After two unforgettable hours, I can state with some authority that watching the Rolling Stones live is a pounding, thrilling joyride of unadulterated rock and roll.
About 50,000 people sweated their way across Yarkon Park in Tel Aviv on Wednesday evening to see the legendary rockers play their first concert in Israel. And I'm certain none of us were disappointed.
Perhaps no one was more excited than Rami Fortis, the veteran Israeli rocker who warmed up the crowd (as if anyone there needed warming up in any way), bringing his own delighted energy to the event. Endearingly, each of his songs was punctuated by his worshipful reminders of what an honor it was to be on the same stage as the rock legends. As career highs go, that's not a bad one to have.
The Stones opened with what one could assume to be their standard - and clever – choice of Start Me Up. Watching Mick Jagger explode onto the stage clad in glitter and black made tens of thousands of fans simultaneously scream in delight, and, according to reports, cause a near stampede among late-comers still queuing at the security check.
And the hits kept coming – Paint it Black, Angie (note to Israelis: Jagger's cockney accent is not in fact saying "Angel" – according to Richards, Angie is a euphemism for heroin), Miss You, Sympathy for the Devil, Honky Tonk Woman, Get Off My Cloud, Jumpin' Jack Flash and Gimme Shelter.
Jagger, unsurprisingly, is a dynamic stage presence. The attention to detail that was evident throughout the show included a clever choice of Hebrew phrases, with him wishing the ecstatic crowd "Chag Shavuot sameach" (happy Shavuot festival), announcing that they were "Ha'evanim Hamitgalgelot" (Rolling Stones) and even telling Ronnie Wood that, "kanita hana'alayim b'shuk" (you bought your shoes in the market).
He drew the audience in easily with a joint rendition of Sympathy for the Devil's famous "woo woo" refrain, and again with the wordless chorus of Miss You. And the thrill of sharing a(n admittedly massive) singalong with Mick Jagger is certainly an enduring one.
These performers are musicians at heart. They, like us, are there for the music. You could see it on the face of Keith Richards, who laughed and smiled his way through the show; in the deadpan concentration of Charlie Watts, who spent the night banging out the beat that directed the others; in Ronnie Wood's perspiration-drenched mastery of his instrument; and of course in Mick Jagger's jaw-dropping, seemingly limitless energy as he bounded, sprinted, pranced and gyrated up and down the stage for two hours in 35-degree heat. And they, each hovering around the 70 mark, made it look effortless.
The music was in control of the stage throughout, with songs punctuated by long guitar riffs, harmonica and sax solos, and a staggering duet between Jagger and their crazily talented back-up vocalist Lisa Fischer. And it was divine.
After a tumultuous non-stop rocking two hours, the Stones saved the best for last with an encore of You Can't Always Get What You Want, and, finally, Satisfaction. Fireworks signaled the end of the show, and the crowd, a sea of bodies pouring with sweat and hearts pounding to the beat of rock and roll at its purest, inched their way back through the park.Only the absence of Wild Horses made the tiniest, almost inconsequential, dent in what was the greatest rock concert I have ever seen. My 70-something aunt, who saw them in England in the late 1960s, told me to say hi to Mick for her, and promised me I wouldn't be disappointed. She was absolutely right.
Yes, it was hot, and yes, it was crowded, but I doubt that any person standing in Yarkon Park on Wednesday night regretted being there. You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you can get to see The Rolling Stones.