Jose Feliciano in Israel: Short but Sweet
Jose Feliciano's performance at Nokia Arena had everything required: a moving string performance, nostalgic hits, fond words to Israel and the Ra'anana Symphonette Orchestra. Too bad it lasted for little more than one hour.
Amit Koltler 11.10.13 YNET
The moving scene at the end of Feliciano's performance last night (Thursday) was worth everything. Dozens of blind people assisted by guide dogs left the stadium with a smile on their faces, happy and content.
This quality time was given to the visually impaired on account of Feliciano himself being blind from birth. Alongside his performance last night at Nokia Arena, he also came to Israel to visit the Israeli Center for Seeing Eye dogs. 'I wanted to take a dog but he couldn't understand me because I don't speak Hebrew' Feliciano joked on-stage between songs in his polished English. He also noted Yonatan (Yoni) Peres, the president's son that works as a veterinarian and assists the Seeing Eye dog centre. Afterwards he addressed Prime Minister Netanyahu and requested him to assist and support the population in which he is included.
Oh, yes. There were also songs yesterday. Feliciano was accompanied by a small group of his musicians that joined over 40 musicians of the Ra'anana Symphonette Orchestra. This successful combination managed to intensify what Feliciano did for most of his career: wonderful performances of other's songs. 'This is a dream come true' he described the feeling of performing alongside the orchestra's musicians for the first time in his career in Israel. 'Before an audience of Latinos and Ladinos', as his favourite definition.
Whoever follows the career of the masterful Puerto-Rican guitarist was probably not surprised by his wonderful string virtuoso but was surely impressed from the successful combination with the orchestra. Feliciano's music and song which has remained as solid as his performances from the 60s and 70s, combined rock alongside folk bolero and Latin pop alongside American kitsch.
He performed his greatest hits one after the other and also 'those of others' and managed to bring a unique and interesting musical interpretation (much like his original recordings) that distinguishes him from others.
As such, we were privileged to hear the familiar and unique Feliciano versions of 'Light My Fire' by The Doors and 'California Dreaming' by the Momma and the Poppas. In addition the original classic Latin hits must also be noted – the great 'Oye Guitarra Mia' and the moving 'Nina' which he dedicated to his daughter and to parents of other daughters (the original recording contains her 2 year old laugh) and 'Que Sera' which he performs in Spanish and Italian. Those able to distinguish nuances in Spanish would be able to say that the Puerto Rican sounded in some parts not as one of his own but rather as an ancient Cuban taken straight from the famous 'Buena Vista Club'.
In addition to the songs Feliciano performed several melodies on stage, among them several classics which exactly fit the number of musicians on stage but not the large audience that came to the listen to the artist play and sing. These were also at the expense of several hits his fans expected to hear, as they told us themselves and at the expense of several new covers including songs by Elton John which he played magnificently in the past.
Feliciano, much like the previous Latin star that visited Israel – Julio Iglesias, didn't spare any sincere kind words of Israel to the audience: 'I am excited to be in the only democracy in the Middle East and I hope the other side, the undemocratic side of this region, will understand they have to sit down and negotiate. I will continue to love Israel even when I am not here' he said.
Previously, at the beginning of the evening he mentioned that he has already visited us several times and added: 'Israel Keep Fighting'. It is unclear whether he meant for peace or against our enemies.
The only problem with the invested production (which included an unusually good sound) at Nokia Arena last night was the length of the concert. The entire concert, including the entertaining encore in which he performed the excellent but insufferable 'Feliz Navidad', was less than an hour and a quarter. Not long enough to experience Feliciano's magnificent capabilities. The audience (more so than usual) didn't understand when the concert had ended and many expressed their discontent when leaving. While he was on stage though, Feliciano delivered an entertaining international-Latin-American experience.
גרם לכולם לחייך. חוזה פליסיאנו בהיכל נוקיה (צילומים: ירון ברנר)