I had been looking forward to last weekend for several months and felt super excited to be leaving for Antwerp on Friday afternoon, ready for some music and fun at Night of the Proms with my colleagues.
Night of the Proms is known worldwide for its unique concept where music from past and present is played by an impressive symphonic orchestra. After 30 years of success it seems it was time to start a new chapter for the Proms: in an attempt to make the event more attractive to a younger public, the entire show was built up again from scratch. The result: a new MC, a female conductor and some musical changes.
This year’s lineup did not really look all that remarkable to me: Natalie Imbruglia, Gavin Degraw, Joe Jackson, Basement Jaxx, Scala and surprise guest Regi. A few songs by these artists I remember being great hits but I was curious how they would fill an entire show. Of course, being the Proms, I expected another grand concert with lots of songs to sing along to, beats to shake and dance to and to just be wauwed by it all.
This year’s new MC was Kobe Ilsen. Presenting the Proms for the first time, he did a good job. His lines may have sounded very practiced and unoriginal at times but well, he was nice to look at 😉
Opening the show, the new conductor Alexandra Arrieche guided the Il Novocento orchestra through a very cheery classical tune. From the first note, her enthusiasm and energy clearly showed by the swaying of her hips throughout the song. I very much liked her way of conducting; definitely a good choice there. After this excellent opener, the first half of the concert included great hits like Thorn by Natalie Imbruglia and I don’t wanna be by Gavin Degraw. Serious sing-along moments with some swaying from the left to the right during the classical pieces and awe-inspired silences when tenor Fernando Valera performed on stage made the minutes fly by. Before the break, songs by Basement Jaxx with vocal support from the dazzling Nomvula Malinga and Sharlene Evette reverberated through the speakers. Part one left us wanting more, however, it did make me wonder how they were going to top this all.
A monologue about the war (wasn’t paying attention so I don’t know which one) opened the second part of the night, followed by a classical piece based on the events. Somewhat of a joy killer, if you ask me. And unfortunately it also set the tune for the rest of the evening: songs were slow and dramatic with only a few lively beats in between. I was glad to be in the company of my dear colleagues who kept the chatter and fun going. The performances of Joe Jackson and John Miles were of no big significance; I guess I am too young to appreciate and know any songs by these artists. However, John Miles has been the Proms man for years and I find that his act was shoved to the background a bit this year.
At the end of the concert, Regi got the party started again with some boom-boom-beats. He did not play anything from his own repertoire; seems he was just there to cheer people on, not to play music. A bummer!
I had a sublime time Friday evening: the food, the drinks, the Proms and the company! The best part of the concert was definitely the first: great sing-alongs, good vibes and strong energies. The second part was fairly disappointing. There are a few things I greatly missed this year such as the Fine Fleur choir (the performance of the Scala choir was rather mediocre) and the percussion act by Mr. De Smet. This really had a noticeable impact on the quality of the show and the involvement of the audience, in my opinion. In addition, I found the choice of music not as well thought-out as it used to be: the connection between songs was often absent and I had difficulties recognizing a number of songs. But there were also good things: I loved their choice of conductor, the MC did a nice job and the backing vocals, The Pretty Vanillas, were outstanding.
I am not a big fan of the new Proms-concept: it has lost some of its grandness, its usual shwung. Let’s hope next year will be better!
P.S. Got some optimistic news at my check-up last Monday: no changes since my last check-up in August. Yay!