This was a historic week for me as I went to my first Dutch concert. Since I moved here, I have been a fan of singer Caro Emerald. Her music is hard to describe, as it is a mix of jazz, hip hop, Latin, and lots of songs from the ‘40’s and ‘50’s seem to have inspired her sound. She is one of the most successful Dutch pop singers in this country and in England. She is from Amsterdam and naturally speaks Dutch, but she sings in English. All of the songs on her two CDs are in English and there is no trace of an accent. She is extremely popular here, and she has now widened her fan base. This year she did a sold out European tour and it was hugely successful. We bought our concert tickets about 6 months ago, and could not believe that we were going to see her live. The other good news is that she was performing just minutes from our neighborhood. Utrecht is building a new music center and a local venue is being used while construction is going on. The theatre we went to was wonderful, it had 1000 seats and the  front of the stage has space for another 1000 people to stand. You can imagine that I was very determined to get to the sitting area.

All I can tell you is that the concert was beyond brilliant. Caro Emerald’s voice was perfect and her 8 piece band was fantastic. It was a glorious night in celebration of music. I am not going to give a music or concert review, but I will share some observations as an American at my first concert in this country.

First of all, I had heard that the Dutch are very quiet in concerts. That they are pretty reserved and don’t scream and shout too much. At the start of the show, which started right on time (this is such a Dutch thing and she was true to her heritage), Caro came out on stage and I thought the sold out crowd would go crazy. They were polite and friendly, but they did not seem that excited. Caro sang all of her familiar songs and each song has a distinctive beat. It took the crowd awhile to get into the music, or maybe they just needed to loosen up. I looked to see if the people in the pit were dancing or moving around, and they hardly were. But after a few songs I noticed heads swaying and nodding and that people in front of us were moving just a little. They loudly applauded after each song, and now they were making more noises. Was it the beer or wine that relaxed them or did they finally realize it was okay to show some emotion and have fun?

Second, this was a crowd of two thousand people and we can safely assume that most of them were Dutch. I am sure I was not the only English speaking person or non-Dutch person there. But once the audience got into the concert, I heard them singing along to the songs, as I was. Remember that all the songs were in English. Imagine that you were an American and how would you do at a concert in a foreign land where you had to sing along? It gave me goose bumps to hear all of us singing the songs together. During the few times that Caro spoke to us, she spoke Dutch, and that was weird for me as I have only heard her use English words.

When the concert was getting toward the end, she was doing her bigger hits and she encouraged the audience to stand up. The song I had been waiting for (A Night Like This) my personal favorite, was starting and the crowd went crazy. We all stood and sang the whole song while clapping and moving to the beat. And from then on, no one sat down again. For all the other songs, everyone stood and danced and swayed, and sang. I thought the roof was going to blow. The Dutch can certainly party, but it takes them awhile to warm up.

Finally, this is just an American observation. Caro is pregnant and if you did not know this, you would know once you saw her. She never mentioned this during the concert. This was the very last night of her concert tour, as she had to end it early because of the pregnancy. I know that if she was an American singer, she would not only mention the pregnancy, she would have sung a song to her unborn child. There was no way this was NOT going to be mentioned if this concert was in America, a big deal would have been made of it. But this is about the Dutch culture and this was an educational moment for me. Here is this amazing woman who is so beautiful and so very talented. She stands on the stage for two hours and fifteen minutes and gives a fabulous performance. She is the center of whole night, she is why two thousand people came on a rainy night. And yet, with all of this deserved attention, this Dutch woman did not speak about her first pregnancy because…it is not that big a deal. The Dutch don’t expect parades and applause for things like this, the Dutch get pregnant all the time, and why should she make an announcement about hers? She is not hiding her pregnancy, it is just the way it is. The Dutch are not good self-promoters and they do not like people who brag, so this is consistent from what I know. But it still surprised me as it was a reminder that I was not in USA.

But the bottom line is that I was completely entertained, this was one of the best concerts I have ever been to. And the crowd was so friendly and diverse. The age range was 8 years to 75 years (I am guessing on that). It was an gezellige evening.

This is the video that introduced me to Caro and I was hooked. Enjoy!


Recommended reading: The Light of Amsterdam by David Park. A really good novel about people coming from Ireland to Amsterdam for a long weekend. You get a great sense of the city, but ultimately a good story about a variety of characters.

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  • Jean Langley  On November 4, 2013 at 2:11 am

    Thanks for the video clip. Kind of a bossa nova rhythm. I can see why people wanted to dance!

  • Shers Gallagher  On November 4, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    Lovely voice – thanks for sharing the video clip. Was winding down the performing aspect of my life when I immigrated but married someone who both still performed and put on concerts in our area. Though now retired from the scene I had to laugh and relate to your observations about the Dutch, who can sometimes be maddening and other times refreshing in their behaviour. Nice to read that you had a positive experience with a very genuinely nice sounding and talented performer.

  • krunn7  On November 6, 2013 at 6:41 am

    I see what you mean about the flawless English. I watched another one called Hey Handsome. She really is good. Now I will be alert for her on CBC radio.

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