21 December 2017 (gig)
22 December 2017
Andre Rieu and his 60 piece Johann Strauss Orchestra are celebrating 30 years of international acclaim. Having recently released the album, Amore, a collection of classic and contemporary pieces recorded in their playful and moving style, the Orchestra have promised a memorable evening of songs we all know and love. With Birmingham's Genting Arena packed to the rafters, the show starts promptly at 8pm when Rieu and his Orchestra make their entrance through the stalls, greeting the audience on their way to take centre stage. It is immediately apparent that this is an audience that knows and loves the Orchestra, and are aware of the charismatic conductor or violinist's jovial presence.
From the very outset it is clear that this is a show the centres on stunning compositions flawlessly delivered, but that the emphasis is on the unity that music create and the sense of sheer fun and enjoyment we all take from that collective experience. While keeping the tone light, Rieu is unafraid of political and social observations. A particularly poignant rendition of Parry's Jerusalem demonstrated the emotional heart of the evening.
While the evening had several thought provoking interludes, Rieu and his Orchestra enjoy packing a pleasurable punch and there were laughs aplenty when the stalls were covered in piles of plastic snow during a rousing rendition of White Christmas. As the audience took to their feet for a waltz to the Strauss classic The Blue Danube, Rieu engaged in a little banter with one over enthusiastic audience member clinging to the stage and begging for one more waltz!
With notable solos from Anna Majchrzak (a moving Memory) and Lin & Li Jing Linda (a captivating Plaisir D'Amour) proving highlights of the evening, it was in the audience to and fro banter during the extended encore that Rieu and his Orchestra seemed at their most relaxed. With all the performers on stage they delivered La Traviata's The Drinking Song, a tap dancing Stephanie Detry during Tutti Frutti and a sing along Jingle Bells / We Wish You A Merry Christmas, before the most mesmerizing rendition of Amazing Grace with Manoe Konings joined on the bagpipes by the West Midlands Fire Service Pipe Band.
Closing the evening with the always wonderful We'll Meet Again, the audience left with an extra spring in their step having been brought together for a magical musical meeting.