Quite possibly the best concert I’ve ever seen

So, after almost a year of waiting (we bought tickets in December 2016!) yesterday evening finally came around. One of my favorite singers ever, the Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli, stopped by in Amsterdam on his latest tour for a concert in the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam.

And what a concert it was! The 2,5 hours that the concert lasted must have been one of the most delightful ones for my ears and eyes in my life. Great sound, great stage, and absolutely wonderful music. The first half mostly consisted of more classical work, including famous arias like ‘La donna è mobile’ and ‘O mio babbino caro’, whereas in the second part of the concert Andrea went through spectacular renditions from film themes (including works from The Godfather and Gladiator), as well as a couple of his own biggest hits. All this supported by both a full blown orchestra (the Antwerp Symphony Orchestra) and the amazing Fine Fleur choir.

Needless to say time flew by and after a generous amount of encores, it was suddenly over. One of the best (if not the best) concert I’ve ever been privileged to witness.

If you’re ever presented with the opportunity to see Andrea Bocelli live, grab it. You will not be disappointed. I sincerely hope to be able to go again some day!

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My ultimate mix compilation

Over the past months, I’ve been slowly but steadily creating what I can now call my ultimate mix compilation. As I said before, these days I mostly listen to classical music (with some pop and rock music thrown in for a change of pace), but in my teens and twenties I’ve been listening to dance music a lot. As a hommage to this period, I carefully selected ten records and created a mix CD out of them. Now, if I ever want to take a trip down memory lane, all I need to do is give this mix a listen!

This is the track list for the mix, including a bit of motivation for every track I’ve used:

1. Pole Folder & CP – Dust
This progressive breaks track is the opener on one of my favourite mix albums of all time, John Digweed’s MMII. It’s a great track to set the mood and start things off slowly.

2. Minilogue – The leopard (Extrawelt remix)
Representing the period where I listened to tech-house, as influenced by the guys from the Border Community label, is this awesome remix from the Extrawelt guys.

3. JASEfos feat. Claire Sky – Do what you want (Max Graham Afterhours in Montreal remix)
A different remix of this track is included on my favourite mix album of all time, James Holden’s Balance 005. I’ve selected one of the Max Graham remixes instead as it fits the mix better. The great vocals that provide a high point of the track are very present in this mix as well.

4. Sander Kleinenberg – My lexicon (Eelke Kleijn Space remix)
Perhaps the best track from fellow Dutchman Sander Kleinenberg. The original version is featured on Sasha’s brilliant Global Underground 013 double album, but again, this remix from (yet another fellow Dutchie) Eelke Kleijn fits the mood I’ve tried to set better. It doesn’t feature the main melody as prominently as the original, but when it does kick in, it’s great.

5. Ocean Wave – Clearwater (Chloe Harris remix)
During the heyday of my progressive house period I listened to Proton Radio a lot. It featured some awesomely deep progressive house mixes, and one of my favourite DJ’s from that time was Chloe Harris. Turns out she’s produced and remixed quite a few tracks as well, so my mix wouldn’t be complete without at least one track to remind me of my Proton Radio listening days. The fact that this is a brilliantly deep progressive house track isn’t too bad either!

6. Yum Yum – Heavy fluid (Main Element remix)
Moving up a gear, this track shifts more towards the progressive trance side of things. Another style that I’ve listened to a lot.

7. Sasha – Wavy gravy (Napalm & D-Phrag remix)
When Airdrawndagger came out in 2002, it was already one of those genre-crossing gems that come around once in a while. Twelve years later, it hasn’t lost any of its impact. Most of the original tracks on it didn’t really fit my mix, so I opted for a great remix of what I think is the best track from ADD.

8. Nathan Fake – Outhouse (main mix)
Another belter from Holden’s Balance 005. I could listen to this bassline for days. Especially when I’m driving. Maybe the best track of them all.

9. Infusion – Legacy (Junkie XL remix)
To spice things up a little, I’ve included another progressive breaks track, although a far louder (for lack of a better description) one than the opening track. A great remix effort from Junkie XL.

10. John Digweed & Nick Muir feat. Guy J – Heaven scent
I really, really, really wanted to close my mix with Heaven Scent, as for me, it’s one of the tracks that defined the period and therefore a personal favourite. However, again, the iconic original version didn’t fit the rest of the mix, so I spent a lot of time finding a remix that did fit. And then I found this one, released in 2013, 14 years after the original. It uses the main melody very subtly, but it makes for a great mix closer nonetheless.

And without further ado, here’s the mix. I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I’ve enjoyed creating it. And if not, that’s fine too.. After all, it’s MY ultimate mix CD 🙂

A live performance of Mozart’s Requiem

This Friday I completed another item on my list when I went to a live performance of one of my favourite pieces of classical music. My mother-in-law told me about an upcoming performance of Mozart’s Requiem a couple of weeks ago and asked me to go with her as she didn’t really know anyone else who would like it. I’ve listened to this wonderful piece of music dozens of times already and the prospect of hearing it performed live didn’t leave me thinking for long.

So I drove the 45 minutes to the town where the performance was to be held. The venue was a church, very appropriate for the Requiem which is essentially a mass for repose of the soul or souls of one or more deceased persons, set to music. The Requiem was performed by an orchestra of about 25 to 30 people, four solo vocalists and an astonishing choir of 95 people. The ensemble had been selected especially for this series of performances, as the conductor told the public. As an addition to the music itself, the conductor told us something about the piece, its origins and its background. I thought this was very interesting.

The performance itself was amazing as well. So many talented people working together in performing such an exceptional piece of music pretty much guarantees a success, and it didn’t disappoint at all. Although I’ve been listening to classical music for quite some time, before last Friday I never took the chance to hear it live, but now I’ve finally done that, I am positive that I will go more often. And isn’t experiencing new things and finding out what you enjoy what having a bucket list is all about?

The first video below shows an impression of a previous performance by the same conductor. The Ave Verum performed there isn’t a part of the Requiem, but the musical style is pretty similar. The choir and orchestra at the show I’ve seen was quite a bit bigger though! The second video is a performance of one my favourite parts of Mozart’s Requiem, the Hostias.

Some videos that make me smile

This post is not an update on any of my bucket list items, just a couple of videos that make me smile (and in most cases give me goosebumps) every time I watch them. I’m sure most of you are familiar with the flash mob concept.. Combine this with the fact I’m a lover of classical music and this is what you get. Enjoy watching!

#64 – Compile my ultimate mix CD

Even though I am mostly listening to either blues, country and rock or classical music nowadays, I used to listen to a lot of dance music and I’ve attended lots of great parties. I also owned a pair of turntables for a couple of years and had quite a nice selection of records to play around with. I’ve sold it all, though, as I lost interest in playing and in keeping up (and in fact, listening to) dance music.

Still, from time to time, I do listen to some of my favourite mixes and tracks from back then, and this brought me to the idea of compiling and (digitally) mixing one final mix CD containing only the very best tracks, the ones that really bring back the memories, so to say. I’ve selected a couple of these tracks already, but it will take some time to finalize and mix this compilation. However, when it is finished, it should be something resembling the ultimate memory of my dance music past, something bringing back the feeling of ‘the good old days’.. I am really looking forward to the process!

Ah, those good old days..

Classical music knowledge level: +1

Yay! As of today I can call myself a little more knowledgeable when it comes to classical music. Over the past six months or so I’ve been listening to all 9 of Antonin Dvořák’s symphonies regularly. It took me a while to find a copy of #3 and #6, but in the end I’ve managed to find them somewhere on the Internet. After hours and hours of listening to them, although some of them have received much more play than others, I’ve found that #4 and #8 are my favourites. #4 for its catchy (as far as classical music can be regarded as catchy) 3rd movement – the Allegro feroce, #8 more because of its overall composition than for a single movement. Dvořák’s best known symphony, #9 (From The New World), receives a well-deserved bronze medal, to put it in an Olympic context.

I’ll keep listening to Dvořák in the future, but I’ll try and get some other composers in the mix as well. There’s still a lot left to listen and learn in the classical music world.

Antonin Dvorak

Garbage were awesome!

The title really says it all.. Yesterday evening I finally got to see Garbage live. And they didn’t disappoint!

My brother-in-law and I arrived at the concert venue in Amsterdam in time to get a couple of pre-concert beers and a chat. The venue started to fill up quickly, as the concert was fully sold out (Garbage has a decent fan base over here, and as I said before this was their first concert in years). After a pretty long buildup of anticipation the lights went off and the band appeared on stage. Time to rock!

I’ve listened to some of their live concert registrations countless times with great pleasure, and was therefore anxious to see whether they could still live up to that. After all, the band members aren’t getting any younger (Shirley Manson is by far the youngest at 45).. But my initial doubt disappeared immediately. Amazing to see the amount of energy Garbage still puts in their performances. They started with Automatic Systematic Habit, a track off their new album Not Your Kind Of People, as could be expected. However, luckily they didn’t just stick to playing their newer songs. Throughout the show, they played all of their hits from the past, mixed up with their latest recordings, balanced perfectly. Only Happy When It Rains, I Think I’m Paranoid, Stupid Girl, you name it, they played it, to great crowd reaction. Good to see most of the new songs getting a good response from the crowd as well.

After just under two hours and twenty-three songs, the concert ended on a high with Vow, a cracking song off their debut album. Concert over far too quickly, but an awesome experience and some more memories for a lifetime.

Oh, and they are playing in Amsterdam again in November. Who knows I’ll be there again!

Video below shows Garbage performing Only Happy When It Rains at this concert. Great alternative intro!