Last Thursday night, Karel and I got an e-mail from Aart, saying that he had one spare ticket for a special show in Den Bosch the following night, and the one of us who would react first, would get it. Turned out Karel reacted before I did, but luckily for me, Karel wasn’t able to go :).
On the phone, Aart told me that the show had something to do with Tim Rice, that Steve Balsamo would perform two songs there, and that it was a private show; there was no information to be found about it on the theatre’s website or anywhere else.
It was only at around 4pm on Friday that Aart got word that the show would start that night at 7:30. When he mailed me, I immediately went home from the university, and ate quickly so I could get the train at 6:30. I arrived at the theater at about 7:00. Aart had already phoned me at 6:40, while I was still in the train, that he would be late, because of heavy traffic. It gave me a chance to watch the guests come in, which was quite a show in itself. Taxi after taxi came, and two lackeys in very lackey-ish outfits were there with umbrellas to escort the guests from their cars via the red carpet to the theatre’s entrance, so their expensive clothes wouldn’t get rained on.
In the mean time it became 7:25, 7:30, 7:35 … still taxis came in, but no Aart. The guests apparently had traffic trouble as well, they still kept coming until 7:40 or 7:45. For several moments, I enjoyed the irony that many of these rich people in their expensive cars were late, while I, merely a poor student arriving partly by public transportation and partly on foot, was early :).
At about 7:45, Aart arrived. We went in and Aart retrieved our tickets. He then made a phonecall to Steve Balsamo announcing our presence. We had a chat with some of the ladies who were tending the foyer, and learned that Steve wouldn’t be on until after the break, which was a big relief for us :).
Since Aart hadn’t had dinner yet (his 1.5 hour drive had taken him 2.75 hours), and the cookies the foyer ladies provided us with were a poor substitute for a real dinner, we decided to go get something to eat in the city’s centre – at least, Aart did; I wasn’t hungry because I had already eaten.
When we got back in the middle of intermission, it was immediately clear to us that there was a dress code that we didn’t know about. There we stood in our shabby daily clothes amidst a sea of bow ties, black suits and gala dresses. I was glad that at least I had changed my comfortable, but very worn sweater for a shirt that was at least intact :).
Our seats were on the balcony in the very back, which was a bit of a disappointment to Aart, who wanted to take pictures. He did so despite of the distance, and on the little screen of his digital camera, the pictures turned out quite nice. I wonder what they’ll look like on the computer screen, though.
The lights went out and Hans van Willigenburg, well-known tv host in the Netherlands, came on stage to introduce Steve. Steve then sang Gethsemane, which was, in my opinion, by far the best song of the entire evening, including the first half of the show that we didn’t see :). I already knew Steve has a great voice, but he still impressed me. Definite goosebumps moment. And a huge ovation from the audience followed.
After the song, Hans came back and had a little interview with Tim Rice, who was actually in the audience and came onto the stage for the interview. He seemed like a nice person; he made a few jokes here and there at his own expense. More importantly, he praised Steve for his performance as well. As he did so, Aart urgently asked me for my pen to write it down :).
Then, the second half of the actual show, Musicals in Concert, started. It was basically a long series of songs from famous musicals such as The Lion King, The Three Musketeers, Mamma Mia, and a few others that I forgot, strung together. I didn’t know any of the singers, but when Aart told me that one of them was Danny de Munck, I did recognise him and we had a quick laugh. (Danny de Munck had a role in a Dutch musical when he was a kid that will haunt him for the rest of his life.)
About halfway through the show, Steve came back to sing Immortal, which was the second highlight of the evening. After that, the Musicals in Concert show dragged on, and I was glad when it was finally over.
At the end, a scholarship for young musical talents was awarded to a certain CÃ©line Purcell, who, as Aart said when we saw some footage of her, didn’t seem to need that scholarship at all. CÃ©line joined the Musicals in Concert cast to sing a final song, after which Aart and I rushed back to the foyer, wherefrom one of the hostesses would bring us backstage. While we were waiting for her, I was standing in the way of a man whom Aart identified as Seth Gaaikema, who is also very famous in the Netherlands. I am glad to have stood in his way, because now I am more or less the equal of my sister again, who has stood in the way of famous Dutchmen such as Thomas Acda and crown prince Willem-Alexander.
Backstage turned out to be literally backstage; at least for a moment: we were led across the back of the stage to the bar where the artists got together to get a beer after the show. Danny de Munck was there too, and I have now added him to the list of people I have been backstage with but didn’t bother to introduce myself to because I really didn’t care about them. (The other person on that list is Tony Hadley after the Alan Parsons gig in ‘99 – Ah, how fortunate a person I must be to be in a position to have such a list, and at such a young age even :).)
We soon met up with Steve, who really is an amazing guy. He’s very friendly and while he loves to discuss the projects he is or was involved in, he doesn’t seem to have any ego at all. He made me feel very comfortable.
At the foyer, we had gotten a little cd case with some cards in them, with the program and the sponsors and bios of the special guests on them. One side of a card was devoted to Steve, and he signed it for me and Aart.
The card said that he was in the English version of the French musical Notre Dame de Paris. I don’t really care for musicals, but I love that one, so I mentioned it to Steve and we had a brief chat about that. Semi-interesting degree-of-separation trivia bit: on the French cd recording of the musical, the part of Esmeralda was sung by Noa, who released a cover of Eye in the Sky last year. In fact, when Steve and Eric perform Eye in the Sky nowadays, they use her musical arrangements, and I’ve read somewhere that this is at Steve’s request. I wonder if Notre Dame de Paris had anything to do with that :).
At one point, Steve left us for about half an hour to meet Tim Rice. When he got back, Aart told Steve about his upcoming holiday to England and Steve immediately offered that Aart could stay with him while he is in London, which again proved to me what a great person Steve is.
We talked about how Steve thought he was too old to be in Pop Idol while Aart thought he would blow away the rest of the candidates; Steve revealed a little, but quite impressive secret; and I made a picture of Steve and Aart’s feet.
At about 11:30, Steve had to leave to catch his plane back to England. Aart and I left the bar and found our way back to the foyer, passing Hans van Willigenburg’s private dressing room. We said goodbye at the parking lot in front of the theater, and I walked back to the train station. In the train, I read through the cards I mentioned earlier, and read that the dress code was ‘black tie’. Great. Now they tell me. Not that it would have made a difference if I had known in advance, because I don’t have anything that even comes close to ‘black tie’. The last (and first) time I went to a party with a dress code like that, was when I graduated from high school, and I borrowed a suit from my uncle, who was an undertaker at the time. (I regret now that I decided not to wear the gloves and the top hat to that party :).)
Anyway, it was really a great night and I’d like to thank Eric and Sally Woolfson for making the tickets available to Aart, Aart to make one available to Karel and me, and Karel for not being able to attend so that I could get it :). It was a night I won’t soon forget.
This is a sad day here in Holland, because this morning our Queen-mum died at the age of 94. It was quite a shock, although she was very ill the last 5 years. All TV programs are adjusted today with documentaries about her remarkable life.
I woke up with this news after a special evening last night.
Wednesday after congratulating Eric with his birthday, I got a mail from Eric’s daughter Sally, if I was interested in attending a special show in Den Bosch, where Steve would sing Gethsemane and Immortal. Kind of rhetorical question :-))
A lot of things needed to be arranged, but Friday at 16.30 hr I got the final confirmation and went to Den Bosch. The weather here was terrible and soon after I left at 17.00 I got into heavy traffic jams. It took 2.45 hours for those 118 km !!! And… I was too late for the start of the concert !
I arrived in den Bosch at 19.45, had to seek a parking place and needed to call home first, because I needed Steve’s mobile phone number to contact him for a backstagemeeting. Luckily Sally phoned Marina and gave her the number.
Steve was so surprised to hear me on the phone :-)) We made an appointment for after the show. I was planning to go with Marco, but he was not available and I offered the spare ticket to Jan and Karel. Karel was also not available, so Jan was the lucky one and he was already waiting for me at the theatre.
We found out that Steve would only perform after the break and because I didn’t eat since 13.00 hr, we decided to go for a simple meal and return in time for the second part.
We came back at the theatre during the break and….. that was quite a shock !
Let me explain something about the organization : it was organized by Cubus, which stands for CUlture and BUsiness. An organization with as goal to bring together culture and business. The whole lobby was filled by topmanagers, hotshots and captains of industry. All in tuxedo’s and long beautiful dresses…..
The entrance to the theatre was a red carpet and all personal was dressed up like footmen.
And 2 guys in jeans !!! I didn’t feel quite comfortable :-)
We went to our seats and we were far away from the stage. The pictures are not as good as usual. I had to zoom in at maximum to get some pics.
The show was exactly as what we can expect in June in Ahoy. Tracks from a lot of musicals, like Aida, Lion King, Mamma Mia, JCS.
Steve was introduced as special guest and he came on stage to perform Gethsemane. What an excellent performance ! He got a biggest ovation from all that evening !! In between song there was another special guest who got an award for all his work : Tim Rice ! Before the break they obviously played JCS songs in Dutch (the very first performance ever of JCS was in Holland) and Tim was asked his opinion about that. He liked it but….. he was obviously more charmed (like all in the audience !) by Steve’s performance and he called it sensational. After these words the audience again gave a big applause !
The show went on with several songs of which some were in Dutch and I have to say : I don’t like that at all ! Lyrics are an essential part of songs and a translation makes the complete song sound different (Little Hans <> Kleiner Hans !). But the English ones were nice and performed by good artists, famous all over the world in Holland :-)
And then…. the first notes of Immortal !! Excellent performance by Steve !
The orchestra though was a bit fast at the end of the song, so the last word Immortal was not as long as in Abbey Road or other occasions. For the first time ever I made a few videoclips with my photocamera and those are on the website too. (please save them to harddisc first to minimize traffic on the site ! thanks !). Again he got a very enthusiastic response from the audience. Quite remarkable for a “new” song !
After the concert a friendly lady guided us to the artists lounge and we met Steve ! We had a very nice time with a lot of laughs ! he arrived 3 hours before the show and went back the same evening, but we could talk and take pictures for 45 minutes. We had so much fun ! Steve told us a few things he is doing : He is very busy and almost ready with a modern dance project called “Chimp-Pan-A”. We will here more from this in near future ! And he told us a secret, I cannot reveal yet. But….there is a website which explains it all :-) I will keep my mouth shut, but good Googlers will find it !!
It was time to say goodbye and Steve promised me to spend a day with Marina and me when we are in London. I really look forward to this !!
I want to thank the Woolfsons for making this possible. I had an excellent time and I know for sure that the shows in Ahoy in June, will be as successful as last night.
Pictures and 4 choppy small movies at :