Disturbed Live In Israel – Concert Review

Being a Zionist Israel-loving Jew these days isn’t easy.

The political climate is bad, the Israeli government is a mess and the holy land has always been a source of deep division and controversy even at the best of times, yet, one brave man named David Draiman brought his band – Disturbed, to perform in Israel and showcased his Jewish pride full-on for the world to see.

In the most pro-Israeli show I have ever witnessed in my life, Disturbed ignored the haters, the politics, the BDS and gave their Israeli fans a night they will never forget.

Way back in 2005, I had the pleasure of meeting David at the “Roadrunner Records 25th Anniversary Show” in NYC. When I introduced myself as a fan from Israel he surprised me by immediately switching to Hebrew and carrying a fluent conversation in my native language. He was so excited to meet a fan from Israel and told me how he always dreamed of performing here one day, and this week, 14 years later, that dream had become a reality at last.

New York, 2005

This type of excitement may seem strange to anyone who has the privilege of going to live shows year-round, but for us, Israeli music fans, attending a show in our own country is not something we take for granted. Unfortunately, the location in which we were born into comes with some seriously heavy baggage and music fans here suffer the consequences. Most bands do not bring their tours into Israel. That’s just a fact. It can be either due to financial or logistics reasons (being a tiny country in the middle east) or due to the notorious “Israeli-Palestinian Conflict”, a situation we, the fans, have zero control over, yet get punished for by many musicians that agree to boycott Israel and deny us the pure joy of a live show. So a lot of us are forced to travel to Europe to see our favorite artists live on stage and dream about the day that music will surpass politics.

Which brings me back to Disturbed, the same band with a Jewish frontman, who has a family in Israel and has visited the country many many times, but never with the band.

Fast forward to yesterday, on a steaming hot summer night, a miracle occurred and Disturbed finally got up on stage after a very long intro running through their entire career and greeted by over 10,000 sweaty metalheads with “Are you ready”.

Despite maintaining the exact same setlist throughout the tour, the show was no doubt one of a kind. David dusted off his Hebrew skills and spoke almost entirely in the native language to the ecstatic crowd. He swept everyone away with small jokes, emotional tears, tiny grammar mistakes, long speeches about being in Israel – the holy land, his heritage as a Jew, and most importantly dealing with loss, addiction, and depression while frequently jumping from the stage to the front row, allowing the fans to engulf him with love and hugs. 

The only change to the setlist was adding the song “Never Again” which wasn’t performed on stage since 2011 and was added due to the sensitive yet extremely relatable subject of the Holocaust. 

The usual backdrop of pyrotechnics and grandiose light show with an aggressive undertone was replaced by a sea of fans waving their cell phones and lighters in the air, crying, hugging and holding hands in an emotional tribute to the people we loved and lost and helping the ones who are struggling right now, in what felt like a huge group therapy session following the very emotional songs “A reason to fight”, “Hold on to memories” and “The light”.

The surprises continued when David changed his black getup with a commercialized tanktop with the IDF logo on it, causing an uproar from the crowd, who was not ready to contain such a huge act of solidarity, even from such a Zionist singer, who also dedicated the song “Indestructible” to the brave men and women of the Israeli army. 

Later, in another surprising solidarity act (and most likely the first of its kind), the screens changed into the Israeli flags and the ever charismatic David Draiman led the stunned crowd to sing the Israeli national anthem “Hatikva” (“The Hope”) in a chorus together.

Never before in the history of this young country, could you see an international metal band singing the national anthem with their huge crowd and for that, this show will forever be remembered as not only one of a kind but also the most pro-Israeli show ever.

Side note: In the United States, I have witnessed on numerous occasions, an act of patriotism from musicians, performing the anthem, singing with the crowd, strengthening the national pride, which always made me quite jealous, to be honest. In my country, there is always a feeling of shame that comes with being patriotic or Zionist, because of our complicated history and political state and it breaks my heart when I see so many young people lie about their true origin while traveling abroad not wanting to catch hate just because of where they come from. Being able to sing out loud, at the top of my voice, the Israeli anthem, in a metal concert of all places, made me so unbelievably proud and happy. Finally, I was allowed to show support at my own country without being afraid and that is a feeling that I didn’t have for a very long time. So for that, Disturbed, I am forever grateful. 

Photo by: Annie Atlasman Photography

At the end of the show, the band promised to return to Israel (hopefully this time it will be less than 20 years) and thanked the fans for an incredible night.  

I personally cannot wait for that next time, as music heals all wounds.

**Thank you to Alon Levin for the photos**

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