Hugh Laurie at the Starlite Festival Marbella

Last night we went to see Hugh Laurie at the Starlite Festival in Marbella.  Before talking about the concert a few words on the Auditorium.   It was built about 30 years ago and involved 3 visionaries which include Julio Iglesias and Plácido Domingo.  It is half way up the mountain side in a disused quarry which forms a natural amphitheatre.  For this festival it appears to have been upgraded with a massive stage and “Starlite Village”, which is essentially a large disco, lounge and VIP area in front of the open air theatre.  You can’t drive your car all the way up, you park half way and a fleet of buses take you to the venue, which is impressive.  The auditorium holds 3,000 people and the stage is huge.  The lounge is mega expensive, €12.50 for a Mojito but then this is Marbella.

The Festival runs from 14 July to 14 August and includes some impressive performers: George Benson, Roger Hodson (voice of Supertramp), Tony Bennett, Christopher Cross, Paul Anka, Simple Minds, Julio Iglesias to mention some and Hugh Laurie.

Yes, Hugh Laurie from House, Blackadder and comic partnership with Stephen Fry in a concert.  The highest earning TV actor in the US and the most watched leading man on TV!  Anyone who watches House will have seen him tinkle on the piano and strum the odd guitar, but in fact he is a very accomplished musician, also playing the drums, harmonica & saxophone, and he is very entertaining.  He has also surrounded himself with equally accomplished backing group of 5 musicians and a singer.  His first Album “Let Them Talk” has been a great success. Here is a video of his performance of the Swanee river in New Orleans.

He loves the music of New Orleans. He is very knowledgeable about his music, he performs a great show, and engages with the audience, giving background to the songs and music as well as entertaining.  In fact a very good night all round.

We had good seats centre stage 11 rows back and here are some of the photos.  I'm sorry I didn't take my D800 with me and only my compact Olympus ZX1

Sting at the O2 Dublin

I haven't been to a concert in years and now 2 in three weeks but what two to go to, Michael Buble and Sting. This time the venue was the O2 and this was also a first for me as I haven't been here since it was renovated from the old Point. But before I cover the concert we first headed with some friends for a pre-concert dinner in Peploes on Stephen's Green, another first.

We had a beautiful meal and very reasonable €25 for a three course meal that was excellent quality, a restaurant I will definitely go to again. A short taxi ride to the O2 which was was short in distance but took a good half hour with all the traffic heading to the concert.

I was very impressed with the O2, 9,500 seated capacity with plenty of bars and very accessible and not a bad seat in the house. Sting was backed by the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra with about 50 musicians in total. Firstly the acoustics were excellent and we didn't leave with ringing in our ears it was a real pleasure to be able to listen to every note so clearly just like listening to your hi-fi in your own sitting room. The energy of the conductor, Stephen Mercurio, transmitted to the orchestra and he really appeared to be enjoying himself and the arrangements were marvellous.

But what about the man himself, well only a couple of days before I heard his album Symphonicity and didn't really like what I was hearing, but in retrospect it's better than my quick listen, so I was worried that this wasn't going to be a great experience but I needn't have worried. He started bang on 8pm and he was only about 30 seconds into his first song and I thought hiw voice was going to break and feared he's not going to last the night. But no, his voice just got better and better.

It's not until you hear the string of hits that you realise what a prolific writer he is and he covered all his best hits:  Lose My Faith,  Englishman in New York (great Oboe), Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic, Roxanne (just great),  Russians, Fields of Gold, When We Dance, Next to You, Moon Over Bourbon Street, Ghost Story, Every Breath You Take and on and on.  He had only one back up singer, Jo Lawry,  which was a bit suprising given the size of the orchestra and she did only one duet I Say Your Name which she did very well and made me want to hear more from her.

All in all we had a great meal, a great venue, a great experience and a great night.

Michael Bublé

I've loved the sound and songs of Michael Bublé since he was first discovered on this side of the Atlantic by Michael Parkinson and I bought his first CD. He is probably the only singer my wife and 4 daughters all agree on and he is continually played in the house or car. I'm not a great concert goer, in fact I can't remember the last concert I went to, that I paid for anyway. We saw Niall Diamond as a corporate outing in Croke Park. None the less I was willing to make an exception for Buble but we were on holidays for his last trip to Dublin and heard rave views from friends who had gone. So when we heard he was here in September we decided the whole family would go.

He is the first artist to perform in the new Aviva Stadium and what a great venue. The setting, stage, lighting and especially Michael Bublé was brilliant. He is not just a great dinger but a great performer and does am excellent show. He charming, chatty, witty and doesn't take himself too seriously. As Sharon says there is nothing worse than an artist who just gets up there and sings their songs without saying a word. Michael engages and entertains the crowd. Surprisingly this is the largest audience, 45,000, that he has performed in front of, he has regularly played to crowds of 25,000, but this he was relishing. He broke the ice with some very funny and entertaining stories and performed a very good mimic of Michael Jackson as part of the show.

Half way through the performance he walked through the crowd singing all the way as he was thronged by adoring fans to a second stage that was set up on the sound equipment half way down the pitch that wasn't immediately obvious to us. The crowd just loved him and he had us all like putty in his hand, a real entertainer and even I, a concert skeptic, would be happy to attend when he comes back again. Well done Michael!

The best photos I could get with my iPhone!