Lag Ba‘omer with Jamiroquai sets Rishon ablaze, burns BDS

Jamiroquai, the British acid-jazz-turned-techno-funk band from 1992, brought together two generations of Israeli fans Wednesday night in an evening of electric energy, epic tunes and groove at the Rishon LeTzion Live Park.

After a number of Israeli bands gave warm-up performances, at around 9:30 pm, Jamiroquai‘s lead singer, Jason Kaye (known to fans as Jay Kay – and no, he‘s not a joke) took to the stage in his iconic, iridescent porcupine helmet, the quills of which opened and closed to the beat of the music.

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"Shalom, Tel Aviv!" he began, oblivious to the fact that Rishon LeTzion is not quite Tel Aviv.

"Well, it took 25 years, but we‘re here," he continued, noting the fact that this is the band‘s first visit to Israel in its quarter-decade history. "Still alive. I‘m happy to be here."

On that note, he segued into the opening of the night with "Shake It On," one of the better-known songs from the band‘s newest album, Automaton, after which its current tour is named.

At first it was unclear whether the 48-year-old Jay Kay still had it in him to rock a show like he used to in his golden days. Clad in a long, neon-yellow-sleeved jacket, black gloves and heavy jeans, 10 minutes into the concert he was unmistakably sweating faucets. But when he paused to speak again after the first song, the energy level skyrocketed and the audience was his for the remainder of the night.

"You know, when you‘re my age you get a lot of bullshit," he said to laughter and applause from the crowd. "People telling me not to come to Israel? Bullshit. Bullshit!"

This statement calling out artistic boycotts of Israel sent the audience cheering, and soon after the band began to play one of its best-known tunes, the 1994 "Return of the Space Cowboy." Two more oldies followed, "Alright," and then "Virtual Insanity."

A respite from the crowd-pleasers followed, and Jamiroquai took the opportunity to play a couple of new tunes from Automaton. It seemed like much of the audience took the opportunity to go buy another beer, just in time for another favorite, "Cosmic Girl."

Near the end of the show Jay Kay cried "Tel Aviv!" again, but this time the space-warp made a bit more sense, as the musicians dove straight into the hit "Traveling Without Motion" – maybe everyone in attendance had motionlessly traveled to Tel Aviv after all.

To much of the audience‘s satisfaction, Jay Kay didn‘t leave without singing the famed anti-war anthem "Too Young to Die," which originally hadn‘t appeared on the set list. An Israeli favorite, even those who‘ve never heard of Jamiroquai will recognize it as the opening tune of the Army Radio morning show Ma Bo‘er.

The audience was an even mix of 40-somethings who nostalgically remember the acid-funk stars from their youth, and 20-somethings who discovered them recently, perhaps also as a result of their new album. Both generations didn‘t hesitate to dance like an 80s disco throughout the night, culminating in the spirited "Love Foolosophy" and the pop-funk encore, "Supersonic."