Muse in Nijmegen

This past week the date of June 27th was boldly highlighted in my calendar: Muse was coming for an open air concert to the Goffertpark in Nijmegen in the east of the Netherlands and I would be there! The same park I saw Eminem in last year and David Bowie oh so many years ago in the early 1990s. Tickets had already been purchased last fall and I was going with my lovely friend Suzy from the Silverbluelining blog, we were meeting up there.

Fast forward to last Tuesday, two days before the Muse concert. I was leaving work late because I was meeting two friends of mine for the cinema to see Rocketman (I did end up seeing it, despite what happened next, and really liked it). As I tucked away my metrocard I missed the last step of the stairs and crashed to the ground, twisting my ankle quite badly, so badly that for a minute or so I couldn’t stand. First thought flashing through my head was, “NOOOO! What about Muse on Thursday??!!??”  Long story short, ice pack on my ankle when I got home later that evening didn’t help much, doctor said I needed to have x-rays the next day but in the end luckily nothing broken.  However the ankle was thick and painful enough to need extra support and I could barely stand on it.

So yes, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to go to the long awaited Muse concert! Only standing places for that concert and there was no way I could stand for two hours during the concert and all the time leading up to that. Then Mr. Esther came to the rescue. My hero! He wasn’t going to the concert but offered to take the afternoon off work to drive me there (a little over an hour away from where I live) and borrow my mother-in-law’s wheelchair (she only needs it occasionally). My older sister ended up coming to the concert with me as well (she’d also bought a ticket a while back and the person she was going with canceled at the last minute). Downside to these changed plans was that I couldn’t spend as much time with Suzy before the concert as I had wanted to.

The weather on Thursday was gorgeous: blue skies, mid 20 degrees Celsius, perfect weather for an open air concert. We finally arrived at the Kiss & Ride spot near the venue at just after 5.30 pm (drive had taken 2 hours due to traffic jams!) where Suzy was awaiting us. My sister and Suzy took turns pushing me in my wheelchair to the concert grounds. I’m forever grateful to them and to Mr Esther for bringing me there! I could stand and hobble about for short amounts of time, so that was something.

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We had a nice bite to eat at the venue and then went in search of a spot to enjoy the concert from. As I was in my wheelchair for most of the time we figured in the end it would be pointless for me to watch from the field, I’d be too small to be able to see anything. So, we found the wheelchair platform and there was enough space left over for me to have a spot there as well. The down side was that only one other person was allowed to accompany me there. Suzy came with me first and later changed places with my sister as she preferred to watch the concert in the crowd, and rightly so. The park filled up with some 66.000 people (I was told by another guy there). This slideshow shows some crowd overviews before the concert started, taken from the spot I was at:

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Andy Burrows, the second opening act, was good. He used to be part of a band called Razorlight with which he had scored this hit called America. Then, at just before 9 pm, Muse finally took the stage. And yes, yet again, I loved the concert from its first beat! The music is always excellent, the singing is always excellent and the show they give is always great too. Here some pictures, mostly screenshots from some short videos I took (click on images to enlarge):

The great part of being on the wheelchair podium is that the view is good, the downside is that wheelchair people (at least at this concert) don’t sit-dance that much. This means that I, and also my sister, were probably the most active hands in the air, fist bumpers and clappers there. Also, lots of coming and going on that platform which was somewhat distracting. Next time, I think I’d prefer to be in the crowd. 🙂 Nonetheless, I enjoyed the concert immensely with neon lights and laser lights and dancers with lightsabers and silver plated suits. Here is one of their most famous songs that someone filmed, Uprising, at the beginning of the concert…

… and a video of when a huge creature emerged on stage near the end of the concert…

Anyway, when Knights of Cydonia started playing (traditionally always their last song at concerts), I was bummed it was almost over. The crowd went wild (yet again) with that last song, it’s always a total crowd pleaser, but alas, Muse really was done after it ended.

We met up with Suzy after the concert and I was glad to hear that she had enjoyed it immensely as well! It was her first Muse concert, and my 4th or 5th, but I have a feeling there will be more Muse concerts for Suzy and me in our future. 🙂 And we need to meet up again extra to catch up some more as we didn’t get around to enough of that this time around. Muse in September in Amsterdam, Suzy? Might be tough, though, with that concert already sold out and my finances a little depleted, but we’ll see…

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The London BTS weekend

My daughter and her friend are fans of the Korean pop band BTS and last weekend we were in London so the girls could go to their concert. It was stressful getting tickets a few months ago, but two tickets were secured and the girls were very excited to go. As a fangirl myself I was well able to empathize with their enthusiasm for BTS. 🙂

We flew to London from Amsterdam early on Friday morning. The girls wanted a pancakes breakfast (my daughter is the one with the ponytail)…

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… after which we boarded the plane and arrived at London Luton airport before we knew it. Took the bus to my brother’s house in Hampstead and met up with him and my niece. The weather was turning out to be gorgeous, so we had a picnic lunch in my brother’s garden!

The girls had heard that there would be some sort of BTS event at Piccadilly Circus at 6 pm, so we all went into town. We shopped a bit, then my brother and niece headed home again (my niece was leaving for the weekend to see her mum) and I went to Piccadilly Circus with the girls.  We got there just before 5.30 pm and it was crowded, as illustrated by these two tweets!

And also illustrated by my pictures:

As I can’t upload videos here, I made 3 gifs from a video I made of the crowd while we were waiting:

The fans are called “Army” (yeah, not the Armitage Army, though) and the atmosphere at Piccadilly was electric. Excited people, BTS chants, BTS singing and dancing. This tweet, while not filmed perfectly, does show you the joyful mood. It was filmed not far off from were the girls and I were standing.

Busses drove by and every time an open roof tourist bus passed, everyone started cheering and clapping and waving at the people on the bus, who were waving back at us. Someone on a bus filmed our crowd HERE and if you know where to look you can even spot me in the crowd with my sunglasses on. Anyway, at 6 pm on the dot a Hyundai commercial showed on the big screen, featuring BTS and everyone started screaming.  The girls were very pleased to see their favourites up on that huge screen.

OK, yeah, so it was much ado, apparently only about a commercial, but still it was really fun to be there. We watched the commercial on loop a few times and then left. As Wembley Stadium is on the same underground line as the station near my brother’s house, the girls on the way home decided to go on to Wembley and check out the merchandise store there before it closed at 8pm. My daughter sent me a picture of herself walking underneath the huge poster of her fave BTS member, if I recall correctly that is Jungkook…

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They bought tour t-shirts there and then came back home. Good thing they did, because the next day, on Saturday, they ventured into the city alone to find several BTS pop up stores. The one store had a  6 hour queue, the other store a 3,5 hour queue! They didn’t stand in line but did look on in amazement and also got to explore the city a bit on their own.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch (i.e. my brother’s house), we spent a quiet morning at home as I had come down with a bad cold. But I didn’t want to waste my whole time in London with sickness so I looked into theatre tickets (preferably matinee) for my brother and I.  I could have gone to see Hugh Jackman again as he was in London with his show for the weekend and I could have gone to see Muse do their concert on Saturday as well.  But, as tempted as I was, I’ve already seen the Hugh show (although, if I had a money-tree I would have gone to see him again) and I’m seeing Muse here in The Netherlands in a few weeks. In the end I was able so score last minute tickets to see The Book of Mormon at the Prince of Wales Theatre, not far from Piccadilly. All I knew about the musical is that is has won many awards, is supposed to be funny, concerns itself with the Mormon religion and I had seen this video of the opening number…

So, on Saturday afternoon my brother and I were at the theatre, wondering what exactly was going to come our way.

… and boy, did we have a blast! I realize that the Mormon religion and Uganda, where the Mormons are sent to in the musical, are stereotyped and the language really is quite filthy at times but it was so very funny! We laughed all the way and when in the second half of the musical the Ugandan Mormons portray how they have come to understand the religion (due to very ‘creative’ missionizing from Elder Cunningham), I swear tears were running down my cheeks. It’s best not to reveal too much about this musical but if you like a spoof on taking religion literally that also doesn’t completely bash religion and is funny and uplifting, then go and watch this. I loved it.

Sunday was BTS day for the girls. My niece was back home again for a few hours before having to head back to her boardingschool, so we all went out to lunch. First time I ever ate a falafel burger, but it was good! At the end of the afternoon I accompanied the girls to Wembley, just so that I could see the venue for myself. The girls were wearing their new tour t-shirts proudly.

What I completely love about the BTS crowd is the diversity. People from all walks of life, all nationalities, all backgrounds were there, more diversity than I’ve ever seen in a pop or rock crowd. So cool! Dropped the girls off at the gate, I planned on going into the city afterwards but was feeling pretty bad so headed to my brother’s place instead. He was still out, driving his daughter to school. I curled up on the couch with a cup of tea and the last scone that was still in the house…

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Switching through the channels I saw that The Battle of the Five Armies was on, so I watched that…

… then watched and chatted with my brother after he came home. We waited for the girls, who came home at around 11.30 pm, totally exhausted and totally euphoric about the concert. Near the end of the concert the fans had a surprise for BTS, where the whole crowd chanted one of their songs back at them. My daughter said that they had teared up as well at that moment…

… and they so want to see BTS in concert again. Apparently they announed they’d be coming again next year.

On Monday morning we all slept in. My brother was working from home, he took us out to lunch before we made our way to the airport again for our fliight back home. I had been less productive on my weekend due to not feeling well (and I’m still sick now, ugh!) but still had fun and the girls had a blast – the full BTS experience for them! It’s been so fun to see them fangirl. 🙂

Cool! ‘We’ win!

The Netherlands has won the Eurovision Song Contest for the fiirst time in 44 years!

The song was a bookmaker favourite to win but of course you never know whether you can trust that. We always watch the Eurovision Song Contest every year (kinda, while multi-tasking on laptops and ipads and phones). Winning, even if there are so very many iffy songs, still is a huge deal. This has been one of the better Dutch entries of the past years..

… and even though I haven’t been following all of this hullaballoo closely at all, I’ve got to admit to being stoked about a Dutch win!

Duncan Eurovision

Congratulations, Duncan Laurence!

A blanket of joy over 15.000 people

Last night my friend, my sister, her girlfriend and I went to Amsterdam to see Hugh Jackman on stage in his show The Man, The Music, The Show.

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I knew what to expect from YouTube films I had seen from some years ago of Hugh doing such a show in Australia but what I wasn’t quite prepared for was the blanket of love and joy that one man was able to spread out over an audience of 15.000 people. It helps if you like the musical numbers he performs but I imagine that even if you don’t like the music, the joy just emanates anyway and is irresistible. Hugh Jackman really loves doing this.

The show opened with images of iconic Hugh Jackman film moments set to the opening beat of the song The Greatest Show, followed by a full on energetic performance of that song and the following song Come Alive by Hugh and his crew. I tried to take pictures with my phone but the quality isn’t great (some of these are snapshots from videos I took that aren’t great quality either, you can click on the pictures to enlarge them).

He proceeded to welcome the audience, telling us in one Dutch sentence that he couldn’t speak Dutch. He tried to pronounce Dutch town names in song, very quickly, which cemented the connection to his audience. He looked at an audience member and commiserated with him being there as there would be no Wolverine in this (“it’ll be a long 2 hours for you”). He was present, knows where he’s at, acknowledges what’s happening around him and engages the audience with humour. He then started to tell stories of his youth and the beginning of his careeer. He sang the Gaston song from Beauty and the Beast, which had been his first musical role. The joy with which he performs this is just infectious.

Someone filmed it and put it on YouTube…

He spoke so lovingly about his wife Deb and his kids, it was heartwarming and there were ‘aw’s coming from the audience. He sang a song that that had been sung at their wedding (The Way You Look Tonight). In the pictures I took Hugh is mostly a blob of light but luckily that was not how we actually saw him when he performed. It’s just tough getting good pictures with all the effects lighting, but it does give you a sense of the atmosphere.

Pictures taken off the screen were better…

Before the intermission there was a Les Miserables section with a medley of Valjean’s Soliloquy / I Dreamed a Dream / One Day More. Especially in the soliloquy Hugh showed that he was not just singing a song, he was also acting the role and became Jean Valjean for a little bit, which made the performance extra powerful. The man was giving everything.

After the intermission he became Peter Allen, The Boy From Oz, a role that had earned him a Tony Award.

That was a really fun segment where he went into the audience and picked up a guy to dance with him on stage. The guy’s girlfriend was asked up as well, Hugh couldn’t pronounce her name ‘Maartje’ but he did kiss her “94” times on her cheeks as that is how Dutch people greet each other (“when you meet someone in Holland it’s like you’re married!”). Hugh referenced one of the moments during this segment on Twitter last night:

The segment ended with a spectacular show with among others the song I Go To Rio

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He then sat down to sing the Peter Allen ballad Tenterfield Saddler beautifully…

… and that was followed by an absolutely captivating performance of A Million Dreams (another song from The Greatest Showman). A dancer performed the song in sign language and dance, Hugh joined in beautifully and at the end (not filmed anywhere that I could see) Hugh received a standing ovation. I couldn’t film the standing ovation myself because I was clapping my heart out but I did film the performance (and film doesn’t quite do it justice, it felt more special live).

Hugh received his standing ovation after the song graciously, he looked a little emotional during it, you could see him savouring the moment. (MTA that I have now indeed found a clip of Hugh receiving his standing ovation and being somewhat emotional HERE).

There then came a Broadway segment (with Singin’ in the Rain for instance)…

… and a beautiful sequence with an Aboriginal group of singers that ended in a lovely rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

There was a tap dance and drums sequence and at the end of that Hugh did do a Wolverine growl, to the delight of the crowd. I didn’t get a good shot, this is the best I have, where he used his drumming sticks for the claws. The body language totally says Wolverine!

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He did From Now On, my fave song from The Greatest Showman, and everyone was up on their feet for that.

The final song was a Peter Allen song called Once Before I Go. This last song became a little special as it contained a brief second or two of my ‘personal’ Hugh-encounter! By this time the audience (including my friend and I) had been swaying along to several songs with the phone lights on, this song was no exception. I heard later that my sister and her girlfriend, who were sitting elsewhere, had joined in with the lights as well.

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Anyway, my friend and I said to each other that when Hugh turned our way again, we’d stop the soft rhythmic swaying of our phones and we’d just wave our lights madly at him to say ‘hi’. We did just that and, lo and behold, he registered us and he waved right back at us! I found a video of this exact moment on YouTube, filmed by someone who must have been sitting not too far off from where we were sitting. At 1:28 – 1:30 minutes into the video you can see Hugh registering something, he gives a little smirk and then he waves right at us, in the same rhythm as we are waving our phone lights at him.

There was no way he could have really seen us, but he had seen our lights and he had answered our greeting with a greeting of his own. That’s awesome, right? Yeah, had to screen cap that… this is Hugh saying hello to my friend and me!

The only down side to this concert was that after this song, Hugh was immediately gone, the big lights went up and it was all over. But what a glorious evening we had had!

So, yeah, I did have to buy a tour book as a keepsake. The merch prices are always a little steep, but I just couldn’t resist it…

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If there is one thing to admire about Hugh Jackman it is that he knows how to live in the moment. He is very present and focused, reacts to what happens around him, he is joyful and exudes pleasure in what he does. He has a huge heart that he is able to openly share with thousands of people at a time and because of that everyone opens their hearts to him in return. He has done and will be doing this show many, many times with the same stories and jokes and songs and yet it feels fresh and new, as if he is performing it the first time in full just for you. It is amazing that you are in a stadium with 15.000 other people and yet somehow the man seems to be speaking to you. He can spread love and joy and make you feel special and that makes Hugh Jackman a special kind of man.


MTA – I have now also compiled a playlist of the evening:

A cheer-me-up post

I need some cheering up after another attack took place yesterday, this time in Utrecht which is about half an hour away from where I live. When will this killing end?!?

Anyway… so, this cheered me up yesterday (before I knew about the Utrecht attack) and still cheers me up today: Richard finding his old Guy of Gisborne leathers!

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Look what I just found in an old washing bag 😮

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Yup!!!

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(I for one would be curious to see those episode 1 North & South scribbles!).

Then, last night, to cheer myself up after I switched off the news, I finally finished a video I had started making a long time ago but had never gotten around to finishing yet. It’s a fan video for the not so known but in my eyes absolutely wonderful Danish film starring Pierce Brosnan called Love Is All You Need. The Danish original title is way better: Den Skaldede Frisør (which translates to The Bald-Headed Hairdresser). The film is full of heart without being sappy and you can see a trailer here. I made another video for this film a few years ago which can be found near the bottom of my Pierce Brosnan fan video page, along with a brief description of what the movie is about. I needed to do something with love, after all the hatred of the past few days, and this video is all about that (set to John Denver’s Annie’s Song). When I heard that John Denver song again a few months back somewhere, suddenly images of this movie flashed through my head when I listened to the lyrics. So, the video begged to be made and now I have finally finished it. Beware that, if you haven’t seen the film and you still wish to do so, this video is full of spoilers!

And last but not least today, while I was having lunch on my own for a change, eating a delicious falafel in town close to my office, I happened upon this little gem of a video. It’s a choir flash mob on an airplane, by the choir that also sang at Harry’s and Meghan’s wedding last year. I’ve seen it before but this time it gave me goosebumps.

I guess we can all use a little solidarity and a feeling of people standing by each other.

It’s good to know there is also a lot of good in this world.