He did it his way

I wasn’t a fan. I never had the urge to see him in concert. But, his last Tel Aviv appearance drew rave reviews, and then he announced he was coming back. That made my mind up. Any artist who so openly gives the BDS extremists apoplexy by his support for Israel is to be warmly welcomed. And so he was.

Paul Anka played at the Nokia arena last night in Tel Aviv. The arena looked full and the atmosphere, right from the off, was warm and enjoyable. The maestro, popped up in the middle of the stalls for his opening number (Oh, Diana), connected with the audience and kept it up over an incredible 2 hour plus show.

Apparently he celebrated his 70th birthday last July. Well, he may be diminutive, but he is also well groomed, and as fit as the proverbial rock and roll guitar. He belted out song after song, kept moving, and worked, worked, worked, at entertaining his audience. He radiated joy at the reception given to him by his audience. And he made regular excursions from the stage to mingle – while performing – to the undisguised joy of the fans.

He covered many of his well known hits, and one or two less popular recordings, peppering the show with some clips of family, his younger performing self, and a poignant rendition by Sammy Davis Junior of I’m not anyone. (Paul Anka described Sammy Davis as the greatest entertainer ever. Not the first time I have heard that description, but I have so little experience of the artist, I cannot comment. I wonder which living artist would best lay claim to that title?)

His band were terrific, with only an errant drumstick the slightest sign of imperfection. The sound system and engineers, to my deaf ears, struggled a bit to cope in one or two numbers, but it wasn’t bad. Paul Anka’s voice is clearly not what it was, but on the night it was fine, powerful and pleasant to listen to.

The tickets were not cheap, but at the end of the night, we felt we had had value for our money. He is a professional and that shone through in everything he did. He wanted to make us feel good, and we wanted to keep applauding and hearing yet another encore. A very, very, good night.

[By complete coincidence, we were trying to get into the stadium at the entrance at the same time as Paul Anka arrived, complete with bodyguards. He was about a couple of meters away, so I got a good close look. He was short, immaculately turned out, and wearing a wide, open smile. He seemed oblivious to the bodyguards ‘hamming’ it up as they cleared a path for the star.]