Last night, Kobi Peretz, a Mizrachi pop star in Israel, came to grace us with song and music in an event sponsored by some government organization and arranged by the City Hall of Ma’alot. This event is timed to be the “End of the Summer” festivity, in particular, for all the school children returning to their studies. Held in a park at the first entrance of Ma’alot it is easily accessable for all residents of all the surrounding villages. As a flashback, last year there was a slightly different themed show in where there were local musical performances and a slew of stand-up comedians, many of them from Israel’s top comedy shows.
I arrived a little late as I had just come back from an Army meeting in Haifa but as soon as I went through security I knew I had not missed any of Kobi Peretz. Another singer, this one a winner of “Kochav Nolad” (“A Star is Born” – the Israeli equivilant to “American Idol”), was crooning away for the still assembling audience. People were buying pizza, popcorn, drinks and other snacks in preparation for the highlight of the night. Soon after, the “Kochav Nolad” star stepped down and a dignitary from the City Hall spoke and gave thanks to those bodies at work, trying to provide the citizens of Ma’alot, Tarshicha and the surrounding villages with a BOOM that would end the summer.
As soon as the formalities and introductions were cleared Kobi Peretz was announced. Blue lights and thick smoke obscured the musicians as they sat down and began the hype. A few minutes later Kobi Peretz’s silhouette could be seen through the smoke as he advanced on the myriads of excited youngsters. And then it began… the concert of Kobi Peretz.
The first song came and went, Kobi Peretz went from side to side giving high-fives and whatever else it is that singers do at the front row. He then announced that there was a unit in the crowd from the IAF (Israeli Air Force) and asked them to come onstage with him. They did so, quite happily if I might add.
The crowd of at least 1,000 strong went on and on, singing with Kobi Peretz and the soldiers as he passed the mic around to them.
The soldiers stayed onstage forever until one of the security details hinted for them to walk off. People gave them thumbs-up as they walked back to their seats, each of them a star for a moment. Of course, Kobi Peretz also did stuff with the citizen attendees, he held a baby onstage and donned a scarf from one of the world’s soccer teams (sports eludes me so I do not know which team it was). There was also two children/teens in wheelchairs so he made a special effort to excite them too. With one he went over and gave a blessing that she should be up and dancing soon to which hundreds of people said “Amen” to. The other Kobi went up to him and spoke words of encouragement and sang a song special for the handicapped child/teen. The following picture was taken right at the wheelchair with Kobi Peretz making merry in front of the boy.
One of the funniest parts of the concert was when he wanted to sing his hit song “Yachad” (featuring Ishtar Alabina). The problem was that Ishtar wasn’t there and she sings in both Arabic and English in the song. He asked the crowd if there was anyone who knew all of the words, including the Arabic ones. People said they did and Kobi picked one. He stuck the mic in the girl’s face and had her sing one of Ishtar’s stanzas. To me it sounded good but Kobi decided that it sounded more like Chinese to him but “it was all good.” He then called up one of his back-up singers and the two of them did the duet in proper Hebrew, Arabic and English. (Although I wouldn’t call myself a Kobi Peretz fan I do like the “Yachad” song.)
The concert went on for another 45 minutes or so and Kobi Peretz bid the crowd a good night. I was surprised at how abrupt the show ended but what can I do about it? I then made my way back home, a decent 10 minute walk. For all those interested in hearing what Kobi Peretz sounds like here is a random clip from YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TgvsP8ih1ug