Two days before her performance in Israel, singer Erykah Badu confidently and calmly stated “I am the music and the music is me.” At her Saturday show in the Ganei Taarucha Exhibition Grounds in Tel-Aviv, Badu lived up to every bit of that bombastic assertion.
In front of an enthusiastic crowd of thousands of fans, Badu positively lit up the stage, and gave what can undoubtedly be deemed the best R&B performance ever seen on an Israeli stage.
Lighting up the stage (Photos: Or Alterman)
For two and-a-half hours Badu effortlessly captivated the audience with boundless sound and energy, sporting a floral dress, jeans, high heels and her trade mark afro wig.
From the moment that the spotlights hit the singer, her larger-than-life presence commanded the audiences’ utmost attention. Without singing a note, Badu had the audience in the palm of her hands.
The R&B princess did not even need to dance or gyrate in order to enliven the crowd, though she spared them no sultry dance moves of her own. Even when standing stock still, Badu was pure, unadulterated magic on that stage.
Every note, every beat of the drums, every guitar riff and base rhythm generated by Badu, her band and her backup singers was precise, crisp and perfectly coordinated. This is exactly what R& B ought to sound like. This is what Badu’s music is to perfection.
In between songs, Badu told the audience that she had visited the city of Lod, and was replete with messages of peace, love, harmony and unity for the audience. “Believe in it, and not only because I told you so”, she told the crowd. Badu often came down to interact with the audience, latched on to them, allowed them to buoy her up and vice versa.
Where as news agencies reported that Badu’s last album, Worldwide Underground, had a relatively disappointing showing and sold only 609,000 copies worldwide, her Israeli performance, musically and otherwise, was anything but.
Badu in action
Meeting fans at eye level
The singer met with fans after the show, in her bare feet while nibbling on raspberries and green beans, and listened patiently to all of their well wishes and stories. She told fans about her travels in Israel, her family history, her 10-year-old son, Seven, and three-year old daughter Puma, as well as current boyfriend Jay Electronica.
She ended the meeting by asking fans to pray for peace with her, a rare moment in which an artist speaks to an audiences’ soul and meets them truly at eye level.
Rafi Barbiro contributed to the report