Despite ongoing pressure on them to cancel the show – up to the last minute – the Rolling Stones performed before nearly 50,000 people in Tel Aviv's Hayarkon Park Wednesday night. Fans happily plunked down NIS 700 ($200) for tickets to what many called afterwards the most sophisticated and high-tech concert ever performed in Israel.
The ticket prices were also the highest for any concert ever performed in Israel, a factor that many thought would deter Israelis from attending, but in the end, the concert was a near sellout. Observant fans of the band also protested that the concert was being held just minutes after the end of the Shavuot holiday. About this, organizer Shuki Weiss said that the date had been chosen by the Stones and that they had no flexibility on the matter due to their tight schedules. However, several observant people were in the audience, having stayed in hotels or with friends in the area over the holiday and walking over to the concert venue after it ended.
The Stones played most of their big hits from the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, with 71-year old frontman Mick Jagger peppering his performance with Hebrew phrases, introducing his fellow band members like Charlie Watts, the Stones' drummer, with their Hebrew job titles. Jagger also wished the crowd “Shavuot Sameach,” a happy Shavuot, referring to the Jewish holiday that had come to an end right before the Stones took the stage. The concert even made Stones' history, with Jagger inviting former guitarist Mick Taylor, who was one of the some 1,200 people in the band's entourage (including 200 staff and 1,000 fans following them on their worldwide concert tour), to join the Stones on stage for the first time in 40 years.
On Tuesday, Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, notorious for his anti-Israel stance, again urged the Stones to cancel their Israeli show. In a statement issued several weeks ago with surviving Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason, the two wrote to Jagger that "Playing Israel now is the moral equivalent of playing Sun City at the height of South African apartheid. Regardless of your intentions, crossing the picket line provides propaganda that the Israeli government will use in its attempts to whitewash the policies of its unjust and racist regime."
Continuing to ignore Waters and others who called for cancellation, Jagger and fellow band members visited the Kotel (Western Wall) on their arrival in Israel on Tuesday. Band members placed notes in the Kotel, and also visited several other sites in Israel, including Caesarea.
The concert is considered a major failure for advocates of boycott groups who have been urging international artists not to perform in Israel.