26th November 2022
Night of the Proms 2022 with Kool & The Gang, Amy Macdonald, Nik Kershaw, Carol Decker of T’Pau, Matt Simons and Yolanda Brown, the Antwerp Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Alexandra Arrieche, the NOTP Backbone Band and the choir Fine Fleur
After the tour had to be postponed twice due to the pandemic, there is now good news: the NIGHT OF THE PROMS is staking place in 2022 as planned and presents a program with this year’s artists with a pronounced hit density. In addition to KOOL & THE GANG, AMY MACDONALD, NIK KERSHAW, CAROL DECKER from T’PAU, MATT SIMONS and YOLANDA BROWN are there as a classical soloist. The stars are accompanied on their greatest hits by the ANTWERP PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA and the CHOR FINE FLEUR under the baton of conductor ALEXANDRA ARRIECHE.
The NIGHT OF THE PROMS is a music event that is unique in Europe. Since 1994, the show has delighted a steadily growing fan base in Germany. This is where Classic meets Pop, arias meet chart hits, suits meet leather jackets, stilettos meet Chucks and Tchaikovsky meets Boy George. It merges, in equal parts, two styles that have long been considered incompatible: serious and light music. A large symphony orchestra with a choir plays the classic hits and, together with a rock band, also accompanies the pop star guests.
With hits like ‘Celebration’, ‘Get Down On It’, ‘Ladies Night’, ‘Cherish’ or ‘Fresh’, KOOL & THE GANG will always have a place in the playlists of every good party and in the programs of all major radio stations worldwide secured. With their soulful Disco Funk, KOOL & THE GANG have regularly conquered the international charts since the late 1970s. They made the top 10 with 25 songs and achieved gold or platinum status with 31 albums. With over 100 million records sold, they are regarded as one of the most important representatives of the Disco movement and as an influential source of ideas for Hip Hop in the 90s.
Already in 2013, AMY MACDONALD delighted the audience of the NIGHT OF THE PROMS with the mixture of her soft but haunting voice, great feeling for stylish songs and Scottish down-to-earthiness. After her breakthrough success with ‘This Is The Life’, the self-taught musician has released five albums from 2008 to date, collecting gold and platinum awards for them. Despite their musical and stylistic development over the years, Scottish Folk and British songwriting tradition still characterize their sound: big, courageous Pop songs, recorded with real instruments, without frills.
NIK KERSHAW made his European breakthrough in 1984 with ‘Wouldn’t It Be Good’, in Germany it went up to number 2 in the charts. Following this, his debut ‘I Won’t Let The Sun Go Down’, which flopped in 1983, was able to place itself in the radio charts. His sparsely released albums ‘Human Racing’ and ‘The Riddle’ reached platinum status in the UK and the subsequent world tour was a smash hit. He received his musical accolade through his appearance at the Live Aid concert in London’s Wembley Stadium. In the following decades he worked as a songwriter for artists such as Elton John, Boyzone and Chesney Hawkes.
With ‘China in Your Hand’, CAROL DECKER, as the frontwoman of the British pop band T’PAU, stormed to number one in the British charts and number two in the German charts in 1987. With powerful arrangements and a powerful voice, CAROL DECKER still easily convinces her audience today. MATT SIMONS is a Californian singer-songwriter whose career took off almost by accident. When the producer of a Dutch soap opera hears his song ‘With You’ at a concert, she decides to use it in an episode of the series. SIMONS only found out about this when he found his song at number 10 in the iTunes charts. The release of his rather quiet song ‘Catch & Release’ as a Deep House remix catapulted him to the top of the German charts in 2016. SIMONS delivered the summer hit of the year with ‘We Can Do Better’.
With the saxophonist YOLANDA BROWN, this year’s classical soloist was engaged. The British Jazz musician and exceptional talent was the first musician to win the MOBO Award for ‘Best Jazz’ two years in a row. Both her debut album ‘April Shower May Flowers’ and her album ‘Love Politics War’ reached number one in the jazz charts. YOLANDA BROWN is a multi-talent, has toured with Billy Ocean, The Temptations and Diana Krall, is chairwoman of the largest British music charity institution ‘Youth Music’ and received an honorary doctorate from the University of East London. The stars of the NIGHT OF THE PROMS are once again accompanied by the ANTWERP PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA and the choir FINE FLEUR under the direction of conductor ALEXANDRA ARRIECHE.
As always, the night was opened by the fab Antwerp Philharmonic Orchestra and the choir. Perfect light effects illuminated the hall and the stage. After the overture, the orchestra alone presented the classical piece ‘Hungarian Dance No. 5’ by Antonin Dvorak. For ‘How Deep is your Love’, the orchestra was joined by the instrument-solo artist today, YOLANDA BROWN who is an amazing saxophone player. After this classical introduction into the evening, it was time for the first solo artist, MATT SIMONS, who was presenting three of his songs. I was not familiar with the name MATT SIMONS before, but when I heard his first song, ‘We can do better’ I realized that I know it from radio. During his last song, ‘Catch & Release’, he climbed from stage to do a short walk through the audience.
After MATT SIMONS it was some time for more classic and a waltz. And waltz of course means you have to dance… at least some couples in the audience did. Also a nice tradition of NOTP that people are waltzing through the infield along to ‘At The Beautiful Blue Danube’. After the waltz, it was the perfect time for some eighties classics with CAROL DECKER from T’PAU. Even though the heydays of T’PAU are gone, Carol did not lose anything of the power in her voice and of her stage presence. With ‘Valentine’ and especially ‘Heart & Soul’ you were presented by some sing-along-songs. Then Carol announced her hit ‘China in your Hand’ with whom she kicked the BEATLES from the top of the charts. During the song, she was soon accompanied by YOLANDA BROWN, who entered the stage from the audience area.
After orchestra and choir presented another classic piece, Yolanda presented her exceptional saxophone skills. For ‘Is this Love’, originally by BOB MARLEY, the audience was invited to sing along to the refrain. Following ‘Superman March’ impressed with an extraordinary light show. When host of the evening Marcus Fahn entered the stage afterwards, probably the saddest moment of the evening had come. He spoke about the death of a NOTP legend, John Miles, who past away almost a year ago. It was really hard to imagine how the show would go along without Mr. Music. First, ‘My Way’ was played as tribute to John with an original recording of his voice during a live show. Then, John Miles Jr. entered the stage for an impressive version of ‘Music’, supported by Orchestra and the backing singers. I guess it was not only conductor Arrieche who had tears in her eyes and was handed a tissue from one of the orchestra members. With a slightly sad heart anyone was going into a twenty minutes break.
Back from the break, the overture from ‘Thieving Magpie’ by Rossini welcomed the audience back, virtuously presented by the fantastic orchestra. Up next was Scottish artists AMY MACDONALD who already was part of NOTP a few years ago. She became famous for her hit ‘This is the Life’. But first, there were two other songs for the audience: the up-tempo ‘Mr. Rock’n’Roll’ and the quite calm ‘Down by the Water’. For the following ‘This is the Life’, Amy invited the audience to sing along and made some jogs that people probably do not understand her Scottish accent since they did not really react to her words. Anyway, people soon sang along to her most famous song. A classic piece by Beethoven followed, the most famous ‘Ode to Joy’ from the 9th Symphony - a songs standing for peace and solidarity.
NIK KERSHAW was then announced with the words that it is time for more eighties sing-along-songs. And I am sure anyone knew the three songs following now. He begun with ‘The Riddle’ from the album wearing the same name. Next one was his breakthrough hit ‘Wouldn’t It Be Good’ from 1984 which was also a big success in Germany back then. His debut song from 1983, ‘I Won’t Let The Sun Go Down’. Was played as last in his set. People now were standing up from their seats and dancing and singing with him. I always love to hear the good old eighties songs live. Kershaw was in perfect vocal condition and received big applause when he left the stage for ‘Va Pensiero’ by Verdi, the last classic piece being presented during this evening.
Now, KOOL & THE GANG were up on stage with some soulful Disco Funk. Now we got the party started. Anyone knew ‘Cherish’, the first song they played. ‘Ladies Night’ and ‘Get Down On It’ made people get up from their seats to dance and clap along. When KOOL & THE GANG started with ‘Celebration’ all other artists joined them on stage for the obligatory last songs when all artists of the evening celebrated together. The host thanked all artists and the audience. This was really a big celebration we were waiting for so long. Many of the attendees surely will be back next year.
01. APO & Fine Fleur - Overture Night of the Proms 2022
02. APO - Hungarian Dance No. 5 by Antonin Dvorak
03. YolanDa Brown - How deep is your Love by Bee Gees
04. Matt Simons - We can do Better
05. Matt Simons - After the Landslide
06. Matt Simons - Catch & Release
07. APO - By The Beautiful Blue Danube by Johann Strauss
08. Carol Decker - Valentine
09. Carol Decker - Heart & Soul
10. Carol Decker - China in your Hand
11. APO & Fine Fleur - Bacarolle by Jacques Offenbach
12. YolanDa Brown - Ranglin on Bond Street by Tommy McCook
13. YolanDa Brown - Is this Love by Bob Marley
14. APO - Superman March by John Williams
15. APO & Fine Fleur - My Way (John Miles tribute)
16. John Miles Jr. - Music
16. APO - Overture Thieving Magpie by Rossini
17. Amy Macdonald - Mr. Rock’n’Roll
18. Amy Macdonald - Down by the Water
19. Amy Macdonald - This is the Life
20. APO - 9th Symphony by Ludwig van Beethoven
21. Nik Kershaw - The Riddle
22. Nik Kershaw - Wouldn’t it be good
23. Nik Kershaw - I Won’t let the Sun go down on me
24. APO & Fine Fleur - Va Pensiero by Giuseppe Verdi
25. Kool & The Gang - Cherish
26. Kool & The Gang - Ladies Night
27. Kool & The Gang - Get Down on it
28. All Artists – Celebration by Kool & The Gang
The mix of classic and Pop is surely not easy, but the concept of NOTP succeeded once more, also after more than 1000 days of a break. Even though you might not be into classic or into this kind of Pop music presented there, the event is always highly recommended.
All pictures by Daniela Vorndran (http://www.vorndranphotography.com / http://www.facebook.com/blackcatnet)