Veteran serves up a Dutch treat. . .

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TO HERMAN VAN VEEN - Portrait

HERMAN VAN VEEN IN CONCERT
MUSICIANS: Edith Leerkes (guitar), Dave Wismeijer (bass) and Willem Wits (drums)
VENUE: Emperors Palace
WHEN: Saturday, January 25
RATING: ****

Dutch star Herman van Veen, in his late sixties with decades of international performances to his name, has nothing to prove. He probably doesn’t need to perform anymore, but being the artist he is, this is what he loves doing – and he does it his way.

The stage is like his playpen as he romps from one accomplishment to the next. His body movements and facial expressions speak a language of their own, but he also uses musical instruments, from the piano to the violin, to do the talking.

With his voice he moves between Dutch (even Afrikaans speakers have to fine-tune their ears) and English as he recites poems, tells stories and easily segues into songs that remind of the Piaf and Brel era and hold you close as they whisper of love and melancholy, the eyes of a mother and her unconditional love, or the ways of the world we live in.

With longtime musical cohort, the brilliant Leerkes, and the two younger musos to keep the conversation going, Van Veen places a drum between his legs and lets rip as his trio of accompanists join in the fun and make music that takes you way yonder and even over the horizon.

It is Van Veen’s personality, the way he fills the stage, one-liners like “if I knew grandchildren were such fun, I would have started there”, the manner in which he magically steps into a song, tells a story or suddenly starts jiggling his body that reminds of old-fashioned clowns, embraces his audience and circles his tight-knit group on stage, all of that turns this into a night to cherish.

This is an artist at work, but he’s inviting you to join the party. And because he’s having such a grand time, you can’t but have a barrel of fun. There’s a reason for longevity on stage. It happens when you’re this good.

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