November was a pretty busy theatre month for us this year! We hadn’t really planned it that way but it sort of happened.
First off, on Friday, the 4th of November, Mr Esther and I went to a David Bowie tribute concert in Rotterdam. It had been postponed twice due to Covid, but finally the time came and we went. Scroll through some pictures of the concert under this link, if you like and here are some (not so great ones) from me…
The Bowie songs were sung by three different artists: one woman and two men. One of the male singers actually sounded uncannily like Bowie at times, so he was my fave! It was really cool hearing the songs (and for me being able to sing along to all of them). Here’s a video someone took of the three singers doing Heroes:
And Let’s Dance, which gives an idea of the singer who sounded most like Bowie:
Downside to the concert was that there was a narrator present. At the beginning and in between songs he spoke of Bowie’s life and a bit about the impact Bowie had had on him. The text in itself was fine but it took the rhythm out of the evening when after almost every song or every other song the music stopped because the narrator was telling us something. It was really distracting and annoyed me. Also, they chose to play each song to the absolute last note where I felt that for some blocks it would have been better if the songs had flowed into each other more. The singing and music were good, though (it’s always great to hear Bowie’s music!), so that counted for a lot, but the show alas didn’t wow me.
Soldier of Orange
Next, on Sunday afternoon November 12th, my whole family (including my siblings, their families and my mother) went to a Dutch musical. My mother had arranged it (with help of my sister) for the occasion of her 87th birthday. It was also for my sister’s 60th and my younger brother’s 49th.
The musical is called Soldaat van Oranje (Soldier of Orange) and is a dramatized personal true story of resistance and collaboration during the Second World War in The Netherlands, with the resistance fighters even going to London to assist Queen Wilhelmina (in exile) in her efforts. It was also a popular Dutch film from the late 1970s, even nominated for a Golden Globe at the time. A hangar on an unused airfield near Leiden has been turned into a theatre, just for this musical, which has been running here in The Netherlands for 12 years(!!) now.
The musical aspect of it was…meh… but the staging of it was spectacular! The theatre is in the round and the audience sits in the middle on a rotating plateau…
… and gets turned towards the different sets where a scene is played. There are also really nice digital displays, showing images of the time and the costumes and set design are truly great. There is an actual sandy beach with water on one set and, at the end of the musical, the outside, where an actual old Dakota airplane is parked, is opened up as an additional set for a scene with Queen Wilhelmina returning to The Netherlands after the war. You get a bit of an idea of all of that in this trailer for the show…
Some pictures I took from the programme booklet. (click on images to enlarge).
The songs and music were forgettable (maybe it would have been better as a play?), but the story was quite exciting and the visuals and the staging were truly outstanding!
Chris de Burgh
Last, but not least: Mr Esther and I went to see Chris de Burgh two weeks ago on Tuesday, November 15th. A few months ago I read that he was coming to Amsterdam at the Carré theatre for a concert. In my early teens I used to love Chris de Burgh, he was very popular in Germany at the time (which was where I was then living). His big hit gift to the world was Lady in Red, which for me, alas, was the beginning of the end of my De Burgh admiration. I never liked that song much and the most of what I heard from him after felt downhill from what he had made in the 70s and early 80s. So, I stopped listening to him but when I saw this concert announced and it said he’d be playing from his whole body of work, I figured I’d give it a shot, for nostalgia’s sake.
Mr E and I made our way to Amsterdam, which was looking pretty, despite it being wet out. In the picture on the left, the theatre is on the left bank in the distance (with red light on the roof).
I had booked the tickets months ago but had forgotten that I had apparently booked front row seats. In hindsight I remember I had tickets for balcony front row seats in my online basket but then saw two final actual front row tickets for the same price and Mr E said, “Book those, then”! So, front row at the theatre it was. Oh, and maybe not surprisingly, we heard a fair amount of German fans around us.
As you can see the set up was simple, just a piano and a guitar. De Burgh came on, started singing standing at the mike and with his guitar. He seems like a very soft-spoken man, from the way he spoke inbetween the songs.
Not long after he started the concert, he set himself down at the piano and that’s when I had a personal Chris De Burgh – Esther interaction! As he sat down at the piano, I had to strain a bit to see him, as my view was obstructed by the guitar in its stand and the glasses of water on the piano. He must have seen me shift a little because before he started playing, he suddenly got up again from the piano, wordlessly walked to the guitar stand and moved it to the side a little. He then walked back to the piano, moved the water glasses and sat down again. He looked me straight in the eye from his seat behind the piano, tilted his head questioningly at me and patiently waited for my reaction. It was only then that I realized he really must have done all that moving of stuff for my benefit! I raised my two thumbs in the air and grinned my approval at him. He smiled back (he hadn’t said a word during all of this), the audience tittered and he then started to play. Pretty cool. 🙂 (Picture below taken by Mr E who sat to the right of me).
The concert itself was nice (although it was a pity he didn’t have a backing band; some songs were sung to a backing track) and his voice is still good too. I didn’t know any of the newer songs but everything that he played from the 1970s and 1980s was familiar to me and I really enjoyed hearing him sing live. At the end of the concert everyone was encouraged to stand and come forward and then at the very end he walked by the front row of people (including us) and shook hands. Mr E tried to get a picture but it didn’t really work, we only have a picture from right before the handshake (his hand felt very soft, by the way).
The newer songs didn’t convince me to become a fan again (and alas, he did not skip Lady in Red) but Chris sang and played well and it was really lovely to hear some of the old songs that I used to love like Spanish Train, A Spaceman Came Travelling, Waiting for the Hurricane, Borderline, The Ferryman and High on Emotion. It was nice to be out with Mr E as well, and after the concert we went out for a drink before driving home again.
So there you have it, our month of concerts. Well, semi-month, really, as it all happened in the first half of November (and I just didn’t get around to posting about them earlier). It’s been fun!