Seen Live: a balladeer @ De Helling

Back in 2013 I first saw Mevrouw Tamara sing one song at De supersonische boem!. That one song completely captivated me. So I checked out some of her songs online, and since I liked what I heard, I kept an eye open for a gig I could attend. No such opportunity arose. And then she was announced as the opening act for a balladeer in Utrecht.

Mevrouw Tamara — Zit ik vast I (live in de kringloop)

Unlike the woman sitting next to me, I dug it.

This is the part where I say that full-band a balladeer is still my favorite a balladeer, that (like the previous 23 shows I saw) it was quite awesome and I had a very good time, that the set list had a nice selection of new songs and old classics, and finally throw in a video of them playing “Trust Fall” at another gig to give you an idea:

a balladeer — Trust Fall (live at Hedon)

And then I wrap it up with the meta information, because that’s what I do.

Seen live
a balladeer + Mevrouw Tamara at Tivoli de Helling, September 16, 2016
Setlist a balladeer
A Wolf at the Door / Trust Fall / Mob Wife (with Mevrouw Tamara) / Superman Can’t Move His Legs / Mary Had a Secret / Sirens / Therefore / Incompatible (unplugged) / One Sunday / Never-Never Land / Plan B / Swim with Sam / Wishes, Horses (with Mevrouw Tamara) // Winterschläfer (Marinus solo) / 10 Things To Win You Over (Marinus solo unplugged) // Robin II / Fortune Teller // Oh, California (Marinus solo)
Setlist Mevrouw Tamara
Leiden / Zit ik vast I / New English song / Leave / In My Cocoon / Goed was zo / Song that’s done on the album with Anne Soldaat that repeats “Ik was daar niet van uitgegaan” quite a few times / Zit ik vast II / Sail to the Moon (Radiohead cover) / English piano song

First Lines: Lud-in-the-Mist

If Neil Gaiman didn’t champion Hope Mirrlees’ Lud-in-the-Mist as much as he does, I would not have read it. He calls it one of the finest fantasy novels in the English language, and he is right. It’s utterly enjoyable. It has also proven to be well beyond my ability to say something coherent about it.

This thing is, it is an delightful little tale — but nothing especially special in the grand scheme of things. It is just so unlike everything else I’ve come across in quite a while, that I just can’t quite wriggle my fingers around it, can’t quite get grasp what it is that makes it so appealing.

Some people point out similarities between Lud-in-the-Mist and Susanna Clarke’s equally wonderful Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, and I see where they’re coming from: both books deal with a world were magic/fairy used to be commonplace, once upon a time. But now the world has moved on, and people look back at those olden times with a feeling of, well, yeah, sure, there used to be fairies and magic and stuff, but that was then and this is now. Now we’re all normal, logical, responsible people-persons, and we don’t go for that. And then, just to spite them, something magical happens and they have to deal with it. It’s fantasy, but not in the Dungeons-and-Dragons, Quest-for-the-Mountain-of-Doom, Orcs-and-other-Tolkien-genre-trappings sense of the genre. It’s more that world is informed by the magical, rather than magic being the thing that makes the world go round. And I like that sort of tale, but I couldn’t for the love of all things bright and shiny tell you why.

Book read
Hope Mirrlees — Lud-in-the-Mist
First line
The Free State of Dorimare was a very small country, but, seeing that it was bounded on the south by the sea and on the north and east by mountains, while its centre consisted of a rich plain, watered by two rivers, a considerable variety of scenery and vegetation was to be found within its borders.

First Lines: Het Sixtijnse geheim

When Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code took The Netherlands by storm, publishers were looking for similar books to exploit. A translation of Philipp Vandenberg’s 1988 thriller Sixtinische Verschwörung — in which a mysterious inscription is discovered in Michelangelo’s frescoes in the Sistine Chapel, and it’s true meaning might (!) destroy (!!) the Holy Catholic Church as we know it (!!!!) — was of course a shoo-in.

Unfortunately, this book isn’t nearly as much fun as Brown’s work. It is dry as Catholic dogma, the writing (or translation, for that matter) — with its pompous Latin phrases, and its annoying insistence on using and reusing the titles of the characters over and over and over again — isn’t engaging, and the secret at its core is, well, meh. It takes ages to get anywhere, and in the end we apparently should believe that the Catholic Church would collapse over some dead guy’s claim that Jesus was just a man that stayed dead once he died, just because Michelangelo hid his name in the Sistine Chapel. It’s not as if religion in general is much informed by the truth anyway, is it?

Book read
Philipp Vandenberg — Het Sixtijnse geheim (Sixtinische Verschwörung, translated by Peter de Rijk)
First line
Terwijl ik dit schrijf, word ik door hevige twijfels geplaagd of ik dit wel allemaal mag vertellen.

First Lines: De eerste maandag van de maand

Peter Zanting’s second novel De eerste maandag van de maand was released on September 1st, 2014. And since that was the first Monday of the month, you could download it for free on that day. Don’t ask me how that link came to me, but it did, and something triggered me enough to download it, put it on my e-reader and, almost two years later, read it. I am glad I did.

De eerste maandag van de maand is a novel about the illusion of having any form of control over your life. There is Boris — born on the first Monday of the month — who loses his handle on his OCD when his girlfriend breaks up with him, on the first Monday of the month. (“I think it should be over,” she said. “I can’t spend the rest of my life with someone who… I don’t even know who you are.”) He then moves in with his father, widowed on the same first Monday of the month his son was born, and he turns out to be just like his son: silent, keeping things inside and hidden from the world. The only way they can help each other is when they face their own weaknesses.

So, the book started out all fun and games, but then the knife came out and plunged in my gut and twisted and turned there. That was when the father recalled how he first started to deal with this OCD-like thing. Through medication, he got his tics under control, but he realized he had burdened his son with its legacy. And that, that is something I can relate to.

Book read
Peter Zantingh — De eerste maandag van de maand
First line
Dat weekend was de klok een uur teruggezet.