ago, when ours was a much less populous country, half-a-million people reputedly came out one night to hear Kaveret play. Gov thanked us for crashing the ticket-sales website in our desperation to bag these few thousand tickets in Jerusalem this week. Two bigger Tel Aviv shows are scheduled for August. They could probably draw a few hundred thousand again nowadays, if they pushed it, because Kaveret pulse to the beat and convey the wistfulness of a simpler, gentler land, and it’s a country to which we’d all like them to lead us back.

They began with “Lamrot Hacol,” and they ended, equally appropriately and inevitably, with “Nehmad” — “Nice” — its lyrics also full of poignancy: “It’s better to end together, with everyone.”

The evidence of their own mortality was there on stage, while, at the very end, the big screens showed black-and-white photographs of them all in their aching 70s handsome youthfulness. Danny Sanderson thanked Waze for routing them to the concert, but Kaveret were Israel’s greatest start-up. And there won’t be too many shows like this before their exit.

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David Horovitz

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