Back to work

I’ve had a two week Christmas holiday but it really went by in a flash! Busy Christmas days, nice New Year’s Eve with friends and after that I thought I’d have all the time in the world to relax. That wasn’t quite the case. Went to IKEA for a new desk for Mr E’s work room that he shares with my daughter, the room then needed to be painted (which Mr E and my daughter did), I then helped organize everything there again. Also did my refugee volunteer work, my mom and sister needed help with stuff, cleared away Christmas things, got things organized in the house, etc. etc. It all kept me pretty busy.

On Saturday we finally got around to going on a day trip to a town called Bergen op Zoom, about an hour from where we live. I’d never been there before, but it was a sweet place…

Today it’s back to work. Luckily I get to start easy, with a cup of tea in a lovely mug beside me and a little time to blog. From tomorrow it gets very busy again.

2023 is also starting with some challenges in our little family, like Mr E still struggling with some stuff with work since the fall and verging on a full-blown burnout, which means he’s had to take a step back and re-construct things. Junior in the meantime has quit his sports management studies. He has decided that full time school is just not for him, mixing with 17-18 year old students and a university programme that does not live up to its promise. He does want to do something to better himself, so is now working a part time job and from February onwards will do university part time as well (he’s going to study marketing), where he can use his job for all the practical coursework that comes with it. Luckily I’m still happy with my job and mini me is doing well studying nursing, so there is that. Anyway, fingers crossed that everything works out OK for my two men!

I came across this little song today, which is so pretty and very fitting in a way. A good one to keep in mind, and a new artist for me to follow as I really like what this Rose Betts is doing. It’s all about silver linings…

Have a good start to the new year, everyone, with a little love in your life.

Concerts (and a musical) in November

November was a pretty busy theatre month for us this year! We hadn’t really planned it that way but it sort of happened.

David Bowie

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!

Effin’ effed

About a week ago I received my edition of Muse’s newest album Will of the People.

I rarely buy CD’s anymore as I tend to listen to music on Spotify instead but I made an exception for Muse as buying their CD from their site assured me a shot at trying to get tickets for their theatre concert in Amsterdam before the general sale opened up to everyone else. Alas, I wasn’t able to score tickets in the pre-sale or the general sale but, hey, I do have the CD now. I just saw they have added a new date in Den Haag for next year, I will try to get tickets to that concert instead; general sale starts on Friday.

Anyway, I finally got around to listening to the new CD in the car to and from work today. I already knew three of the songs, which I all like (especially Will of the People, but also Compliance and Won’t Stand Down). After hearing the rest of the songs, the new one I instantly liked best was this one. It will sound effin’ awesome if I ever get to hear it live!

Lyrics here, in case you can’t understand all of them. Muse bringing sing along end of the world doom, gloom and dystopia again like only they can. I’m in.

Summer holiday starts with Ed

It’s Saturday morning, 2.30 am and I should be going to bed but I first quickly wanted to post this.

Yesterday, Friday until about 2 pm, I was stressing to get all my work done before the start of my summer holiday and luckily I succeeded. To start off our holiday, leaving all work stress behind me, Mr Esther, Junior, Mini me and I went to see Ed Sheeran live in concert in Amsterdam! We left in the afternoon, had a quick dinner nearby the Amsterdam Arena stadium and then found our seats.

The concert really was great! It is so cool to see how one man with a guitar can take up a stage like that and manages to engage a crowd of 70.000 people so very well! His voice is great, his energy is great, the music was great and the visuals were so beautiful! He seemed to really love being in Amsterdam and seemed to really enjoy himself too, which also made the crowd enthusiastic. We really had such a good time. At the end he even changed into an orange shirt (orange of course being our national colour).

We made some videos at the concert but too tired now to upload them all and won’t have time in the near future as tomorrow we prepare and pack for our holiday and on Sunday we’ll be off. I did want to share these three videos, though.

The first one is of a newer song called The Joker and the Queen. Such a touching song, it brought tears to my eyes…

The second song I’m sharing is Thinking Out Loud and shows you how well Ed also engages the audience…

The third and final video I’m sharing was filmed while Ed was singing Photograph. There was a sign language interpreter below, signing every song. It was such a fascinating and beautiful thing to observe.

As an added bonus that really made us very happy, Mr E and I really loved watching our kids enjoy themselves so very much as well. It was a perfect family outing.

If you even remotely enjoy some of Sheeran’s music, I can only highy recommend going to a concert of his. As pop concerts go, these tickets really weren’t that expensive and they really are worth every penny.

Right, bed time! Not sure when I’ll be back online as Mr E and I head off on our first summer holiday alone together in 21 years on Sunday… 🙂

Ziggy is fifty!

One of my absolute favourite albums was released 50 years ago today, on June 16th, 1972. I think it is still pretty much the only album (apart maybe from Paul Simon’s Graceland) that I still love to listen to all the way through from the first to the last song.

To celebrate here are videos to the songs, in the same order as they appear on this album.

First off, number 1: Five Years. My fave lyrics section from the song:
I think I saw you in an ice-cream parlor
Drinking milk shakes cold and long
Smiling and waving and looking so fine
Don’t think you knew you were in this song
And it was cold and it rained, so I felt like an actor
And I thought of Ma and I wanted to get back there
Your face, your race, the way that you talk
I kiss you, you’re beautiful, I want you to walk

We’ve got five years, stuck on my eyes
Five years, what a surprise
We’ve got five years, my brain hurts a lot
Five years, that’s all we’ve got

Number 2: Soul Love. My fave lyrics section:
Love is careless in its choosing
Sweeping over cross and baby
Love descends on those defenseless
Idiot love will spark the fusion
Inspirations have I none
Just to touch the flaming dove
All I have is my love of love
And love is not loving

Number 3: Moonage Daydream. Fave lyrics section:
Press your space face close to mine, love
Freak out in a moonage daydream, oh yeah!

Number 4: Starman. My fave lyrics section from the song: oh, pretty much all of it! Here is most of it:
Didn’t know what time it was
The lights were low, oh, oh
I leaned back on my radio, oh, oh
Some cat was layin’ down some rock ‘n’ roll lotta soul, he said

Then the loud sound did seem to fade
Came back like a slow voice on a wave of phase
That weren’t no DJ
That was hazy cosmic trace

There’s a Starman waiting in the sky
He’d like to come and meet us
But he thinks he’d blow our minds
There’s a Starman waiting in the sky
He’s told us not to blow it
‘Cause he knows it’s all worthwhile
He told me
Let the children lose it
Let the children use it
Let all the children boogie

I had to phone someone, so I picked on you
Hey, that’s far out, so you heard him too!
Switch on the TV, we may pick him up on channel two
Look out your window, I can see his light
If we can sparkle, he may land tonight
Don’t tell your poppa or he’ll get us locked up in fright

Number 5: It Ain’t Easy. Fave lyrics from the song:
It ain’t easy, it ain’t easy
It ain’t easy to get to Heaven
When you’re going down

Number 6: Lady Stardust. Fave lyrics from the song:
Femme fatales emerged from shadows
To watch this creature fair
Boys stood upon their chairs
To make their point of view
I smiled sadly for a love
I could not obey
Lady Stardust sang his songs
Of darkness and dismay

Number 7: Star. Fave lyrics section:
So inviting, so enticing to play the part
I could play the wild mutation
As a rock & roll star
I could do with the money
I’m so wiped out with things as they are
I’d send my photograph to my honey – and I’d c’mon like
A regular superstar

Number 8: Hang Onto Yourself. Fave lyrics section:
We can’t dance, we don’t talk much, we just ball and play
Then we move like tigers on Vaseline
Well, the bitter comes out better on a stolen guitar
You’re the blessed, we’re the Spiders From Mars

Number 9: Ziggy Stardust. Fave lyrics section:
Making love with his ego
Ziggy sucked up into his mind, ah
Like a leper messiah
When the kids had killed the man
I had to break up the band

Now, Ziggy plaaaaaayed guitar.

Number 10: Suffragette City. Fave lyrics section (always makes me laugh somehow):
Oooooh, wham bam, thank you ma’am

And last but by no means least, number 11: Rock ‘n Roll Suicide. Probably my fave song on the album which has meant the most to me in my personal life. The whole lyric of this song is just awesome but my fave lyrics section (which even after hearing it soooo often can still make me cry) is:
Oh no love! you’re not alone
You’re watching yourself but you’re too unfair
You got your head all tangled up but if I could only make you care
Oh no love! you’re not alone
No matter what or who you’ve been
No matter when or where you’ve seen
All the knives seem to lacerate your brain
I’ve had my share, I’ll help you with the pain
You’re not alone

I think the line: “Hey, that’s far out!” (part of the Starman song) best typifies this album. It is weird and out there and the lyrics make you think and the music is aweome and it’s conceptually nothing like the world had ever seen before, I don’t think. I love love love this album and will cherish it forever. Happy 50th Birthday to Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars!