Magazine article The Spectator

Real Life

Magazine article The Spectator

Real Life

Article excerpt

'Please, I beg of you, take me to see Andre, ' was my mother's heartfelt plea. And so it was that we turned up at Wembley Arena - she, my father and I - to experience the global phenomenon that is Andre Rieu.

Andre Rieu is a Dutch violinist and conductor who tours the world staging big venue classical concerts featuring all the popular classics you most want to hear. But that description really doesn't do him justice. You cannot possibly grasp what Andre Rieu is and does before you see him in action. When you see him perform live with his Johann Strauss Orchestra you realise he is not so much a violinist and conductor as a force of nature. His name could be a verb, if it were not so unpronounceable.

Before we go any further, I need to point out that Rieu is mispronounced 'Rue' by all his British fans, because we Brits can never say foreign names ending in vowels properly.

But his name is correctly pronounced Reer.

This is important to note because to Rue something is the exact opposite of what it means to Rieu something.

To Rieu (pronounced Reer) something is to make it sway from side to side going 'La la la la laaaaa. . .La la! La la!' ecstatically to the tune of 'The Blue Danube'. Yes, people sing along during his concerts.

But that is not the half of it. Sometimes older couples in the audience get out of their seats and walk to the nearest aisle and actually waltz with each other as Andre and his orchestra play. My parents did this. It was unbelievably sweet. I have lots of blurry photos of it which I will treasure for ever.

Andre Rieu makes people happy, you see.

I don't know how else to best describe what he does. My mother has been a fan of his for ages and watches him on the Sky Arts channel that is almost exclusively dedicated to rerunning his concerts. She was beyond excited to see him live, and was mesmerised as he swept us all up in a medley of the most stirring and uplifting all-time classical greats.

As well as the staple Puccini arias - you can't go wrong with a bit of 'O Mio Babbino Caro', can you? And this was a particularly soaring rendition - there were feet-stampers like the Radetzky March. Andre doesn't just let you sing along, you can clap, too. In fact, he prefers it if you do. …

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