Sunday, December 18, 2022

Clean Pete Christmas Show Amsterdam

Last time, Marqui wrote his raving review of a Clean Pete Christmas show in Dutch, this time I'll try and spell it out in English.
This was the first of four shows, spread all over The Netherlands. Next year, there's gonna be even more shows if all goes well. Boxmeer's favourite Christmas angels are spreading the seasonal cheer more and more and more, which is a good thing. And if they keep up this standard, it can only get bigger.

Loes Wijnhoven (not the cello-player, that's her sister Renée) was joking half way on stage of de Kleine Komedie (a snug little theater that holds about 500): 'How's Joop van den Ende doing this?!' Which translates something like: how do they do those big Christmas shows in those big theaters, produced by big wig producers (like Joop van den Ende is). And one could understand her (not so serious) lamentation: the audience in Amsterdam got a choir, multiple costume changes, a band with a saxophone and two string players, half a dozen guest singers, a tree, backdrops, lights, a giant cross, a big bed, dancers...just for one night. No easy feat.
Not that we were constantly reminded of how a big production like this is quite hard work. No, this was all about Christmas. All about love. And all about the love for Christmas. With a big cross in the background, but not to push a religious message, or to make fun of it. No, Clean Pete are serious about their shows, about their love for the season. When they give Christmas classics like God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman, Carol of the Bells, Coventry Carol or Hark Now Hear The Angels Sing, or ever Santa Baby, a Clean Pete makeover, they don't just translate to Dutch. They bend, twist and rewrite until it's their own. And the do that very carefully.

The mood was right, the spirit up, and yes, that's a quote from 'Wonderful Christmastime' and they covered it (in English), with help from Robin Kester. She was one of the guest vocalists, who helped make this show a true celebration. There was the help of serious jazz pianist, and cool crooner Ruben Hein. The jokes of bard Lucky Fonz III. The energy of Afterpartees' Niek Nellen (who sang a gorgeous version, with Loes, of Fairytale of New York). The sultriness of Maaike Ouboter. The solid soul of Thijs Boontjes. There was the choir (in the picture you see them when they did a cool Dutch version of the Carol of the Bells). There were more jokes. A speech. There was masterguitarist Anne Soldaat twanging his way through Jingle Bells - with dancing girls.

There were a handful of original songs (most of them also on Clean Pete's magnifique Gloria album), a very funny one by Moon Moon Moon's Mark Lohmann (who also sang his brilliant duet with Loes). But the one original that made us all choke up, was a short piano intermezzo by Renée, called Pièta. That's what a picture of the Madonna with child is called. I'm paraphrasing here, but Renée explained that 'Christmas was also about a mother who lost a child'. And then she sang her own story on this theme. It was heartbreakingly beautiful.

But like at any Christmas feast, moments of sadness are usually followed by joy. And joy we got, at the end, when they rolled out the big guns in the form of unbeatable UK Christmas classics like 'Merry Xmas Everybody'. No audience at Christmas show can keep silent at that point, and we didn't.
Finale! We applauded, we cheered, we thanked them. And they thanked us. And you bet we're all back next year.