Concert Review: Andre Rieu at Vector Arena

By Paul Simei-Barton

Andre Rieu. Photo / Supplied
Andre Rieu. Photo / Supplied

From the moment Andre Rieu appeared on the huge video screens triumphantly leading his orchestra down centre aisle to the sound of 76 Trombones it was clear that we should wave bye-bye to the dignified reserve that is usually associated with classical music.

Establishing an instant rapport with the audience by sharing photos of his grandchildren, Rieu delivered an ironic "best audience in the world" routine before launching into the luscious, romantic music that has made him an international sensation.

Standing centre-stage with his Stradivarius tucked under his chin, Rieu led the orchestra with dramatic flourishes as they joyfully performed the Johann Strauss waltzes that helped to make Vienna the centre of European culture in the glory days of the Habsburg Empire.

The swirling waltzes were punctuated by three fine tenors and a succession of delightful sopranos delivering some of Franz Lehar's best loved operatic moments.

By the time we reached Strauss's Blue Danube the front of stage was clogged with waltzing couples exhibiting huge gusto but varying degrees of expertise.

In an artfully managed tease, Rieu had the orchestra breaking out the champagne and preparing to leave the stage before bringing out his special guests - the Seekers, who have re-formed at his personal request after an absence of seven years.

Judith Durham looked frail - but her eyes were sparkling with girlish enthusiasm and her huge, crystal clear voice has lost none of its power.

As she sang The Carnival is Over the last remnant of audience reticence was thrown to the wind and a well-mannered mosh pit formed in front of the stage.

The orchestral accompaniment beautifully complemented Durham's voice and a few brief moments of a cappella gave a taste of the golden harmonies that took the Seekers to the top of the charts at the height of the swinging 60s.

After a soaring sing-along version of Georgy Girl the stadium erupted into a genteel frenzy and Rieu was left growling - "Not tired? Nothing to do tomorrow?"

A resounding "No!" ushered in a further seven encores including a moving version of Amazing Grace played on a bagpipe and a tin whistle.

What: Andre Rieu.

Where: Vector Arena.

When: Friday.

- NZ Herald

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