When Shlomi Shook the Hancock

If you haven’t attended a concert with a thousand of your nearest and dearest Israeli friends, well, you haven’t attended a concert.

There’s something that’s just … different … about the atmosphere, the vibe, and, in at least one recent case, the love between artist and audience that transforms the experience from mere performance to heartfelt encounter.

When Shlomi Shabat came to Boston on June 29, 2015 to help launch EL AL’s new nonstop service between Boston and Tel Aviv, I knew I’d hear some great music. I knew that even with my very limited Hebrew I’d love the ballads, the banter and the simple opportunity to see an icon perform in front of his “tribe,” thousands of miles from home.

But I didn’t know I’d witness a lovefest. I didn’t know I’d be part of a throng of adoring fans waving “light sticks.” And I certainly didn’t know I’d be dancing in the aisles with EL AL’s senior management.

As many live recordings of the great Israeli artists as I have – all of which feature, at some point, the audience singing the refrains of every hit as the artist lets the crowd have its solo – I hadn’t been part of that crowd, that crowd that knows every lyric, that simply expects to have its turn, and that converses effortlessly with the artist in the kind of back and forth that you and I might have in a café.

It was a lovefest from the get-go, from the screening of EL AL’s slick promotional video that featured one of its flight crews, to that very flight crew dancing on stage at John Hancock Hall.

And if Boston can fill the seats on EL AL flights as effectively as Shlomi Shabat got us out of our seats and into the aisles, the future of nonstop service between Boston and Israel looks very bright indeed. 

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