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Remembering The Good ol' Days

Updated: May 27

Israel has for years been an attractive destination for some of the world's greatest musicians and artists, and they continue to perform in front of the Israeli crowds every summer (whenever there isn't a dangerous pandemic taking over the world of course). We decided to review the top 5 artists with the most memorable concerts our little country has hosted.

A man playing on a large drum on a stage

Dire Straits 1985

That year, Dire Straits were one of the biggest names in international music history. They opened their Brothers in Arms tour right here in Israel, in the Yarkon Park in Tel Aviv. Around 80,000 people came to see the two concerts, a staggering amount for that era.


Fun fact - before the first show, the band's equipment was stuck in Yugoslavia, and the trucks carrying their equipment got stuck in a snow storm. The Israeli production company had to pay for a special flight to bring the equipment, which only landed the morning of the set day. To make things worse, the show was on May 1st, meaning nobody was working. Eventually, everything worked out and that concert was a milestone in the Israeli concert scene.


Leonard Cohen (1972)

The Jewish-Canadian singer performed in Israel many times, and his special relationship with our country was a pretty known fact. He even came to perform in front of soldiers at their outposts during the Yom Kippur War.

A very memorable concert of his took place at Binyanei Hauma in Jerusalem in 1972. According to Cohen's biography (I'm Your Man, 2012), Cohen was putting on quite the show, but because he was under heavy LSD effects, he felt that he was disappointing the crowd, so he and the band left the stage to meditate for half an hour. They then returned to the stage and wowed the crowd that burst into tears.


Bob Dylan (1987)

We don't really need to explain how big Bob Dylan is, his reputation speaks for itself. Dylan performed in Israel three times, in 1987, 1993, and in 2011. The show in '93 received good reviews, the one in 2011 got very mixed reactions, but Dylan's first two concerts in Israel in 1987 were a complete catastrophe. The first concert took place in Tel Aviv, and as Dylan described in his autobiography, it was his worst performance up until then. The second concert in Brehat HaSultan in Jerusalem wasn't any better, as a short circuit forced the show to stop after only 13 songs.



Michael Jackson (1993)

In 1993, Israel hosted two concerts, performed by one of the greatest artists of the time. We're talking of course about Michael Jackson in the early 90s. According to report estimates, his two shows in Tel Aviv drew around 135,000 fans that came to witness the master at work. Fun fact - Michael Jackson complained to his manager that he was sick of being locked inside the hotel room, so the concert producer emptied Luna Park that he owned for 4-5 hours, so Jackson could enjoy the facilities all to himself. They also closed half of the Dizengoff Center for him so he could do some shopping.



Madonna (2012)

Madonna performed in Israel many times, in fact, she is so connected with Israel that she owns a house here. She also has been studying Kabalah since the 90s, doesn't perform on Friday or Saturday, and even celebrates some Jewish holidays. All of this without even being Jewish.

Although her double performance in 2009 drew more people (104,500 to be exact), the one in 2012 was one of the biggest and most logistically complicated shows that Israel has ever seen. Four cargo planes, stage elevators, moving catwalks, Cirque de Soleil dancers... this thing was absolutely crazy!

There were many more great concerts here in Israel over the years, from Paul Simon and The Rolling Stones to Justin Bieber, Disturbed, Metallica, and Guns n' Roses. We just hope we can return to being a music mecca once again.


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