Last night saw the first of a run of seven concerts in the Ahoy, Rotterdam. A sell out crowd were full of enthusiasm and excitement as the lights dimmed and life stirred on stage. The atmosphere was electric and the crowd applauded wildly as the orchestra began its nights work starting with a spectacular overture accompanied by a dazzling light display.
Peter and Zoltan Katona are a charming and witty Hungarian guitar duo. The brothers alone at the front of the stage performed so amazing version of hit songs by the likes of Michael Jackson and Nirvana You could not help but join in the clapping of hands and stamping of feet. The pair of them looked so amazed to be there and everybody there embraced them, just so likeable, great entertainers.
Toots Thielemans, the Belgian born harmonica virtuoso is famed for his moody classic style. Most notable in Holland for his theme tune “Circle of smiles” for the Dutch detective series Baantjer. He has worked with such greats as Billy Joel, Paul Simon and Quincy Jones to name but a few. His medley of film scores went down a treat with everybody. My favourite was the tune from the movie “Midnight Cowboy.”
Sharon den Adel from nearby Waddinxveen was the singer who fronted the popular Dutch symphonic metal rock band Within Temptation and also fashion designer. Wow what a voice that woman has got. She sounds great; looks great and the visual effects of flames bursting from the floor gave it such an awesome dramatic effect. I am really surprised she isn’t a bigger star than she is.
By the time the English synth legends, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark came on stage the crowd were well and truly warmed up and ready to party. The audience recognized the early notes of their classic iconic 80’s hit “Maid of Orleans” and the place erupted into real party time. Everyone was up out of the seats clapping and getting in to the moment. It was so hard to believe that this was a song backed by the superb Il Novecento orchestra instead of an array of electronic wizardry; it was such a great interpretation and arrangement of a classic hit.
Andy McCluskey the main man of OMD threw himself heart and soul in to an amazing performance of wild dancing and exuberance. The crowd roared him on as his manic arms swung like crazed Dutch windmills in the evenings storms.
Paul Humphreys sang the beautiful “Souvenir” as the appreciative Ahoy swayed along in rhythm; getting their breaths back after Energy of “Maid of Orleans.” Two more songs of electro pop were belted out by Mr. McCluskey had the whole arena eating out of the palm of his hand. “Enola Gay” again got people on their feet dancing; it was now more like a real pop concert as the Ahoy rocked away.
As they walked off stage to a standing ovation, both Andy and Paul looked very happy with themselves and seemed quite shocked at the rapturous ovation they received as they left the stage.
Roxette took to the stage and were given the warmest welcome of the night. The fact that Roxette had had to cancel their previous tour with NOTP due to Maria Fredriksson’s well documented battle with a brain tumor, and that they had fulfilled an obligation to NOTP to perform was greeted by a crowd that offered thanks, warmth and love to Maria and Per Gessle. They played all their classic songs; “Joyride”, “The Look”, “Must have been love” and “Listen to your heart.” There was one thing that stood out for me as they sang, they looked to be having a lot of fun and just happy to be there. It is great to see a band actually looking as though they want to be there.
Then on stage for the grand finale came John Miles; famed for just one song throughout the entire world “Music.” He has played at NOTP for years and has a great following there.
In the past has worked along side Tina Turner a lot, as musical tour director and at times replacing Bryan Adam on her tours when the afore mentioned Mr. Adams could not attend. It was great to hear him play “Music” live; one of the all time great songs. At the end of that all the performers came on stage to receive bouquets and receive the wild adulation from the fans.
As the crowds left after the show, I asked a couple who were speaking English what they had thought. Michael and Jennifer from Ireland now living in The Hague were first time visitors. They said they are going to try and get back again this week for another show, as they had really loved it so much. Sam and Kathy from Rotterdam have been going for the last five years. They were grinning ear to ear and told me that they always go to at least two shows a year. They had never ever been disappointed by the performances. In their words; “You get your monies worth, three hours of great enjoyable fun for all, and we love it!”
Now finally I have to mention the all night entertainers on the stage, who without there would be no Night of the Proms.
Il Novecento has been the orchestra at NOTP since 1991. Well known throughout Europe for there diversity of styles covering everything though the last three centuries. They have also toured with the likes of Pavarotti, Bjork and Il Divo on the European legs of large world tours. I have to say, the passion and energy they put in to their performance is mind blowing and actually exhilarating to watch.
The backing choir, Fine Fleur started together back in 1995 and are fifty strong. As with Il Novecento, their way of backing so many famous songs of different genres was faultless. It seemed always that they had actually appeared on the original recordings, did not sound odd, weird or out of place.
I had really enjoyed myself, and am in fact returning there again this coming Sunday to enjoy the spectacle from a different perspective than that of having being at the very front carrying cameras, to sitting near the back to relax and absorb it all properly. I really strongly suggest that you try to go along. There are still a few tickets available for the upcoming shows. Trust me, you won’t regret going, it really is fun filled, entertaining, spectacular and friendly night! What also impressed me is the fact that when it was all over and I looked back on it, there was not one single part of it that I thought “Nah, could have done without that bit.” A true 100% success!!!
Please, if you go to any of the shows in Rotterdam, please let me know what you thought of it all. As I want to do a follow up on the Night of the Proms at a later date.
Ticket hotline 0900 45 000 45
By Neal McClimon