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8 and 9 August 2008

Live at the Roma: in the heart of swing with Helmut

[Recording of the TV Special and of the DVD "Time to swing"]

Back from ANTWERP... where we would have loved to stay in this pleasant music hall atmosphere.
Once again we were lucky enough to take part in the recordings of Helmut's new DVD Time to swing.

The French fans are H A P P Y, enchanted and satisfied. THANK YOU, HELMUT.

During these two evenings in the Roma, Helmut was "extremely brilliant" and really fantastic, particularly on the second evening with a slightly changed repertoire.
I would like to tell all of you that the first part of Friday seemed to be a little too slow. In the second part, however, Helmut made his audience swing as he can do it.

The Artist seemed to be in full shape to us, shining, with a voice that was top, clear and modulated well. He showed the smile of a perfect charmer, and his patience, kindness and humour were omnipresent as always. Wearing a black suit with a waistcoat and a white fancy handkerchief with a perfect cut and a black tie on a white shirt, he was very nice to look at, always with this natural and refined elegance that characterizes him.

Two excellent evenings that we experienced with all our bodies, all our ears, all our hearts together with our excellent crooner-swinger and that we will remember for a long time.

When we took our seats at the balcony of the Roma, we noticed at once that was a wonderful hall to receive Helmut and Time to swing, having wooden sculptures and borders that were worked very well, a ceiling decorated with a very beautiful rosette, beautiful paintings on the walls and a very nice design on the two balconies. Unfortunately all these beauties at this place of the hall seem to wait for repair and plastering to me, just like the walls, which are waiting for being painted. In my opinion, this gives a look a little sad to this balcony. Around the ranks, a row of tables is placed, and a little lamp is illuminated. The landscape of the ground floor must have been more beautiful. However, I cannot judge this because I was not there. I trust the fans who say the walls "were shining in brown and red, very gentle colours.".

During these two concerts, we were bathing in a glowing heat, and everybody used a scarf or a fan of luck for trying to refresh their faces. We sweat a lot .
It is true I was not seated too badly and I had no difficulty seeing Helmut move on the stage. On the second evening, however, the telescopic arm of the camera sometimes passed in front of my nose and cut our singer in two parts. But this doesn't really matter, and I do not intend to complain even though I would quite obviously have been delighted to be seated on the ground floor, just like in Hamburg .

Finally the curtains of the Roma opened on a gigantic scenery, which was worthy of the Tales of One Thousand and One Nights and frankly took our breath at the first moments.
In the background of the stage and on each side, skyscrapers rising before a starlit sky took us to New York, just like by the stroke with a magic wand. This was a stylish and very sober scenery with which the beautiful eyes of light were playing in a very sweet-and-sour manner while giving life to the buildings as well as the discrete and beautiful desks marked with the initials "H L" in silver letters, behind which the 25 musicians and 6 choir singers (3 gentlemen et 3 ladies) had taken their seats.

There were 9 violins, violoncellos, contrabass with Bertrand, guitars, drums, piano with Thylaine, trombones, trumpets, clarinet . but no saxophones, just like Helmut had announced in one of his messages. The Golden Symphonic Orchestra in all its splendour and headed by . guess who . our conductor André, whom we had missed so much and who came back to our greatest pleasure for the time of these exceptional evenings. This was a very nice surprise indeed.
Astonishment and satisfaction were guaranteed to the whole hall when André entered the stage and a very warm and enthusiastic welcome by the audience greeted him.
All the gentlemen in the orchestra and choir were wearing black suits with a black bow tie on a white shirt. The ladies, for their part, wore black dresses. Still very sober!
A majestic and shining stair with the shape of a half-circle was dominant on the right side and was connected to a little stage high above. The main stage where Helmut had to "operate" was black and as shining as a mirror. It showed a beautiful space that was to enable Helmut to navigate at ease depending on his dancing steps.
All the sweet colours of the rainbow were faded in one after the other by the lighting technicians and subtly caressed the skyscrapers that took life intermittently.
This special scenery was extremely beautiful and shining everywhere, very classy and elegant, fitting the artist's image.
The choir singers were right of the stair, and the musicians were on the left, and like always, the little stair separated the strings from the wind instruments.

In the Roma, a typical swing atmosphere was reigning, and the club on the ground floor, which was created for this occasion, offered a bar on the right. There individuals with smokings and beautiful dresses were propping themselves up. In the middle of the hall, little tables with lamps and champagne were waiting for the customers majestically.

Enter this club in the heart of swing with Helmut!


Many surprises were waiting for us and were following one after the other in an a way that really inspired us.
Helmut, who had not contented himself with "crooning" in his previous concerts, also became a perfect "swinger" wrapping us all with his dancing steps and tap dancing. Swing perfectly fits him and seems to have been invented for him.
The repertoire can please those who are most sceptical if there are still sceptical persons, after all.

After the musical introduction Time to swing , which was played by the GSO, Helmut entered the stage. He majestically came down the stage shining with light under ovations from the audience and in the limelight. He was accompanied by eight beautiful dancers of the German NDR Ballet. All these ladies were dressed all in white, were wearing bodies with paillettes and long coats. On their heads, they were shaking big white panaches . The choreography was worthy of a show in a casino in Paris . Helmut took part in it by singing Mack the knife in its English version, which was joined by the German version on the following evening. This was a beautiful entrance. All this was very shining and extremely beautiful. The tone and colours of these evenings were set.

I was certain at that moment that everybody was thinking like myself : that it was nice to see Helmut again and to hear him after these long months of waiting and in this dream scenery.
He welcomed us by explaining the history of the Roma and its illustrious tenants.
Then he went on with a song that was very swing, That's life, and the beautiful Fly me to the moon, which first only was accompanied by the piano and violins, which were soon joined by the brass instruments. What a beautiful voice .
Danke schön, which was sung in German, definitely aroused beautiful reactions among the fans from this country.
Helmut himself was, of course, honoured with a beautiful declaration of love to the woman he loves. Beautiful tune and sweet words for Heavenly match on earth.

Cabaret, which is known from Liza Minnelli, took us to the Moulin Rouge , where Helmut met a beautiful girl with a bowler hat and black and shining costume, who was very sexy, sitting on a chair and moving her legs in harmony with the swaying of the music. Other dancers in coloured dresses joined our two actors at the end of the performance. Little staging, which was very beautiful, and Helmut made his beginnings in musicals.
King of the road, which I did not know, really conquered me thanks to its beautiful tune.
La mer by Charles Trenet, which was sung in English on the first evening (Beyond the sea), was the sting of the show for the French fans on the second evening. A very beautiful surprise with this masterly revival in Molière's language (as Catherine put it) and in a swing version. Superb! And a great pleasure to hear Helmut in our language again. I like the English version. But frankly speaking, I think the French lyrics are so poetical that they alone can truthfully reflect the atmosphere. This also was a real treat for our ears because this magnificent song was arranged so magnificently. We strongly hope to find this song in this version on the album and the following concerts again. All of you must hear it!

A second song written and composed by Helmut In the arms of a stranger took him to the bar, where he was sitting on a stool and showing his back to the audience. His voice was crooning this beautiful romantic tune with emotion.
Then there was Cry me a river, which also was very beautiful. This song was followed by Love letters, which is very well known because of Elvis Presley. For this song, Helmut, who had come back to the bar, was joined by the 1 st violinist Milena, who made the strings of her violin cry in order to tell us about love.
Helmut, who was still at the bar, took up Perfidia in Spanish. This time he was accompanied by a guitar player from Malaga . He did so in order to show that swing did not exclusively belong to the English language but could perhaps also advantageously be sung and danced in other languages, such as Spanish, Italian or French.
Before this, Helmut and this excellent musician had joined forces to perform a duo in an original version of their invention Solamente una vez. This was an interlude that was highly appreciated.
I won't cry anymore and Wanted terminated the first part of this show. To me it seemed these two titles had already been heard some time ago in Knokke but we loved to find them again.

The break is welcome, and all of us, who were in an indescribable crowd, tried to reach the bar in order to quench our thirst, a temperature of about 40° reigning on the balcony here. This can cause discomfort.
Having a very fresh orangeade in my hand, I had the pleasure to get to know two fans from the north of France, Patrick et Michèle . They were very nice, and as you can imagine, I exchanged my first impressions on Time to swing. Thank you, Patrick and Michèle, for having come up to me so nicely.

It was soon time to go back to our seats again in order to discover the sequel of this new album. The second part of the show opened with a new composition written byHelmut, Around you, which was very beautiful, just like he can do it. This song was followed by More.
Friday evening he served us with a piano version of Are you lonesome tonight, which was played by Thylaine so well. The next evening, he replaced this song with Danny boy so harmoniously. These two titles are crowned with success.
On Saturday, Helmut swung to an Italian aria Ti guardero nel cuore. Charme and enchantment were guaranteed, and the exercise was very conclusive.
Then it was the hour of my favourite song Fever, which I know because of Elvis. This song is a treasure, a real masterpiece in this repertoire. I was pleasantly surprised by the excellent acting of our crooner, which was rhythmically accompanied by the music. This time the truculent choreography performed by Helmut and his brilliant interpretation won him several minutes of applause with a rare intensity. This was moving, a real pleasure. This absolutely needs to be eternalized on the album and, of course, the DVD.


Finally we found, this evening exclusively, the world hit by Nat King Cole, Love, in an explosive duo with a young and talented British jazz singer, Claire Teal. She was unknown to me but has a remarkable voice. Her solo voice was highly appreciated and applauded when she was singing an a capella version of one of her songs. Really very beautiful. Unfortunately duties were waiting for her on Saturday evening, and Helmut sang Love alone. Of course, we did not dislike that.

The Roma, which already was overheated in all respects, exploded with the famous "swing medley", which we all know because we have heard it so many times at the numerous preceding concerts and which always keep being appreciated, after all. The whole hall is standing not to lose anything from this astounding exercise and to be doped by the spectacular energy that Helmut develops on the stage.

It already is later than midnight when he took up Bad bad Leroy Brown and Reed petite, two songs typical of the swing era. Everybody knew the first one with the French version sung by Sylvie Vartan.
Time to swing, the 4 th song written and composed by our Star, terminated the presentation of this new project with a lot of swing and temperament and a dance of the most devilish girls performed by the ballet.

To conclude these two evenings, there was the famous "lullaby" announced by Helmut, which was, in fact, a breathtaking medley, where the dancers on the stage and the audience in the ground floor abandoned themselves to a devilish rock and were accompanied by the fans who were standing and swinging on the balcony. This "lullaby" closed these recordings in a fantastic final.
Standing ovations, applause, shouts and bravos welcome Helmut's performance with fervour, and unfortunately, the curtain was lowered at the Roma.

Two beautiful evenings! A real success!

An exceptional symphonic orchestra elevated by the Master's hands of the conductor André, the remarkable arrangements of Wim et Helmut and a classy and esthetical scenery, which are the case receiving Helmut's voice.

The dancers with colourful dresses and costumes, who accompany the artist and give imagination to several songs, for letting a slight touch of music hall reign here.

A variegated repertoire that swings softly or electrifies very strongly. All songs are beautiful songs, which are gold-plated by the talent of our Golden voice. As Colette puts it so perfectly, you have the impression every time that the other versions look pale as compared to his versions.

A music that is electrifying and interactively communicates with the audience. And Helmut feels at ease with his dancing steps, swings so well and has exuberant energy at these swinging rhythms. "Swing" can be felt, and doubtlessly Helmut "has a lot of swing".

Without obvious effort, this warm and melodious voice with the special timbre makes this journey to the swing years and guarantees enchantment. I was impressed by the fact that Helmut unrolled all these new songs like on a rolling carpet perfectly, without interruption and without hesitation as if he sang them for the x th time. Everything was flowing with a confusing ease, a course without mistake. Wonderful work, very much appreciated. The only thing to do was to state the success he had.

The choir singers with beautiful voices, who respond to Helmut with generosity and fervour in order to underline the tunes even more.

I must also say that I like his own songs, which are tender and romantic and, in particular Time to swing, which is very good to dance with and is the highlight and culminating point of the show.

I'm also sorry I do not speak Dutch. For unfortunately, I have not understood anything of all the explanations Helmut gave during these evenings. Very frustrating and quite a shame.

It also is astonishing and very pleasant to state that Helmut always is remarkably fresh to greet his audience in the late evening.

By way of summary, the Artist with a capital "A" glittered throughout these festivities so much that he inspired us and astonished us with the quality of his performance. He masters his new show with perfection. All the attributes and superlatives given to him are completely adequate and merited, and he draws a perfume of perfection, which I like a lot, with him.

The CD and DVD promise to be very beautiful, and I wish them a lot of success.

As for us, the French fans, we also had some glorious minutes Friday afternoon. We were thankful we could go to the Roma with Catherine . We were soon joined by Jacqueline and Robert . While we were admiring the big poster announcing Time to swing, we had the pleasure to be accosted by a journalist of the TV channel RTL and his team. They were surprised to see that French fans travelled abroad to applaud Helmut and that they had done so for almost ten years.
After a pleasant conversation, this journalist suggested his interviewing us. We were delighted to accept this idea as you can imagine. We did what we had talked about. We simply answered the questions, and it's not necessary to tell you that we were not sparing of praise for Helmut and his work.

I cannot tell you what broadcast this journalist, who was accompanied by a cameraman and sound engineer, collected our reports. But according to him, the broadcast will be sent in late August. I will definitely inform you on the forum as soon as I know more.

Useless to say that we had a magnificent weekend among friends, which is terminated with the hope to find the CD in France as soon as it appears.

You can discover other photos of the concert: Instantanés du concert (Snapshots of the concert) and Instantanés de bonne humeur (Snapshots of good humour).

{With the kind participation and the excellent translation by Suzanne GROTTI. Thank you very much Suzanne.}

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