Some 40,000 people packed Tel Aviv’s Ganei Yehoshua Tuesday night for a concert in memory of Arik Einstein, one of the country’s most beloved musical icons who died last year.
More than 20 of Israel’s best-known musicians sang renditions of Einstein’s greatest hits, accompanied by a full orchestra, with some duets plus compositions performed by friends who worked with Einstein in the recent and more distant past.
The tribute show, titled “It’s the Same Kind of Love,” kicked off with a performance by Mickey Gavrielov, a contemporary of Einstein’s who also composed a number of songs for the musical star.
“I’m sure Arik can hear you now from above, and he’s amused,” Gavrielov told the cheering crowd.
Monica Sex took the stage next, singing an upbeat version of Einstein’s “Kafe Turki (Turkish Coffee),” followed by a string of heart-warming performances by Maor Cohn, David D’Or, Shem Tov Levi, Karolina, Danny Robas, Shalom Hanoch, and Rita.
The show’s most touching moment came with a performance by Yehudit Ravitz, Korin Alal, and Yoni Rechter, who came together to reproduce the classic “Atur Mitzhech,” singing along to Einstein’s voice from the original recording of the song.
Other performers included Avraham Tal, Arkadi Duchin, Berry Sakharof, Dudu Tassa, Danny Sanderson, Mosh Ben Ari, Micha Sheetrit, Machina, Ninette, and Shlomi Shabbat.
Einstein died at age 74 in November 2013 after he suffered a severe aortic aneurysm at his home in Tel Aviv.
Einstein, who time after time in his lifetime turned down offers to perform in Ganei Yehoshua, is considered to be the father of Israeli rock, the musician who moved the country from its early folk standards to a moderately harder-hitting rock ethos.
His sudden death set off waves of tributes, with radio stations playing his music exclusively and news channels running the type of nonstop coverage usually reserved for wars.
Former president Shimon Peres, who attended the Tuesday event, praised Einstein’s singing and songwriting abilities, adding that the performer’s music had helped inspire generations of Israelis.
“Arik, in your songs you have given our people unforgettable tunes and you have made us hold our heads up high – but most of all, you have given us a love like no other, a love for Israel and a love for Israelis,” Peres said.
“We are all grateful to you. We came here this evening to miss you and reply to your love. Arik, from this park, we say to you that this is the same love, and it will only grow.”
Jessica Steinberg contributed to this report.