Gil Ofarim’s comeback: And then he thanks him for being on stage

EIt’s Friday night, 10:26 pm, somewhere in the Rhenish province and Gil Ofarim is on a stage singing about “Pierrot”. Pierrot is the harlequin who always smiles when he feels like crying, the man who stands on stage and dances in the spotlight even though his feet hurt, but Pierrot can’t help it. He continues to dance and sing. Because Pierrot thinks he was born to dance and sing. And because Pierrot just can’t resist. The pull of the big stage. the applause. Of love. And the attention you give him: “My name is Pierrot / I dance when I have to / With my skull under my arm / And pain in my foot.”

Gil Ofarim sees himself as a kind of modern Pierrot, which is why he just keeps on singing, although the world, although his fame has long been waning – at least that’s how you imagine his emotional state. Perhaps Gil Ofarim is one of the most hated people in the German media audience and yet he is being pulled back into the spotlight. And on the stages of this republic. Even if they have gotten smaller. Like here, in the Kubana in Siegburg.

Siegburg is something like the next big city after Bonn and Bonn, which is the next big city near Cologne. So we are in the province of the suburbs and the “Kubana” is something like the multifunctional entertainment center of this suburban world. Sports centre, cocktail bar and music club in one. Last week, “Pimp Lizkit”, a Limp Bizkit tribute band, performed here and Ofarim has been announced for tonight. He is playing his “Alles auf Hoffnung” tour, which was supposed to take place in 2020, but a lot has happened since 2020. And the story begins a little earlier.

A comeback with a calendar sheet that says wisdom

Gil Ofarim, son of well-known musician Abi Ofarim, is discovered as a teenager for a Bravo photo love story (big thing in the 1990s), plays a teenage rock musician there, and ends up getting an offer from a record company to try some real rock music. They write an album and a hit single for him, he becomes a superstar in Germany and Asia at the age of 14, sells countless records and earns a lot of money.

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Then he tries his own music, fails, forms the band “Zoo Army”, fails, forms the band “Eight.” op, now sings in German, but fails again, then calls itself Gil Ofarim again and releases an album in 2020 that is brimming with calendar page wisdom and sayings, but let it make a real comeback.

Then came Corona. And after Corona came the incident. In front of a hotel in Leipzig, Ofarim accused an employee of not letting him check in because he was wearing a Star of David necklace. The video that Ofarim posted on Instagram was seen millions of times, it received a lot of attention and a huge wave of solidarity, hundreds of people made a pilgrimage to the hotel and protested against anti-Semitism.

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accusation of defamation

An investigation by the Public Prosecution Service showed that things could have gone very differently. At the end of October, the proceedings against Ofarim for libel and false suspicion will start. Ofarim has little left of love and solidarity. But there is another small spotlight.

The Gil Ofarim fan club is already here

Back to the Kubana. It’s Friday night, 8:15 PM, and there’s a man on stage in Siegburg who has a bird tattooed on his arm and calls himself Jack McBannon. Jack McBannon wears a tree feller shirt, has a guitar in his hand and says he was in Tennessee recently and recorded his new album with Johnny Cash’s son at Johnny Cash’s legendary studio and you sincerely ask wondering what’s going on with Johnny Cash’s son. son while you google that Jack McBannon’s real name is Thorsten, that his latest YouTube videos have not been watched 500 times and that he lives in Wuppertal. He is the one man support act for Ofarim.

The kubana is not even half full. Still, about a hundred people gathered on this Friday evening. They are almost exclusively women. The Gil Ofarim fan club is already here. That’s not a metaphor. The Gil Ofarim fan club is already here. It consists of a few ladies who travel from gig to gig and usually sit in the front row. Jack McBannon recognizes her and says hello. The women say hello. At 8:46 PM Gil takes the stage and after an intro he plays a song called “From the End of Sadness”: “How far your hope reach”, he sings, “to the end of your sadness”. A very fat woman, with a kissable mouth tattooed on her neck, closes her eyes and rocks her heavy body to the beat of the music and somehow you wonder if this really should be the end of the sorrow , or that it just started.

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Let’s be honest. Of course Gil Ofarim is a technically gifted musician. He has a great voice, quite a bit of talent and the charisma a rock musician needs to thrive on stage. The fact that he was unable to connect for a long time after his teenage pop music career was not due to his past history, as he himself repeatedly suspects, but simply to the fact that his understanding of rock music has always been merely the understanding of a standardized radio pop music scene aimed at a mass market. The version of rock music was. Smoothly polished productions without corners or edges, without friction points and yes, unfortunately you have to say that, on too many moments without real soul. This is music that is broadcast on the radio or is forever destined for the stages of the city folk festival.

The public speaks for itself. It is made up of 95 percent women, most of them over 40, mummy type or also type of women whose daily rhythm is clocked by breakfast television and VOX prime time evening programs. When the women hold up their phones to flash the flashlights and simulate the digital-present-lighter romance that Gil finds “beautiful,” their lock screens show pictures of themselves with their husbands, or of dogs, or of cats, or of babies. Only a few men wandered into the Kubana that evening.

One of them is very tall and very thin, wearing a full brown beard, earrings, long hair in a bun and holding a Becks. When Gil alludes to a song from his old band “Eight.” and the audience asks if they are also sure of the text here, the man, who is probably called Gregor, for such men are actually always called Gregor, raises his hands and spills little of his beer and shouts “But something like that! ” back. When the band plays the song, Georg doesn’t sing along. Occasionally he sips his beer and forms a chip fork with his fingers, the silent sign of a rock and roll community that doesn’t exist here.

Appearance is no longer self-evident, says Gil

It is 8:58 pm when Gil Ofarim thanks Jürgen, who is “in the back at the bar”. Jürgen is the promoter who had the courage to let Gil play in the Kubana, Gil says Jürgen didn’t really care what people said or wrote and he still let him perform here. That is no longer obvious, he says, referring to the media shit storm after the anti-Semitism incident. He, Gil, is very grateful to Jürgen for that. “Jürgen is the hero in our movie today,” Gil says, then he sings the song “The hero in our movie” and the women applaud Jürgen. It’s not entirely clear whether Jürgen is actually sitting at the bar or just isn’t there at all. The very fat woman forms a heart from her fingers and holds it in the air. And somehow it’s all beautiful and sad at the same time.

Because the people who came to Kubana tonight are people who probably don’t care about all this debate. The allegations. The counter-accusations. The heated media audience. It just doesn’t matter at all to these people here. What you really discover at a Gil Ofarim concert in the province of Bonn is Normaloschland. People who just listen to a few songs, drink a mojito or two – luckily they still do that in Siegburg – and want to have a nice evening, then go home and the next Monday at the office or in the Rewe behind the cash register Telling colleagues that they Friday night had a mojito, heard good songs and had a nice evening. Normaloschland people don’t care what someone writes about someone on Twitter or posts on Instagram.

Gil Ofarim was at the top from an early age. Then he fell very deep. He fought back and fell again. Now he has arrived here. In the normality of the German province. His next tour stops take him to Weinheim, Torgau and Memmingen. Is that what he really wanted or more than what he could have expected after the media mudslinging? No idea. He does not show himself behind the mask. The “Pierrot” in Gil Ofarim’s version, as he sings it, has tasted blood and drunk glory, ordered champagne and tasted asphalt. He leaves the stage before 11 p.m. The last bar in Siegburg had already closed and the last mojito had been drunk. And the headlights are already out.

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