The show started really promising, with a fine This Love Of Mine and then a superb Foreign Window, followed by Magic Time. T for Texas was played very slow and bluesy, Van asking the piano player to 'boogie woogie now!', which he did more or less... The band was very tight, if not too tight. My wife commented after the show that it was all so well crafted and directed, that nobody really TOOK a solo, none of the musicians did (dare to) take that extra step. Sarah and Tony were maybe the two who seemed to be the most 'into the music'. I can agree with my wife (I sometimes do ;-)), though the whole show was very very solid, musically.
The highlights were definitely my all time favourite Foreign Window and In The Afternoon. In The Afternoon had a long stretched out part including Big Joe Turner and 'Swedenborg Church-At the Notting Hill Gate-In The Mystic Church-I was thinking about it-I was sitting own-meditation-contemplation-in other words religion'. Which of course we all know from the good old Summertime In England-days. Van had most of the audience with him on this song, even with the quieter parts. Well, except for the two lads standing three feet behind us and who I think now have the world record for 'continuously-talking-for-90-minutes-without-taking-a-breath'. Grr. 'Sometimes We Cry' was powerful and great.
Van's voice might not have been as good as can be, it seemed to me that he might be suffering from a cold. The Venue itself is quite dreadful. It has good acoustics but absolutely zero atmosphere. There are only a few seats in the very back of the hall, the rest is standing. There's room for about 10.000 people.
Remarkable: Van had the two bars located inside the hall closed, maybe because he didn't want people walking to and fro all the time and because of the noise. There were bars open elsewhere in the building, and quite some people did leave the room for a beer. Personally, I can do without a drink for 90 minutes.
The area where the venue is located is even more dreadful (all my personal opinion, of course!). This part of Amsterdam is a sea of concrete, brick, steal and glass. It might be called modern architecture, I hate it. After the show I thought about how much contrast there is between this cold and chilly environment and the images Van paints with his music: Mystery, nature, love, religion. To me two different worlds.
Most of the people were apparently not so familiar with were Van is at now. There was great rumour when Van sang the first line of HITYL Vegas-style, and after Help Me, almost everybody was waiting for the next thing to come, while we sneaked out the door, grabbed our coat and catched the train.
All in all, I think it was a fine evening, with the best we can get from Van, considered where he's at now. If only he would play Vredenburg again...
And if only he (and his musicians) would really stretch out and improvise...
My final comment (and this really bothers me) is that there is still absolutely nothing new in the show, and it has been this way for a very very long time. I think Magic Time is the most recent 'new' song. Van does now include that Swedenborg Church part in In The Afternoon, but still it all has been done before. It is not really new. I bet Van did not ONLY listen to Big Joe Turner while driving the Ancient Highway, so why not play around with that a bit? Might lead into something else. I guess that's how the song developed long ago to what it is now. Why not carry on? I don't really understand. Therefore I'm really curious about this new album next year. I hope it IS new.