Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Wemmel (Belgium) delights...

A lovely evening in the suburbs of Brussels...
Wemmel, where we had previously performed in late 2014, invited us once more to de zandloper (the hourglass) & we had a splendid time...

Splendid Eurostar (not at dawn!) and joined by Chris Hatt it was a quick jaunt to the north of Brussels.

The theatre has a new restaurant so we were even more blessed gastronomically than usual.

Wonderful again to have Koen on sound and lights, creating splendid atmospheres for us to dwell within...
Good to get our Beatles medley set on a train another outing after a a couple of years - all, indeed, you need is love!

Dear Belgium, we will keep coming back!

Friday, 24 March 2017

We went to a Wonderful Party...

To the glorious Claridges for the birthday of forever young (oh yes!) Lady Lita Young...
The Lady herself, Lord David Young and a large group of their friends celebrated this amidst the beauty and splendour of one of London's most adored Hotels.
They appreciated our Scarborough Fair (accompanied by Chris Hatt - hoorah) and our Lambeth Walk (both forwards and backwards!); but the main event was a concoction of the wonderful writer and old BBC hand, Simon Brett... excellent to work with him again.  He created a potted written history of the birthday girl using lots of different songs, entitled The Lita Suite:- again with Chris at the piano, it lasted nearly 20 minutes!  It was a great joy to be able to set such wit, and delightfully the audience enjoyed it immensely, and got all the in-jokes, of course...
A wonderful evening in central London.

More sombre thoughts had occurred as I walked through London on my way there, as the Trafalgar Square vigil was being prepared for, and a few streets were still closed around parliament... but of course, we persevered, and there was not a hint at cancelling the party.

Sunset over st James Park (with a small bit of policeness, still...)

Off to Wemmel (very near to Brussels) on Wednesday... hoorah for Eurostar!

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Festival evening in Barnes

A lovely evening in Barnes (SW London, for those who need prompting) in a shared-bill concert in aid of excellent local charity FiSH

The theme of the evening was Thyme & Plaice... lots of food-related songs and pieces.

We were joined by the splendid baritone Richard Suart, with pianist Bryan Evans - both performing exquisitely, music by Coward, Lehrer, Flanders & Swann and an excellent drinking song by Ravel (Chanson à boire)... and also by the great Barnes Concert band, who played lots of music from films and shows... including Mary Poppins, Peanut Vendor, Chicken Run & Baa Baa Black Sheep.  The band are guided by musical supremo, Alan Goodall...

We sang Oranges & Lemons, The Java Jive, Scarborough Fair (joined to our great joy by Bryan on piano), That Cat is High and the Tiger Ragu (well, just Rag, actually!)

Delighted to have Anneka Rice in the audience (she is also someone who works with FiSH)
...and also to have our friend Carole join us - less travelling necessary than usual to a gig of ours!

We all joined together at the end, band, and singers, (conducted by Alan), to perform the Beatles' Honey Pie... a delightful end to a super evening; planned and created by our friend (dancer, choreographer, director  of stage works and of FiSH) Jenny Hughes, along with her splendid team.

Writing this whilst listening to the details of the Westminster terrorist attack... Ghastly business; glad I chose not to go by there this PM.  Thoughts, of course, run to those bereaved & affected:- hoping that this does not affect our posh gig in central London tomorrow...

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

German adventures continue

Our second round of Stimmflut 2017 concerts, shared with Viva Voce and Acoustic Instinct were equally splendid...
We started in Emden in the far north-west (just by Holland); lots of Dutch-looking language around the place:

It was already good, but we honed our all-three-group version of Stand by Me  to perfection over the nine concerts of the tour... glorious it was!
...and we even did another three-group version of Sh-boom at the merchandise table.. hooray!

Viva Voce, who have organised these Stimmflut tours for a number of years, have built up an excellent following... it was great to bask in their glory, with enthusiastic and happy audiences.

In this port, there was a small area with an aversion to anchorage!

This blog has more photos than usual, but I have to say I was very amused at this one... of all the children's book characters on which to base your hairdresser, this one seems most ironic!

Then it was on to two nights in Lingen (Emsland) - with a beautiful old town square...

A lovely thing I saw here, was that they commemorated the Jewish citizens who were taken from the town to the camps in WWII - clearly a dark memory, but good that it is remembered for generations to come: below are a couple of these I found - they are on the ground outside the places these people lived.

...and a great shop sign for this Stimmflut tour...

(...so do women, of course!)

Then all the way down to Neunkirchen (quite near Luxembourg from where we flew home); a new venue for the guys, but no less enthusiastic... we had first been to this place in 1999... so great to be back so soon!

Here is a view out of my Hotel am Zoo, you can see the seal pool amidst the trees!

Thank you Heiko, Basti, Jörg, David & Mate (VV guys) & Paul and Julian (AI guys) - we had a wonderful 9 concerts with you, and enjoyed it all tremendously!

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

DE & BE & DE again....

More adventures in Germany and Belgium...

The last of our first round of Stimmflut 2017 gigs was at Wolfsburg; having stayed off for ages it was raining there, so we got a rather bleak view of the Zaha Hadid Phaeno building... but we did see it!

The last of our first five of these was as splendid as the others... and in a theatre which we will re-visit on 20th May - so do come along and see us on our own!
But as ever, we did love our shared gigs with Viva Voce and Acoustic Instinct...
Here we are celebrating after the show (Paul from AI seems to have become a giant! Jörg from VV looks on...)

We have four more in our second round of Stimmflut gigs starting this Thursday... in Emden, Lingen/Ems (twice) & Neunkirchen... bit more driving on this tour! 

So on to Belgium after Wolfsburg, we had two concerts in Lommel (1st time) and Heusden-Zolder (for the 3rd time).
Both theatres run very efficiently & well and we were treated splendidly (food, as ever, a glory)... and we had Koen Dilliën being splendid on lights and sound... brilliant to have him with us again.
...and the wonderful Chris Hatt playing piano with us - what splendours... especially riotous Route 66 solos each night!
Both audiences were responsive and enjoyed our music, both serious and comedic.

Great to see our lovely Dutch friends Gertie, Gabby and Jolein on Sunday afternoon, and share a meal with them after, whilst listening to some splendid Belgian jazz...

In H-Z, it was good to see our poster given prominence in the gents loo... not sure if it was in ladies as well...

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Harmony Tour of N.Germany

Five concerts on a tour of the beautiful north of Germany...
Sharing the stage, as part of Stimmflut 2017, with Viva Voce & Acoustic Instinct...

Both other groups wonderful and splendid in their own ways... Viva Voce, 5-part & Acoustic Instinct 2-part (beatboxing, but not only!)  We all joined together at the end and sang Stand by Me... marvellous.
The audiences have basked in a feast of vocal music; we enjoyed ourselves immensely - as this is the 10th year of the Stimmflut tour, Viva Voce who created this series, have developed wonderfully knowledgeable & enthusiastic crowds!
They loved all that we did - from 16th-century French music (Thoinot Arbeau's Belle qui tiens...) to Tiger Rag and Strangers in the Night... and finishing off with the German tongue-twister, wenn ich vergnügt bin muss ich singen.
Wonderful to watch and listen to the other two groups, Acoustic Instinct's dynamism, rhythm & fun; & Viva Voce's melifluous beauty & harmony (& fun too!)

We performed in Buchholz, Stade, & Wolfenbüttel (two nights...); tomorrow we complete this part of the tour in Wolfsburg - the only one of the places we have been to before (in 1999).
(More coming in March)...

There was a street in Stade which suggests (making sure you use German pronunciation) that there may have been a campaign to use more than 140 characters in communications, even many years ago...

Beautiful places indeed...
Stade (an old Hanseatic League port & once ruled by the Swedes and then the Danes)


Corny joke (another):-
Do you think they have any of the below in red?

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Dinner for 4 in places beginning with 'B'

So two performances of Dinner for 4... in Baden Baden and Brackenheim...
Delightful both.

The audience sat at tables and enjoyed food and wine as we gave them Dinner for 4... and a great time was had by all.
For Baden Baden, we were in a hotel in the splendour of Rastatt, complete with red Baroque castle (our desires are widely known!)

As to Brackenheim...
We had not visited this venue since the year 2000 - well, Mike and Mark had! - such joy in inviting us back so soon!  The guestbook from that year with photos made us feel a wee bit worn! (Mike was reminded of his accident with a basin which flooded the hotel... they were amazingly pleased to see us return!)
But a full to the rafters house was full of joy and acclaim

A meal for the entire administration of the concert club after the concert was not only excellent to digest, but most convivial and happy!
Thank you to all who helped our evening be so terrific - Joachim, Martin, Christina et al....

Oh and a small thing I noticed in Brackenheim:
The bus stop outside the church was clear that anyone wishing the 666 route had to carry on with their journey...

Now we are back in Germany for five concerts shared with Viva Voce... more details anon!