Hayarkon Park was transformed into a lavish Las Vegas showroom Tuesday night, as Madonna brought her Sticky&Sweet show to Tel Aviv for the first of two concerts marking the end of her world tour.
"Get up out of your seats," she commanded the crowd in the opening song, "Candy Shop," and the sold-out audience of 50,000 happily complied.
At one point in the show, Madonna said, "It's been 16 years since I played in Israel.
"Israel is the energy capital of the world," she continued.
By early in the afternoon the area surrounding the park had begun to take on a festive atmosphere, as hundreds of fans of the American icon waited outside the gate for the 5:30 p.m opening, in order to nab prime standing room.
"We are going to run straight to the stage," said Uriel, 26, from Ra'anana, who was waiting with a friend.
Orit, 32, from Holon, brought a pillow with her to ease the burden of the long wait.
It turned out the fans had to wait until 9:22 p.m., when Madonna and crew hit the stage to a sea of lit cellphones, following an innocuous 45-minute electro-dance mashup by DJ Paul Oakenfield.
Tour production manager Chris Lamb was right when he told reporters on Monday that Madonna didn't put on a rock concert, she put on a show.
A selection of career peaks led by a sinewy "Vogue," a funked-up "Into the Groove" and a booming "Holiday" put the crowd into the master artist's hands like putty.
She proved during her show that she has lost nary a step.
Madonna wraps up her worldwide tour with a final concert at Hayarkon Park on Wednesday night.
The 51-year-old entertainer claims a special bond with the Jewish state.
Local radio stations played Madonna songs through Tuesday.
Late on Monday, the diva dined with Kadima leader Tzipi Livni, at Madonna's request, Livni spokesman Gil Messing said.
Livni "was very impressed with Madonna and found her to be a very interesting person," said Messing, adding that the two decided to keep the content of their conversation private.
The opposition leader was one of the many VIPs to attend Madonna's concert last night.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is to host Madonna at his Jerusalem residence on Friday.
Madonna's previous two stops on the current tour, in Romania and Bulgaria, were marred by controversy.
In Bulgaria, Orthodox Church officials accused the singer of showing disrespect for Christianity.
Madonna's performances are a sign that Israel is becoming more attractive as a concert venue.