It's about time. There were almost no foreign gigs in Israel in the last few years. Scheduling and cancelling, usually for "security reasons" became an all too sad joke (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ian Brown, TATU etc.) I only remember Jethro Tull and a few minor events.
So finally, a three-day festival with major international acts. And some lesser ones who need promotion - but most of them have character. The selection of artists seems to point at a "vibe", "dance", "funk" direction - Faithless, Róisín Murphy, The Bays, Earth Wind & Fire, Infected Mushroom, with some touches of world music - Boban Marković Orkestar, Emiliana Torrini, Seis Cuerdas and of course rock, mostly Israeli - Blackfield and Fortisakharof.
I arrived with Hadar from Jerusalem, the traffic jam in the entrance took a whole bloody hour, during which we heard the Blackfield gig on the radio and it wasn't too interesting - mostly the songs from Aviv and Steven's album and Porcupine Tree's "Feel So Low" and all of them sounded just like they do on the album. We came in just in time for Róisín Murphy. Her name is pronounced roh-sheen, she's Irish. I'm probably the only Israeli who knows it. And well, quite a few people that studied Linguistics in HUJI took a course in Irish and maybe they know it too. But the radio hosts say roh-zeen and the newspapers transcribe it to Hebrew as רויסין, which is the right transliteration for, well, Róisín, but it's the wrong transcription. Anyway, she's the girl from Moloko, she's stylish, she can sing, she does funny things on stage, and her band is jazzy-funky. There is a problem with songs, however, which sound quite similar to Moloko's, but rather heavy-handed and somewhat less fun; maybe if i give her album a chance they can grow on me. Still, the show was quite enjoyable, but the sound towards the end was terrible - the bass was suddenly turned too high and it made quite a lot of people actually run away from the stage. But except that - great fun.
Faithless ... they were amazing. I didn't have very high expectations, but these guys just blew me away. There was a complete live band with percussion, bass and guitar, Ayala "Sister Bliss" Ben-Tuvim played keyboards and was, well, hot, but it was, of course, Maxi Jazz who stole the show. He started in a suit, later removed it and for the last few songs he went half-nude. He got some energy. He's a professional with character. The simple little phrase "I can't get no sleep" from their greatest hit "Insomnia" made the crowd crazy, quite expectedly; the vibe was more positive and ecstatic than i would imagine.
We had to go home to Jerusalem early - i had an Italian exam today - so we didn't stay until the end of Infected Mushroom with Erez Netz show, but from the few songs i saw, the combination of trance with Netz's virtuoso electric guitar solos was surprisingly good. Metal and trance crowd united there very nicely.
It was tiring and on the way back Hadar drove and i was completely mastool - slept and mumbled crazy crap i can hardly remember now, and i didn't take any drugs or alcohol. So i guess it was another sign that this first day of the festival was really satisfying.