Books in 2011

Better late than never, right?

I didn’t read as much as I wanted, unfortunately. Fortunately however it seems like I was lucky and picked a lot of books that I ended up loving! My absolute favourites were American Gods, The Count of Monte Cristo and The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Details of my 2011 challenge can be found here. And my reading challenge for 2012:

2012 Reading Challenge

2012 Reading Challenge
Carola has read 7 books toward her goal of 30 books.
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But let’s hope I’ll find the time to read more than this!

[Musical report] Tanz der Vampire in Stuttgart

In March last year I went on a small pilgrimage to Stuttgart to see the German production of Tanz der Vampire with one of my German homegirls. The moment we arrived in Stuttgart we were greeted by these posters:

I was impressed by Stuttgart. I had no idea what to expect but the city was beautiful, especially the Schlossplatz.

So, that evening we headed to the theatre for the show! The area around the theater is really nice by the way, with a shopping mall (with a store selling musical merchandise!) and a cafe with amazing coffee!


This wasn’t the first time I saw Tanz der Vampire, as I was lucky enough to see the Flemish production too. However, the German and Flemish productions differed quite a bit. The Flemish production was much smaller but you could definitely feel the love that was put into it. This was the same in the German production, but it was much more grand, with a larger stage and an orchestra. Both versions however have definitely found their way into my heart!

The music of this German production was amazing. Better than any cast CD I’ve heard. And from a linguaphile point of view German is most definitely the best language to see this musical in. It was simply hilarious, with my favourite lines being Krolock’s sie müssen mir ihr Buch signier’n, und lange lange bleeeeiiiben and Herbert’s das wird gigaaaantisch romaaaaantisch.

In Stuttgart we went to see the production on two consecutive days and got a completely different cast on both days. On Saturday night we got the first cast. Both casts were incredibly good.

Saturday cast:
Von Krolock Jan Ammann
Sarah Sabrina Auer
Alfred Krisha Dalke
Professor Abronsius Christian Stadlhofer
Chagal Christoph Leszczynski
Magda Linda Konrad
Herbert Florian Fetterle
Koukol Stefan Büdenbender
Rebecca Jeanne-Marie Nigl

Sunday cast:
Von Krolock Kevin Tarte
Sarah Antje Eckermann
Alfred Tim Edwards
Professor Abronsius Christian Stadlhofer
Chagal Florian Soyka
Magda Linda Konrad
Herbert Florian Fetterle
Koukol Lucas Theisen
Rebecca Jeanne-Marie Nigl

On Sunday morning we headed out to the theater early for the backstage tour. It was really interesting and fun! Tanz der Vampire involves a lot of technique and it was interesting to see how they did some of the tricks. Also fascinating to see that the bed from Carpe Noctem is really just that: a bed. Pretty amazing! And funny thing: before we went backstage we were given garlic to ‘keep the vampires away’. We weren’t going to need it though, because damn, the garlic smell of the stage was awful haha. I suppose I got my answer to “are you using real garlic in the show?” haha. Another interesting detail: the cast consists of 11 nationalities!

Finally, best piece of merchandise? I think so:

Wigtown, Scotland’s National Book Town

On Wednesday I returned from my nearly three week long holiday to Scotland, Ireland and England (in that order). In Scotland I had the opportunity to visit Wigtown, “Scotland’s National Book Town”. It was an adorable little village with various book stores, all with an interesting selection of books and all with that TARDIS effect: bigger on the inside than the outside. Browsing these stores was a delight! Most of the stores focussed on one or more specific topics and there’s something for everyone.

Wigtown

Wigtown
Book shops in every direction.

Wigtown

Definitely worth a visit for every booklover if you’re in the vicinity anyway!

The Wigtown website can be found here.

[Musical report] Dans der Vampieren in Antwerp

On October 16th I went to see Tanz der Vampire (Dans der Vampieren) in Antwerp in Belgium.

It was brilliant! I had heard mixed opinions before, mostly about bad sound, but it wasn’t anything that I was bothered by during the musical. It was the first time I saw this musical though, so I have nothing to compare it to.

With this musical, I just love the combination of it being sort of dark and mysterious yet hilarious. It really helped that the actors were pretty good at the ‘hilarious’ part, especially Sébastien De Smet as Professor Abronsius, and Koukol’s actor (Von Krolock’s assistent, I don’t know who played him since it was an understudy). I also love the plot twist at the end, haha (note: my favourite musical = everyone dies, usually XD).

All the actors were really good singers too, I was honestly impressed. The dancing was good, not always 100% perfect, but not in an annoying way. And some dancers showed real skill, especially all the lifts and almost acrobatic dancing in some parts of the musical.

So although not all aspects seperately were perfect, everything combined it was awesome, fun and sometimes even very emotional. I LOVED THIS MUSICAL, THE END.

After the show, two of the actors were doing a singing session (Frank Hoelen (Chagal) and Niels Jacobs (Alfred)), and I decided to get my stuff signed (programme book, cd and ticket). I’m never really excited about signing sessions (for various reasons) but this one was fun. They were really sweet and funny, and really took a lot of time to talk a bit and make the signature personal 🙂 Altogether it cheered me up immensely and I’m thankful for that!

[Live report] L’Arc~en~Ciel TOUR 2008 L’7~Trans ASIA via PARIS~

On May 9th, the day of the concert, we arrived at Le Zenith around 11:00. After a looooong wait, sometime after 18:00 if I remember correctly, the doors finally opened and we ran inside. Went right for merch and seats, and we got us great spots in the center, around stage-height. Got us some more merch, waited some more, did ‘the wave’ a couple of times with the whole audience which was very amusing, then a little after 20:00 the show finally started!

Setlist
01. get out from the shell -asia version-
02. Driver’s High
03. Killing Me
04. DRINK IT DOWN
05. DAYBREAK’S BELL
06. winter fall
07. 花葬
08. My Dear
09. forbbiden lover
10. MY HEART DRAWS A DREAM
11. Caress of Venus
12. REVELATION
13. SEVENTH HEAVEN
14. Pretty girl
15. STAY AWAY -member change version-
16. READY STEADY GO
17. NEO UNIVERSE
18. HONEY
19. Link
20. あなた

They opened with get out from the shell, and we could only see their silhouettes for the first bit of the song. And I cried my eyes out, which didn’t happen at either of the Japanese lives I went to, it was a big explosion of emotions from the past months. But this live just felt like the first time I saw them, it was just so amazing. Describing it in words doesn’t do it justice at all. The audience was also many sorts of awesome (although I don’t know what the pit was like and the photographing sucked pretty badly :/) and was jumping and cheering and singing along during the whole concert. I’ve never seen such an enthusiastic (and varied) audience ever before.

During Driver’s High everyone was jumping and shouting along the “clash!” and “flash!” bits.

DRINK IT DOWN was awesome to hear live and the light effects were cool. After DRINK IT DOWN Hyde did an MC in French. When he started talking, nobody quite understood what he was saying and most of the audience stayed quiet. Hyde’s puzzled look at that was sort of endearing, haha. He continued in French, something about how he loved to meet French girls XD; And how the show was broadcasted in Japan (in 5 cinemas).

I loved hearing songs like winter fall, 花葬 and forbidden lover. Those are the songs I used to listen to on repeat a few years ago, and they are still some of my favourites to hear. Especially forbidden lover sounded great live, the drums were awesome!

My Dear was just overall sort of cute. Ken was playing keyboard for most of the song and the whole sounded really beautiful.

I was happy to hear MY HEART DRAWS A DREAM since it had been stuck in my head during most of Paris, haha. The song started out with a long and awesome Ken solo, it was amazing!

Caress of Venus was awesome as ever! Everybody was jumping during the song.

Same for REVELATION, everybody was shouting along and jumping. This song is always so amazing live! After REVELATION Ken was doing an MC, also in French. I don’t remember exactly what he said, but there was some stuff about French food and they showed pictures of the French food, him with the French food and him at one of those tacky souvenir stalls XD

SEVENTH HEAVEN started with a lot of power and they were shooting the silver stuff into the air again. Unfortunately a little bit into the song Ken got hurt and they stopped the song, Hyde said “sorry” and they went off-stage. I’m still not sure what happened exactly and I didn’t see it happen until he was sitting on the ground. Some say he tripped over something, some say he hurt his arm or his finger….. After about 10 minutes they got back on stage, the audience had waited patiently. Ken apologised: “I had to go to the toilet. A big one and a small one. Three times!” HILARIOUS. Thank you Ken! After that they started playing SEVENTH HEAVEN from the start. I think both the band and the audience had some problem getting back into the concert atmosphere but everyone did a good job and the song turned out awesome and energetic anyway.

Then… Pretty Girl. Couldn’t stop laughing. The band was really cheerful and everyone was jumping and shouting along. Ken was teasing the audience.

After Pretty Girl they played STAY AWAY and all of the members were singing. Tetsu’s part was good, then Ken started and halfway he simply dumped his guitar and was being an awesome yet funny vocalist. Then it was Yukihiro’s turn, Ken took over the drums and Yukihiro seemed a bit shy as always but he did an awesome job.

READY STEADY GO got the reaction I had expected of the audience, everybody turned super active (even more than during most of the concert), shouting along, jumping.

Then NEO UNIVERSE, which is one of my and Suuziej’s “special songs”, so we were reeeaaally happy! The intro was a bit different but the performance was awesome. They used one of those disco balls to create light effects. When I saw the disco ball coming down I initially thought they would play Jojoushi, but it suited NEO UNIVERSE really well.

HONEY and Link followed, both awesome songs but I don’t have too much to say about it. Tetsu did a short MC, saying “Do you want to eat my banana?” in French, then threw two banana’s into the audience. Ken got his hands on a camera and filmed the audience.

The last song was あなた, Hyde asked the audience to sing along. As soon as the song started I got sad because the concert was almost over. But the song was really beautiful and although it was difficult most people tried to sing along. It was a beautiful end of the concert, but I was a bit surprised to see the band leave the stage quite quickly.

Some other things that happened but I can’t remember when: Hyde (tried to) licked Tetsu’s bass. Yukihiro did a very short but adorable MC in French. His pronunciation is quite good! During one song, Hyde suddenly disappeared from the stage… turned out he jumped into the audience.

Overall, Ken was definitely the star of the show. He was interacting with the audience a lot (all of them were, btw), his MC’s were funny and he had a huge smile on his face basically all the time. Tetsu looked really tired, and he only seemed more active near the end of the concert. Yukihiro was a bit shy as always. And Hyde gave off this huge Johnny Depp vibe, especially during MCs. The style of the concert gave me a pirate-y feeling, with Hyde’s outfit and the decor and everything.

This concert was definitely the best I ever went to ♥