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2005-09-16.17 Haarlem

 

I am kind of paranoid about morning flights. Why, I do not know, because I have never missed one as of yet, but of course there were several alarm clocks and mobile alarms set for 6 am this past Friday again… And what a nice feeling to catch the LUAS like every other day, but knowing this time it's not for going to the office but to head for the airport and the Netherlands instead!!!

 

Flying to Amsterdam takes only a little more than an hour, and it was a very pleasant and enjoyable flight. From Schiphol airport, it only took about 20 minutes to get to Haarlem by bus, and another 10 by cab to my hotel. It was right in the town center of this adorable little town, and Anja was already there. So we took right off and walked along the shopping area, and along the canals, and finally over to the train station to collect Alexandra. Back at the hotel, we met with Cassie and Moni, so we were quite a merry group of five already for dinner.

 

As we had found out earlier, our hotel was just around the corner from the Philharmonie, very convenient, so we only needed a few minutes to get over there and meet with Rianne and Belinda at approximately 9.30. Still at least an hour to go - so we decided to have a drink at the venue, and then gathered in front of the smaller hall's door, behind which the concert was to take place. And it was a long wait - as it was a Celtic Festival, the second concert had to wait for the first one to be finished, and by 10.30 Dervish was still playing. It was after 11 that the door was finally opened, and we took our seats. Unfortunately, spending the Friday night at a Celtic Festival did not seem to appeal to many people, and there was only a very small audience. Still, this did not prevent the lads from creating that special, blitheful atmosphere and soon everybody was clapping or even singing along.

 

They did start off with "Star of the County Down", followed by "Caledonia" and "Wild Rover". And they actually never got around to introducing themselves - I think they wanted to, but got sidetracked by Matthew's shoelace being open and some banter going back and forth until this was fixed. What they did mention - several times in fact! - was their new CD, which was on sale in the lobby. Dear Frans, the bus driver who had been present during the last Dutch tour as well, took care of that! On they went with "You raise me up" and James in the role of Samantha Mumba. And there were various comments and cheers about this in the audience, of course! And as the audience was so small, they also did "Fionnghuala" without any technical support - no mikes. Always very much appreciated! After "Spanish Lady", Deirdre joined the lads on stage for "Nella Fantasia" and her unique "Once in a very blue moon", before they all did "Libbiamo" together.

 

At some stage around this time (would not remember after exactly which song), the lads gave a promotional CD away to the first person who could estimate David's age. Hm. Watch out, everybody, the day might come on which they ask for their own age, or their combined age, make sure we get the correct answers then here in this forum!

 

The next song on the list was "Non Siamo Isole", followed by "Here, there and everywhere". I remember I heard it for the first time in Ballyroan, but I have to say, it's getting dearer and dearer to me! "Whiskey in the jar" was then followed by "Remember me", and much to soon it was "Time to say goodbye". Well, pretty easy on the Friday night, knowing that there was still the Saturday to follow! And of course, there was still the encore in person of Phil!

 

What followed was one of the longest, and most relaxed, meet and greets I can remember. Everyone was very cheerful, the lads were standing in the vast lobby at bistro tables and people were wandering from here to there, talking to all of them, while Frans sold CD after CD at the merchandise stall. They also took lots of time for pictures and we had a truly brilliant time! Our Dutch members had brought some presents which were greatly appreciated… and we actually only left the Philharmonie when the staff threatened to lock us in. On to a café around the corner from the hotel for a nightcap… and we retreated to our rooms around 2 am.

 

Now, our hotel was directly on Haarlem's biggest square, which is also the place for the weekly market stalls. And the market is on Saturdays. So by 4 am, I was actually wondering what those people were doing outside, and did we have some kind of military training going on, or something similar. It did not help one bit that Anja turned to me and asked what were those people doing outside - while she was fast asleep! Quite unfair, as I found it difficult to get back to sleep with all the activity in front of the hotel, and she can actually speak without waking up!

Once the market was in full swing the next morning, it was quite nice and we spent quite some time to look through all the different things on offer! Saturday was also the day of John's arrival, and all of us did their share of shopping as well as sightseeing in town, so before we knew we were sitting down for dinner again, and after a while it was time to leave for the Philharmonie. On Saturday, Mary Black was on before the Celtic Tenors, and she did attract a greater crowd.

Many of those people had combined tickets, and it was a Saturday night after all, so there was a considerably bigger audience for the Celtic Tenors.

Rianne has already mailed the tracklist, so there is no need to repeat it. I would actually only like to comment on one thing - or place one request - for future tracklist composition. Please guys, "Whiskey in the jar" is a no-no after "Angel of Mercy". I am of the weepy kind - so were the people right and left of me, for the matter - and as usual, "Angel of Mercy" was so beautiful that we were still kind of dazed when you were already in the middle of "Whiskey in the jar". Nothing against that song but just… maybe it's better to give the people a little more time to get back to earth and collect their thoughts?

The meet and greet on Saturday night was another very cheerful affair, and that was very much appreciated.

Sunday then was the day of goodbyes. Moni left very early so we did not even see her in the morning - Moni, I hope you had a safe trip home. Cassie went back to her hometown by car, so we had to say goodbye after having breakfast together. Then Anja and Alexandra took their train around noon, which left John and me at Schiphol for lunch, before we had to part and catch our flights to London and Dublin, respectively. But it was good to meet everyone and to get to know each other - and get two fabulous concerts into the bargain!

And now it's over to you in North America for the next round of concert reports!