For the first time in a long time I've been watching live music. OK, you sometimes hear bands playing for free in pubs or so, but I mean actually make an effort to go to a venue and pay for it to actually listen to the music. Today was one of those days.
There is so much live music going on all the time in Amsterdam that it can be difficult to choose, unless it's sold out, which kind of makes your choice for you. That is when the reputation of a venue can come to your aid.
Bimhuis is one of the most respected jazz venues in the Netherlands. They have always been located on a canal called Oude Schans in the lesser known parts of central Amsterdam. But they have recently moved to a new location near the ferry terminal on 't IJ. It's a completely new building called Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ, which also contains other concert halls, exhibition rooms and at least one café. Anyway, to get back to the subject, the Bimhuis website is what I looked at when I decided to go for The Bad Plus, since I do like jazz trios.
To get yourself a ticket should be a simple action. I chose to go for the AUB (Amsterdam Uit Bureau) who sells tickets for all kind of venues. When I got there at half past five they told me that although there was 22 tickets left, they had all been sent back to the Bimhuis, so I would have to get them there. That's life for a procrastinator. I should have been there earlier.
At five to seven I joined the line
that has formed outside the Bimhuis ticket office
. Knowing there was only 22 tickets left I was relieved
when the first few customers merely wanted to get into the concert area rather than buying tickets, it looked pretty promising
. However, when the girl
in front of me got to the ticket counter she was told that it was sold out. However, she being a hot looking female
ly enough the guy behind the counter managed to find her one ticket. Me being not so female
, and keeping my hotness under wraps
decided to run the race differently. I used my Dutch
to tell him that I had just missed 22 tickets at the AUB and had traced them here, and I now wanted two of them for myself. With the tickets in my hand I returned home for a shower
At about half past eight I returned with a friend of mine (why do you think I bought 2 tickets?) and found that all the seats were taken, as were most of the standing room. And this half an hour before the band was supposed to get on stage. In a state of amazement we went to the bar instead to get a drink or two. As we heard the applause for the band getting on stage we entered the concert hall and managed to get pretty good places. Standing up at the back, but still with unblocked view of the band.
As they started with the first tune I almost got a fright. The jazz was very intense, but everybody – that is the pianist, bass player and drummer – were playing as if they were the soloist. In other words, no perceivable melody, no foundation to improvise on, no steady rhythm. I thought to myself that this is going to be a long night, but I tried my best to enjoy myself all through the number. As the second number started the the fog lifted. This was a more the kind of jazz trio music I like. Tight, innovative, coordinated and utterly enjoyable. From there on the concert turned into pure joy. Even later when they played tunes similar to the first one it was 100% listening pleasure.
So what are The Bad Plus like? Well, I've already said that they play well, haven't I? But one of the things that fascinated me was the pure joy that radiated from all three of them. They just seemed to be having a complete blast all of a time. Imagine having a job where you just have fun all the time (I'm sure they have their bad moments as well, but still). The three members also look completely different. Reid Anderson, bass, looks like he should be in a Britpop band. Ethan Iverson, piano, always wears a suit and hence looks like he would be a classical pianist. David King, drums, looks like he would fit perfectly in a hard rock band. Together they form a unity that creates beautiful music. Or as they say on their website,
Regardless of how you might describe The Kind Of Music You Like, this acclaimed trio’s passionate, eclectic language speaks directly to you and to anyone with a functioning heart, ears and nervous system.
The only tunes they played that I know most people will know about are Human Behavior by Björk and We Are the Champions by Queen, although both veered quite a bit from their original versions, especially the latter. They also made at least one political statement by playing their own The Empire Strikes Backwards dedicated to the US government. This was all interspersed with entertaining talk by Ethan Iverson. To finish it off they played two encores.
All in all it was a fantastic evening, and I would recommend The Bad Plus as well as the new Bimhuis to anybody.
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