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2006-04-28 Eindhoven

reviewed by John

 

I can see that my friends have explained most of what we saw on Friday, so I'll fill in the few gaps that occur to me.

 

Unfortunately, it did (typically) turn much cooler just in time for the sounds check, and we found Niall sitting on the corner of the stage looking frozen.

There does not seem to have been much mention of the orchestra, the other performer, or the other material, so here goes:

 

The orchestra was 80 strong, and in the main, magnificent. (I say in the main, because I think there were one or two moments when synchronisation was perhaps not perfect, but bearing in mind that they were dressed up (not muffled up like us) and must have had numb fingers, they were extraordinary. They started with 'War of the worlds', which require spot on timing, and on this number they did achieve it. They also performed the Andre Rieu waltz which Bettina mentioned, and that was stunning. The highlight from them for me, however, was their 'Lord of the dance', which builds in tempo and crescendo throughout. By the time they were in the home straight, a number of people in my immediate vicinity were making minimal foot movements to keep in time - hoping probably that no-one would notice - think again!!!! Such uplifting music cannot and should not be wasted anyway. The orchestra's piece de resistance (not musically, and they'd be completely unknowing) came during the performance of what I know as 'Land of hope and glory', Elgar's 'Pomp and Circumstance'. I was amazed to hear the English words being sung behind me, and found a Dutch teacher of English who obviously sings this as his party piece. Just about everyone else was singing Dutch words, which are evidently an anthem for PSV Eindhoven, the local (and very famous in Europe) soccer team.

 

The other performer, of whose name I have no idea, whistles. He is apparently the world champion. It sounds silly, but honestly, his talent is amazing. One of the numbers he 'played' along with the orchestra was Vivaldi, very typical Vivaldi bouncing up and down the scales incredibly quickly, and the man hits every note completely true. Truly amazing.

 

And then the people we all came to see. I have another artiste I go to see regularly, and when she performs outdoors, there's always a different feel to the proceedings. On this occasion, unlike at their own shows, the CTs were not really in a position to banter with the audience to the extent they normally would, and of course the programme was shorter than would normally be the case, but it was very nice indeed to witness new pieces being performed. The Beatles medley was Niall singing 'Yesterday', James singing 'When I'm 64', and Matthew singing 'Hey Jude'. There were very subtle and convention backing vocals throughout, and it was one of the finer modern interpretations I have seen them perform. 'Anthem' always makes me emotional - the sentiments are often lost these days, when patriotism isn't always to the fore, and it is definitely one of those 'Tier 1' tenor pieces for me - the harmonies are superb, and the orchestra was magnificent on this number. The highlight of the whole evening for me, I must say, was James' solo during 'Nessun Dorma'. It is obvious he has a conventionally classical style to his singing, and I tend to prefer hearing him in the lower registers (i.e. outside the 'let's impress' range); but if he ever sang a tune better than he sang his part in that piece on Friday, I can only say that it would be to my endless regret. Truly stunning delivery. I was not alone in thinking that, either. I am not, I am afraid to say, a great fan of Queen's music (that's me off one potential Christmas card list in a flash), but their rendition of 'We are the champions', which I thought a really odd choice, gives me the chance to mention how deeply Matthew and Niall (who of course introduced the number) got into the spirit of the song. You don't always get to see just how liberating it is for them to sing at full power without having to pay intricate attention to the notes - this song gave both of them the opportunity to interpret and embellish the melody as they felt it; very nice indeed, and very powerful.

 

BUT, it would be criminal to omit mention of 'America' from West Side Story. Again, another very unusual choice for tenors, but this was the fun part of the evening. With a capital F. There are no high notes to impress with, and actually, of course, there are not really any long notes either. So what you do is use your personality. So now we have 3 Irish Puerto Ricans to admire. Chita Rivera, Rita Moreno, and whoever the third actress was they are not, and frankly I felt a little flamboyant dancing might have carried the evening better. But this was hugely entertaining, not least trying to decipher the various heavily accented asides which peppered the whole thing. Whilst we understood that there was some nervousness in advance of the performance, that should have dissipated long ago. A truly fantastic number to include - I don't think a few more show tunes would come amiss.

 

A few final mentions. I started to speak to a Dutch lady at around the interval time - she wanted to know what time they finished singing because she had her last train at 9.30. Suffice to say that she went away and booked herself a hotel room so as not to miss anything. She has been to CT concerts before in Holland, so if she shows up during next year's tour, I hope she makes herself known again.

And finally, as has been said previously. What a delight to meet old friends and make new acquaintances.