The stress of choice felt as usual after two missed editions of the North Sea Jazz Festival. The report of three days full of music in Ahoy, without the illusion of being complete.
Erykah Badu 7
She makes her entrance with a witch hat, a long cardigan with a gala allure because of the golden sequins and gives the concept attitude a new dimension. The mysterious singer acts like the queen of the festival. As usual, the diva lets her band warm up for ten minutes before she pleases to show herself to the mob, but then she puts on a fascinating, albeit short, show. Her hip-hop, soul and R&B should get a little more attention than her ego, but it’s never boring these five quarters of an hour.
Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue 8,5
Acts like this are a breath of fresh air. Troy Andrews, aka Trombone Shorty, takes a masterly band along and literally and figuratively blows the room over with funk and soul, with the trombone and saxophones taking precedence. The Americans deliver an energetic set in which Andrews (36) conducts both his band and the audience exuberantly. Trombone Shorty is no stranger to North Sea Jazz, but if he shows up like this every time, he can definitely keep coming back.
Ledisi & Lisa Fischer with the Metropole Orchestra 10
The final day actually had to start, but those who have secured a seat in the Amazon hall at four o’clock are among the winners of the day, or rather of the festival. The American singers Ledisi and Lisa Fischer, in collaboration with the flawlessly playing Metropole Orkest, pay a formidable tribute to Nina Simone. They flirt with each other, with conductor Jules Buckley and with the audience and sing at the highest level. Ledisi’s vocals on Just take me even, Jacques Brel’s song that Nina Simone covered, is horribly good. Lisa Fischer thinks so too, who holds back her tears with difficulty: ‘I thought about taking out the garbage can’. A magical performance.
Michael Kiwanuka 6,5
A headliner for whom the Nile room is too big. Musically there is nothing to fault with 35-year-old Brit, but how emotionally he remains at a great distance from his audience, while you don’t necessarily have to be a gifted orator to make contact with your audience. It’s like watching a DVD where your presence doesn’t matter. As a result, Kiwanuka in Ahoy barely touches and moves. It even gets a little boring. A shame, because it does sound very good.
Diana Ross 8
The biggest star of this festival is programmed on the opening day. You fear the worst after her vocally very shaky performance at Glastonbury, but Ross (78) is on a roll despite a sweltering Nile hall and works her way through her extensive hit repertoire with verve. Baby Love, Stop! (In the name of love), I’m coming out, Upside Down, it doesn’t stop. The dip is in the new repertoire and in her vocal failure in Do you know where you’re going to† Then the overheated soul and disco diva picks up again. That she emphatically relies on her band and her four backing singers will be the worst for the audience.
Nile Rodgers & Chic 8,5
Are you a festival programmer and looking for security? Then call Nile Rodgers (69), the hit artist who is guaranteed to deliver. Comfortable? Perhaps. But does it matter, when a packed Nile room (how appropriate) is dancing as one man/woman? notorious (Duran Duran), Let’s Dance (David Bowie), Material Girl (Madonna), Get Lucky (with Daft Punk and Pharrell Williams), Upside Down (that Diana Ross also sang on the same stage the night before) and then Chic hits are like I want your love and Good Times not even mentioned. Funky, soulful, totally spot on.