The Frits Philips Muziekcentrum in Eindhoven was almost sold out. First we got to hear Iva Bittová and the Skampa Quartet who played Moravian Folk Songs by the Czech composer Leos Janácek. Iva reminded me a bit of Kate Bush, because of her dress, long hair and dance. It was the first time I heard a string quartet sing. In the break we managed to change seats from the balcony to row three! After the break Ethel came on stage and played a piece from their first Ethel album. We heard that piece before when Todd, Joe Jackson and Ethel played in Carré, Amsterdam in 2005. They really warmed up the crowd with that. Then they played, together with percussionist Colin Currie, the premiére of Starry Night, especially written for Tromp by composer in residence Steve Martland. A great piece of music. Ethel left the stage and came back with Todd and Colin Currie who sat down behind a drum kit. I had expected something similar to Todd and Ethel in 2005: a semi acoustic set, but this time Todd had his green electric guitar, Ethel and a drummer! They started off with Mountaintop: loud and proud. Next we got Soulbrother and three more Arena songs: Afraid, Courage and Mercenary. All steaming versions and wonderfully arranged for string quartet. Ethel really rocks. They all had so much fun playing together: jokes, headbanging, Ethel singing choruses and great guitar solos by Todd. Then Todd left the stage ´to get some oxygen´, and Ethel played Flamingo and Zen Archer, beautifully arranged by an Ethel friend and a great Todd fan who has arranged lots of Todd’s songs and given them to the quartet. After that, Todd returned and played Weakness after an introduction how he and a friend invented the blues as crop sharers sitting on a porch sharing some crop back in Philadelphia when they were young….Then Todd told the audience he wanted to show how he could play his fiddle and started Black Maria, a great extended version. After that he laid aside his guitar for the first time and sang a beautiful and emotional version of Pretending To Care (much better than in 2005!). Then we got into some audience participation with Strike. There clearly were a lot of Todd fans in the audience. As an encore we got Lord Chancellors Nightmare Song, not at its original speed, but still great fun! Then alas it was all over.
I felt a bit disappointed that Todd did not visit Holland or Belgium in his European Arena tour, but this concert was much more than I had hoped for. It was a truly great and wonderful experience I’ll never forget. Great concert, Todd was in great shape. Ethel is wonderful, truly ´the most powerful string quartet this side of hell´!
I just bought the Arena CD this morning, so I could sing along and really appreciate the string arrangements. Todd and Ethel should make a CD together, they rock!
Thank you so much, Todd and Ethel and Colin Currie!