When my friend asked me if I wanted to see Herman van Veen at the beautiful (it really was a perfect night for an open air amphitheatre) Oude Libertas Theatre last night, I did have to think twice. All I’ve ever seen of him in the past are videos on TV and I wasn’t sure that it would be my cuppa.
Well, it was. Aside from the fact that I hardly understood what he said or sang about; almost the whole show is in Dutch, I was blown away and inspired and riveted by him as a performer. The show was almost two hours long. He was accompanied by the strange, exceptional and delightful Edith Leerkes on guitar, and he sang, told stories and poems, did a few of the weirdest and most hilarious magic tricks and comedy routines, played guitar and violin beautifully and did the funniest dissection of opera I have ever seen.
What blew me away the most was how absolutely unselfconscious he is as a performer. He is entirely comfortable, with himself, his material, his performance, his audience. He is a joy to watch and listen to because he is so completely clear and focused. There are no issues. He has no stuff on stage. He just does it. And it is beautiful, funny and amazing.
After the show we hung around for a bit; my friend knows the people. And when Herman finally appeared after the show, we said thank you. I was struck by how magnificent and clear and engaging he was up close too. Wow.