In the summer of 1969 our cultural imagination was pushed to the limit. Rarely in modern times has a singular event so clearly transcended the hum-drum flow of history. However, despite the holy place we often choose to reserve for Woodstock, we mustn’t blind ourselves: the festival was fraught with sex, drugs and rock n’ rolling in the mud. Although this may have been instrumental in created the ethos surrounding Woodstock, it was seriously lacking in practicality. Organizationally speaking, it was a nightmare. Jerusalem Woodstock Revival 111 finds that elusive middle ground between the dream and the reality, bringing the theory into practice and the memory of that magical moment down to earth where we can enjoy it.
The evening began early with the sun still high in the sky as Natan Galili took the stage to perform songs by one of more famous artists who declined to perform at Woodstock, Bob Dylan. The decision to perform the music of artists that were not present at the original festival shows an important understanding of the audience, and stands in stark contrast to Dylan’s recent concert in Israel where it was quite clear that pleasing the crowds was rather far from his mind.
Throughout the early evening the steady flow of visitors, many of them in tie-dyes, continued to fill the field. There were some groups of young people, but mostly families could be seen spreading blankets on the artificial grass turf of the stadium and tossing footballs and frisbees through the air. The unity in the crowd was beautiful: young and old alike were dancing to the music that has lasted and been loved for years; much of it just as relevant as ever.
Pritzat Disk (Hebrew: slipped disk) were next on the bill, and though lead vocalist Gershon Fisher looked and dressed like Limp Bizkit front man, Fred Durst – not your classic oldies cover artist, they really hyped up the crowd with powerful covers of Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix. Next Clare Diane and Graffiti, returning to the festival after last year’s visit, played a variety of highlights from varying time periods. The field was filling up and people were rising to join the crowd that had gathered to dance near the stage. The party had begun.
Libi and the Flash played hits by Joe Cocker, Cream and Jefferson Airplane, but their rendition of Shir Ha’Ma’alot undoubtedly stands out. They were followed by Long Time Gone, who departed from their usual CSNY repertoire to play another often acronymed band that performed at Woodstock, Creedence Clearwater Revival.
The sun had long since set, but the audience showed no signs of slowing down and the excitement was mounting. The stage was set, figuratively and literally, for the headliners.
Yael Dekelbaum of Ha’Banot Nechama, who last year covered Janis Joplin with authenticity that made a good case for reincarnation, began her set alone with the song Bobby McGee. She continued with the beloved ‘Mercedes-Benz’ a-cappella, including the audience in one verse. She then proceeded to invite Tree to join her on stage for Joni Mitchell’s Woodstock.
As the final chords reverberated through the air, all present were intensely aware of the power unique to only a truly magical performance, Yael crediting the special atmosphere that Tree generate when playing. An impromptu duet with Libi followed and far too few songs later, Yael exited the stage.
Tree picked up right where they left off with Yael and rocked a set of Grateful Dead tunes. The Dead, known for their exceptional ambiance and the vibes at their live shows, were a perfect fit for the talented trio who brought the show to a fitting end.
Mix tapes can be challenging and set lists for concerts even more. It is harder still to string together a line-up such as this, in a natural order, with each performer seemingly born to play each note struck. To bring together a festival like Jerusalem Woodstock Revival 111, takes pure class.
Many thanks to Tammy Salomon for her wonderful pictures of the concert!