I have seen a lot of videos already in this thread but I think I’ll still add a verbal report of my own experience. The last Il Divo concert in Gdansk during the 2012 tour had been canceled but my friend and I had kept the tickets since we had been promised the concert would take place at a later time. Now eventim told us they would honor our tickets for this concert and off we went. Since my friend was born in Poland close to Gdansk we took the opportunity to visit her aunt on a farm in the very rural part of northern Poland. Therefore I went to the concert directly from a cow shed where I had been admiring a 3 days old calf among other cows… it was quite the contrast. We just had time to stop by the hotel and for me to change which was very necessary since I stank – and I don’t mean I smelled a bit strong.
As to the concert… do I dare posting something critical on this forum? Well, I guess as long as I accept that I’ll probably get crucified, at least verbally, I think I can post anything. Don’t forget before you start throwing things: this is just my opinion and no one needs to agree. So here goes:
I knew I had a problem with the concert even before it started because I don’t like Katherine Jenkins. Well, I do admire her strong, beautiful voice, but I don’t like her repertoire since I don’t like opera at all and I really appreciate Il Divo staying just one step short of getting really operatic. But let’s start at the beginning.
First I have to say that for the life of me I cannot remember the set list in order and I hope somebody else has a better memory. The arena in Gdansk was actually about sold out as far as I could see and when Il Divo came out on stage they of course got an enthusiastic welcome. Polish people can be very enthusiastic and temperamental and it did show. Il Divo were as wonderful as always but right from the start I thought that the sound mixing wasn’t really inspired. The balance of the four voices just sounded somewhat off. But nevertheless, the guys were great. I don’t think they are even able to give a bad performance. After the first song David greeted the audience and commented about the enthusiasm with which they were welcomed. He was followed by Seb and Carlos who made the expected comments about being happy to be Gdansk and enjoying being on tour again and so on. Urs then actually greeted the audience in Polish which got him a big applause.
(I just have to use this opportunity for an excursion into Polish language. I don’t think myself a complete idiot when it comes to foreign languages, since I do after all speak three different languages more or less fluently, but Polish is beyond me. They have for example about fife different sounds for “sh” and I can pronounce about one of them. That’s the one that sounds just like the “sh” we all know. Honestly, how do you pronounce something like Szczecin??)
Seb later tried a word in Polish, too, but I think most of the audience didn’t even realize that he was trying to speak their language. I really can’t blame him for getting it rather wrong.
Back to Urs and his greeting. Urs told us that he had been to downtown Gdansk despite the bitter cold (and man… was he right about that) and had admired the houses. He said every house looked like a painting.
(Another excursion into Polish culture, short, I promise. Polish people like their houses, and everything else, colorful. So, every house get’s painted a different color and often adorned with geometrical patterns. I think it’s very beautiful. And you not only find these painted houses in center city Gdansk, which will be crowded with tourists in summer, but also in very low income areas.)
Back to the concert and no more excursion. Where was I? Ah yes. After the greetings there were of course more song to be enjoyed and I enjoyed them thoroughly and from what I heard so did the rest of the audience. Somewhere in between there was also “Mama”. Now, I know this song kind of divides the Il Divo fans. Some love it and can’t get enough of it and other’s hate it or at least think it has been overworked. Unfortunately I belong to the later group. I never liked it in the first place and by now I really could do without it. But I guess there’s no escaping it. Seb used the opportunity of introducing this song to talk about his children and especially his wife and how difficult the pregnancies had been for her, but for Seb it was rather a short talk. We all know he can go on for a while once he’s started. Somewhere in between the songs Carlos of course had to mention that he was still the only single one… well, I guess we’d have to send for the doctor if he forgot that, ‘course he certainly would be severely ill. That was our introduction to LVSA. A lot of people got up during that song and danced and it was a great atmosphere but being in Poland I had expected nothing less.
Then the guys introduced Katherine Jenkins and she appeared on stage in a very beautiful purple dress – and she started with the famous Aria from the opera “Carmen”. Now there I was, having to listen to opera just because I wanted to hear Il Divo. That’s why I don’ like mixed concerts. I want to have a choice which artist’s concert I want to spend money on and I don’t like the choice of either not listening to Il Divo live or having to listen to something I dislike, too. Unfortunately I found out another thing I don’t like about Katherine Jenkins. I know there are strong cultural differences in behavior and taste, I really do, since I have lived in various countries all over the world, but I cannot deny my northern European roots and Ms. Jenkins cute giggly girly stage presentation (after the songs) really clashed with my plain “no nonsense – no frills” upbringing. Other people may find if appealing but I really could not get used to it. Her next song then was from “My fair lady” and there the enjoyment really ended for me. I love the song, but Eliza Doolitle is a very young, inexperienced and innocent girl, really, and hearing that song from a vamp in a purple dress with a mature and overpowering voice simply made no sense to me at all. Someone around me made the unflattering remark of comparing Katherine Jenkins to a praline (the French, not the American version of praline, and it wasn’t me!). Unfortunately it went on along those lines. Il Divo came back on stage to join Katherine Jenkins for a rendition of “Music of the Night”. At first I was rather exited because I like the song and it isn’t on any Il Divo CD. But here, unfortunately, the sound tech, who, as I already said, didn’t have a very inspired evening, showed his worst side. Now, Katherine Jenkins has a VERY strong voice. It went rather well with Carlos and it was still ok with David, but with Seb it simply sounded strange and Urs, I’m sorry to say, need not have opened his mouth because you couldn’t hear him anyway. We all know that Urs doesn’t have the strongest voice ever but it isn’t that weak and that’s what sound mixing is for. As long as every singer has a microphone in front of their faces and actually uses it, a sound tech should be able to account for differences in vocal strength and blend the voices together. Urs actually has a sophisticated and subtle technique, which I happen to admire, but it all gets lost if it sounds like a competition of who can sing loudest. I’m sorry Irene, I really think this time it was off, but I hope in the next concerts is will be better balanced. As I said, it is mainly a technical problem. And on that note we went into intermission.
After intermission Katherine Jenkins came back out in a pale, glittery dress and I promptly heard comments about her looking like a sugary candy stick from around me. (It wasn’t me, I swear, but I had my Polish translator friend right beside me, so I had access to all the comments from around me.) She went with a more pop repertoire now and I actually started to like her much better, if she would just skip the cute giggly stuff… After the first song she ripped off her skirt revealing a very short skirt beneath it (that trick’s a bit old, isn’t it?) and the person from behind me commented that now she was a naked sugary candy stick in a voice that even I could interpret as sounding disgusted. Katherine Jenkins did another pop song I rather liked from her and then Il Divo joined her again. Somehow the sound tech must have gotten the hint, because her voice wasn’t as overpowering now and actually mixed better with the guys. I saw Seb signing and talking to the sound tech during the whole concert, though, but I don’t know whether that’s just his usual behavior, whether he wanted his own auditory input adjusted, or whether he disliked the general sound mixing. After Katherine Jenkins had left again we got some more pure Il Divo, but unfortunately for me I rather disagree about what their greatest hits are. I may belong to the minority here, but I do like their last two albums “The Promise” and “Wicked Game” best and there were very few songs from those albums. But choice of songs of course is difficult and you can’t please everyone, I understand that. Still, I kept wondering why they didn’t at least sing Adagio since so many people have been citing it as a favorite.
There seemed to be quite a bit of banter going on between the guys but unfortunately it was always without microphones. At some point Seb commented that they had decided to cut down on the joking… how sad. But even My Way contained only a minimum of fooling around and nearly all of it between Seb and Carlos. Near the end, though, there was another highlight when they sang PQTME. As far as I could see most of the people on the floor stood up and danced again and the standing ovation after the song took many minutes. It was really a great atmosphere.
Right after that they led Katherine Jenkins out on stage again in another pale glittery dress and … wait for it … there it was from right behind me: “now she looks like a Christmas tree decoration.” Since my friend and I had both been waiting for it we burst out laughing. Well, it was obviously nearing the end of the concert and people pushed forward trying to get autographs. The stage was actually easily accessible and people had been handing presents to the guys during the whole concert, but now it got a bit more crowded up front and security, which had been moderate so far, tightened up. At that point I had Urs directly in front of me and I saw him waving several people around the security guards to sign autographs for them and finally he knelt down on stage and signed whatever was handed to him until security put an end to that. I thought that was a bit sad. I’m really not into autographs myself but if it makes some people’s day, why not? I still think it should be the artist who decides if he wants to accommodate the fans and not the security. I cannot comment on what went on at the other side of the stage, where Seb was, since too many people were standing in the way by then and security let no one through to David and Carlos in the middles as far as I could see. During the encore a rather large part of the audience spontaneously joined into a song, I think it was Falling In Love With You but I may be wrong. As I said I had Urs directly in front of me and he seemed utterly delighted. Did I mention that I just loved the enthusiasm of the audience?
What else can I say? Ah yes, the stage setting. It was rather minimalistic and I think it was supposed to be all about the music… and the lights. While in theory I wholeheartedly agree with this concept, in practice I must have sat in the wrong seat because I spent a large part of the concert with a hand over my eyes since a d…n stage light was shining right into them. I thought we were supposed to be dazzled by five brilliant voices instead of being blinded by stage lights.
All in all I have to say I did enjoy the concert very much, but I liked the Wicked Game concerts better. Those were really outstanding, though, and hard to top, and maybe my expectations were just too high. Still, as I said, I did enjoy it and there is one thing I have to say for the Polish divas: Whenever there is another Il Divo concert in Poland I’ll be there, because it is just so much fun to be part of such an enthusiastic and emotional audience.
Have fun everyone at your concerts!
Vielen Dank Cora!!!