Vancouver was not on the tour map in 2008, but I certainly won’t forget my experience for 2009. It might seem complicated so please bear with me.
To rewind the story a little bit, I bought my tickets once they’re released last October. Several months ago Mrs. Ed (it’s a nick name of Edwina) from Australia said she’d be coming to Vancouver with her husband. We finally met for the first time Apr 30, and I got an extra big hug from Jann. The couple was off to Alaska for 35 days.
The price of a VIP package excluding ticket dropped from USD1500 to USD1250. I got some tax refund and was thinking back and forth and decided to go for it. Deadline was May 12, I’d been waiting for the US dollar to drop so I could save a lunch or two. I even had my order form filled out with credit card number but didn’t get full details from ticketing office so I never sent it. I just couldn’t figure out a proper way for my parents and friends to get to the concert venue and to get home. I’d also have to leave work much earlier if I was going to a sound-check, so I finally had to give up the chance of meeting our dearest André and have a photo taken. Oh well!! Maybe I’ll see him in Australia and have a photo taken for free?? Dreaming ...
To celebrate André’s 30th Anniversary of delivering beautiful music, I custom-made a Canada stamp sheet which I wanted to give him as a souvenir from Canada. I was very surprised to read from the Parlor, just 2 days after I received the stamps, that the Netherlands would have André stamps available in July, so my Canada stamps hatched a little earlier.
So now that I’ve saved over a thousand dollars, I could spend it in some other ways. I wanted to get some souvenirs for the whole André crew but didn’t know what’s proper. They still need to travel, so it has to be light and small, but then I wasn’t sure how many people there were. I finally decided to get those breathing puppies that I sent to Pierre last year. I bought 3 different puppies as their travelling companion in US/Canada tour. A Pug, a St. Bernard and a Chihuahua, and I named them RIEU 1, RIEU 2 and RIEU 3.
More friends bought tickets for the concert since some good seats were released last week, but when the Row 1 seats were released for just $159 each, I wish I had more friends. My S.O.S. message in the guestbook attracted at least one fan. Beate flew over from Germany just to see this concert (and she was already so fast in sending Sue some pics). THANK YOU BEATE!
June 12, The Concert Day
We got there at 7pm and checked out the "boutique" first. I bought a 30th anniversary T-shirt and Tour books. We’re on the floor and had seats in Row 15. As soon as we got to our seats, I needed to find someone to receive my "André souvenirs": the stamps, the 3 puppies, and a few more gifts. I worked for some gala concerts before at the same venue so I knew my way quite well. I walked towards the backstage area….and guess who I first talked to??? Mr. Bodyguard Johann!! He kindly helped me bring all the gifts to André and when I later talked to him again, "Are they real stamps? How is that possible?" he asked. (Yep! Those are real stamps, Johann, they can be used as domestic postage). I’ll just say Johann is a very nice and helpful guy, but I won’t say much more, otherwise, this poor guy needs his own bodyguard pretty soon. (THANK YOU, JOHANN!!)
Several fans came over to say hello. Cindie, whom I first met in Toronto, brought along 5 of her 8 children (did I get it right, Cindie?). What a potential musical family! That familiar face from Germany came over as well, so we took a picture. When Beate told me she’s going back to Germany the next day, I thought "What? You’re here just for the concert? WHOW" You fans are amazing!!
A few more guestbook visitors came to say hello and I’d like to thank them all. It’s funny, I was like a mother giving away her daughter at a wedding banquet and friends came to congratulate me. My dad, my friend and myself were giving away those 450 little flags and guess who’s there taking pictures of us "in action"? Mr. "Still-Don’t-Know-What-Name" security guard. I saw him 3 times already and I wish I knew his name by now, but "Sorry!" (at least I saw him smile this year!) One audience member asked "Excuse me, do you know who won the hockey bla bla bla…?" I said "I don’t care about hockey, I only care about André!" and we all laughed! I got many questions before while giving out the flags: where did you get that T-shirt? Is there an intermission? Is there a washroom on this level? Are those flowers real? Can someone turn up the air conditioning?
It was 7:59pm, Mrs. Ed and Jeff were waving at me from the side section (row 20 ??) so I ran up to them. As soon as I began to talk, the 76 Trombones started. When they say they start at 8pm, they really mean they start at 8pm SHARP, every time! I had to wait for the traffic light while all the orchestra members marched in. Luckily the 76 Trombones was still on when I got back to my seat and reached for my camera.
It was a very pleasant entry with some enthusiastic audiences waving the flags. Though it’s nothing compared to the Ajax game, I still hoped they would help boost everyone’s spirit!
Although I expected the program to be the same, and it was, as the Ottawa one which Al Girard shared on the Parlor in April, it’s still different to experience it all in person. It’s entertaining to hear André’s "jokes", it’s fun watching Cord taking Polaroids (Beate got 1 out of the … 10??) while André posed nicely, though there’s no way the little pictures ever reached Row 15, at least I got a bonus as the bull stepped on my foot when trying to "smell" or "kiss" the woman in front of me!!
The Three Tenors get better and better every year, Carla’s voice in the Doll Song was even more amazing than before, Mirusia was singing with all her happy soul, Kalki was pretty impressive too. Ruud’s not there, so it’s probably his turn babysitting at home while Lin goes on tour. No Frank, no Kremi, 6 girls in choir. Not too many standing ovations, just a few, but the applauses were quite loud and extended, so I’d say the response was not bad at all. I found it a much more enthusiastic crowd than that in 2007.
During intermission, I ran up to the 300 level to meet my friend on wheelchair and her mom thanked me again for introducing André’s music to her. After a little chat, I had to go to the restroom. I then went down to the floor and then ran up to Mrs. Ed again on the opposite side of the arena since I still hadn’t got a chance to talk to her yet. I did more running in those 20 minutes than I normally did in a whole month.
During encores, me and my dad were holding up some banners. It was sooo warm I could already smell my underarms and so I didn’t dare to put up my hands too high at first. It took André sometime to turn his head to where I was standing and when he did see us, I think he was looking at me for some 6 seconds if not 8 (well, I just assume he’s looking at me and not the banners).
It’s packed in front of the stage but I tried to find my way towards the middle. If salmon swims upstream, so could I …. I was finally standing right in front of HIM. He started to play Lullaby and I said to the woman next to me "We HATE Lullaby!" ‘cos it’s always the real ending! No more 1,2,3,4,5. No more what shall we do. No more you go home, I go drink. THAT’S IT!
Hey! But we could still wait for André’s autograph at the bus. We’re lucky! Weather was very nice, a little breeze without rain, about 14 people there waiting and we waited for about 50 min. I got an autograph and Mrs. Ed got her Live in Australia CD signed. He only signed a few and then had to leave. I got mine! YES!!!
Okay, folks, guess that’s it, no more! But here comes my surprise again! Suddenly a pretty girl popped up right in front of me. I was hugging her and screaming so loud those people on the other side of the street could probably hear me. It was Mirusia walking over to me to thank me for the gift I gave her. It was so nice of her as she was in a hurry already. Kerstin came by to thank me as well as I had something for her little princess. We’re all so happy to see these friendly people and certainly a nice bonus for a grand finale.
Time to say goodbye to Beate who’d be taking the flight back to Germany the following afternoon. I told Mrs. Ed that I’d be picking her up in the morning.
June 13, an Emergency Change in Plans!
I picked up Mrs. Ed at 11:00am in a hotel downtown, just a block around General Motors Place. They had a midnight flight for Australia. I intended to bring them to a late lunch after a bit sight-seeing of Vancouver. I drove by where I used to work and was just telling them that Ruth and Bobbie came here too in 2007. While we’re still talking, suddenly Mrs. Ed held up her hand and pointed "Look! The bus!!" (and she sounded as if she needed an oxygen mask). MY GOD! What kind of timing is this? If I wasn’t picking them up at that time, and wasn’t taking them to where I thought we’re going, we wouldn’t be at the same intersection as the RIEU buses. We’re heading east to west, while the buses were going north to south. We saw a RIEU bus waiting at the red light on our right side and we waved while proceeding at our green light. The driver probably thought "Who (the heck) was that?" While we’re still trying to believe what we just saw, I said "Shall we follow them (to wave goodbye)?" "That’s a good idea!" said Mrs. Ed. I then turned at the next light as I was confident that I could catch up with them. Yep! We drove by all 3 RIEU buses and after a traffic light, I was in front of RIEU 1, i.e. with Taanda watching the back of our car, with the André bumper sticker (on the rear window) and A RIEU plate. I asked the Aussies "Have you been to White Rock" Jeff said "No", Mrs. Ed asked "Where’s White Rock", Jeff remembered "That’s the border". Okay, we have a slight change in our itinerary, let’s go to White Rock". The Aussie woman said "I like that slight change". Someone waved from the bus too but since the window was tinted we couldn’t see who it was. We can’t explain how we got into this luck in timing but it’s for real. The buses and our car were like Twitter, I follow you, you follow me.
We saw from the rear mirror a man in dress shirt with a tie sitting right behind driver’s seat, so we figured it must be André. Sorry André if we scared you and the drivers, but we didn’t plan on stalking you for 35km, we just got toooo excited and wanted to "escort" you and made sure you’re all fine J. Mrs. Ed had a balloon from the concert but didn’t want to poke it in the hotel as she thought it’d be too noisy (in case it’s mistaken for gunshot??) so we still had it in the car.
When the RIEU Buses came near the exit for all buses/trucks crossing the border, we drove by them, honking at each RIEU bus and waved goodbye (I seldom honk but there were no other vehicles then so guess it’s okay.) Jeff saw Taanda laughing as Jeff waved his blue balloon at her bus. Oh! What a day! We thought we were in heaven at the concert night and just when we came down we’re sent up there again!
We did go to White Rock eventually and we went to a few other places as well. The Aussies arrived safely at the Vancouver airport and would be busy preparing her side of the story and pics when they get home! ... Alice
This was a long one Alice and I LOVED it!! Hope those "Bumps" are feeling better now!! ;-)