Just a thought... A concert is not a live rendition of our album. It’s a theatrical event. [Freddie Mercury]
Hello - and Happy Friday! Today we hit up three places in the Netherlands: Rotterdam, Kinderdijk and Schoonhoven. Tomorrow we arrive in Amsterdam and we were supposed to take a canal cruise there, but we’ll be otherwise enjoying ourselves (TBD) and sightseeing until Sunday morning when we disembark. Rob and I arrive home on Sunday afternoon and expect to have a new journal for you here on Monday.
I will have a lot of memories made in some beautiful places with some fun, fine people (including our great friend Mike Cooper) for you next week, but today I wanted to take you back to last Friday when I experienced something so extraordinary that I couldn’t wait to tell you about it.
We happened to see a poster in a restaurant in downtown Sidney, BC for a concert featuring the Victoria Symphony doing the music of Queen. That sounded fun, we thought, so we got ourselves four tickets for Friday, April 5th and decided to turn it into a late birthday celebration for Rob.
What a fantastic move that was! Seated front row in a second- or third-tier balcony in the majestic Royal Theatre, we felt like we had the best seats in the house as the 40-some piece Victoria Symphony began to warm up under their Pops conductor. Then, downstage, we spotted a pianist, guitarist, bass guitarist and drummer. Soon we realized that we weren’t just going to be treated to Victoria Symphony’s renditions of Queen’s hits; we were thrilled to learn that rock vocalist Michael Shotton and two back-up singers would be bringing Queen’s songs to life.
Here’s how the show looked from our perch; I didn’t take long to shoot, as I didn’t want our friends behind us or the people next to me to be distracted by the brightness of my screen.
In the second half of the show, the University of Victoria Jazz Vocal Ensemble (all twenty of them) took the back part of the risers and filled in some of the more anthemic parts of the biggest Queen hits. Here’s how the show unfolded.
The highlight BY FAR was "Bohemian Rhapsody." Strings. Horns. A choir. A rocking guitarist. A lead vocalist who owned the songs, not by trying to sing like Freddie Mercury (who could?), but by bringing his own Steve-Perry-meets-Robert-Plant stylings to the show. Start to finish (just about two-and-a-half hours including intermission) it was truly one of the best entertainment nights of our lives, Rob’s and mine.
The London, Ontario-based Jeans ’n Classics, which teams with over 100 orchestras continent-wide and performs everything from Queen to Fleetwood Mac, Eagles to Beatles, Motown to Prince hits, describes its music as suiting (but not exclusive to) those “25 to 65.”
I can tell you that while the 81-year-old behind us loved the show as much as we did, there were pre-teens and fans in their young twenties who were equally enthralled. What a fantastic way to introduce the symphony to those who aren’t sure if they like this genre of music. Is there anything Queen can’t do? Yes, everyone was shut down from dancing (which Shotton had playfully encouraged) by the ushers, who would be soundly booed for stopping the dancers - something you can bet never happens on Tchaikovsky night.
But nonetheless, it was a great, fun, applause- and cheer-filled evening that just blew us away. You can find out if or when Jeans n’ Classics - in any of its incarnations - is going to be playing near you simply by going to their website. But I guarantee you’ll have the time of your life. It was amazing - with cheers, tears and just so much enjoyment coming from watching a great band and an entire orchestra seemingly having as much fun as we, the audience, were.
I’m so glad we saw that little poster. Have a wonderful weekend and I’ll be back with you here on Monday with lots of pictures and stories from our Amsterdam adventures. Take good care and thanks for coming by this week!
(@erindavis on Twitter)