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Dinner time in Maastricht During André Rieu Concerts.
We found this article in (the Dutch) Revue magazine from July 2010. We thought it was very funny, because it is a letter to André Rieu, written by a journalist, who happened to be in Maastricht during the concert days in 2010. A different point of view, by a non André fan. And it is quite up to date for 2011, 2012, 2013 and still 2019….. The last word. Dear Andre Rieu, Last week I elected to go to the Vrijthof Square in Maastricht. That was not possible. I did not have a ticket for you. I did not at all want to attend a concert; I just wanted to sit on a terrace. But it appeared all the terraces on the Vrijthof were yours. For eight long days (in 2010). Only those who had purchased an André Rieu arrangement, were allowed to enter the Vrijthof. A total of 25.000! I heard that not one single café or restaurant did not participate. That was unimaginable for me. There is also a Mac Donald's on the Vrijthof. As if they would serve a three course dinner for André Rieu fans there!! And…. yes, there too…. at Mac Donald's too! You could only sit there if you had booked an André Rieu arrangement. A Mac Flurry as dessert??? No, Mac Donald's hired a catering service! Mac Donald's has 31.000 restaurants worldwide. All those restaurants, each day, serve the same rolls, the same hamburgers, in the same boxes. Except during those eight days on one square in the Netherlands, all because one man with a violin decided that. I expected it for some time now, but I am now very sure: I am your fan! Not because of your music, but because of your entrepreneurship. No matter what time last week I turned on the television in Limburg: you were on. It was "André Rieu week" on Limburg TV. Your performances were spectacularly well filmed. That was possible because you sold the images to the German TV. Whoever biked along the square in the afternoon, could hear your voice reverberate all over the square, in German. You recorded all announcements that afternoon in German. They will be added later to the German broadcast. In addition you also sold your concerts to an Australian chain of cinemas. I heard that a record amount of tickets were sold. In Australia, the country where you once gave concerts in the middle of the summer, with two enormous ice rinks! So much electrical power was needed that by the end you actually earned almost nothing. Or could it be that you flew your entire crew over, or…. that you wanted to perform in a different stadium, because your décor did not fit in the first one…. That's what I heard from one of your employees. Maybe it is not even true, but I hope it is. And I believe it, because it suits you. When circumstances are in the way of your plans, then you change the circumstances, not the plans. Only the greatest minds dare to think like that. It definitely decreases the profits, but increases the joy. I once was in a record shop in Milwaukee (USA), and there you had your own display area. There you have really made it! I looked at all your covers and I thought: "All done by himself, earned by himself, under his own silly terms".  Actually that is the essence of punk. And so you are what Nigel Kennedy wanted to be: the biggest punker in the world…. with a violin! Full of admiration, Leon Verdonschot.
On July 14th 2019, we found a column in the Limburg paper, by the same journalist Leon Verdonschot, who in the meantime, had (partly) moved from Amsterdam to Maastricht. Below his opinion about the invasion of André Rieu fans in July, and the comparision with the nuisance of bachelor’s parties in Amsterdam. We thought it was so funny!! I have never seen an André Rieu fan vomit in a planter. Saturday afternoon I cycled through Maastricht when a large group of tourists was released from a bus and celebrated freedom as tourists always do: by crossing the street without looking. The "herd" looking for a drinking place. I cycled on while ringing my bicycle bell hard and repeatedly. From the luggage carrier I heard the voice of reason, not coincidentally also the voice of my girlfriend: "Hey, we no longer live in Amsterdam." She was right. In ten years in Amsterdam my muscle memory has been moved from my foot to my left hand: the bell has won over the brake. Not that I'll never brake again, but only when it no longer cannot be done otherwise, such as with a tourist with a hoodie over his head who, at the sound of my bicycle bell, did not affrightedly look next to or behind him, but looked up. For people who think that the sound of a bicycle bell heralds the return of Jesus, I still brake. Partly leaving Amsterdam also means: to become more civil. Miracle with the violin. The tourists from the bus were indeed on their way to the miracle with the violin. André Rieu has a prosperous, somewhat older audience. In one week I heard people complaining up to three times about that audience. The rain of complaints splashed in all directions, but it all came down to: too much, too slow, strolling side by side through the city, on the way to the Vrijthof, which during his concerts is no longer accessible to ordinary people. The feeling that tourism is a kind of locust plague that eats away a city and moves on, seems familiar to me: in Amsterdam, tourists are just not deliberately being run over by a bicycle, but sometimes it doesn't make much difference. Yet I would rather have thirty André Rieu fans in front of my door than three Englishmen who are on what is called a bachelor party. Rieu fans may not run very fast anymore, but they do walk, and that is really different then wandering. And I have never seen a Rieu fan urinate against a church, vomit in a planter, or fallen down drunk on a beer-bike, obstructing traffic. Pride Furthermore, Rieu fans come to see the biggest international star of our province (we say: country!), shine in his own city, and to admire that city. That should not be an annoyance, but rather a proud moment, just like Rieu himself, a world star who has never forgotten where he comes from. It is not that obvious: Beyoncé does not play every year in her hometown of Houston. I was reminded of this when I was in Hilversum (media city of our country) this week and saw the signs hanging around the Mediapark, with which Maastricht is trying to host the Eurovision song contest. I hadn't even seen the 188-page bid book at that time. A few years ago I was in the city hall of Eindhoven on the day that that city was certain to be declared the Cultural Capital of the Netherlands. Well, yes, OK: Maastricht also had a small chance, just for formalities, and out of a kind of solidarity with the other southerners. Gloomy face But all in all, it was clear: it would be Eindhoven, after all, the smartest city in the country. But it became Leeuwarden. Since then, I know that disappointed children are a gloomy face, but that they still turn out in contrast to adults who mistakenly considered themselves to be the winners. I hope Maastricht succeeds. I also hope that if that is the case, that there will not immediately be a complaint about the first bus full of Eurovision song tourists next year. In the meantime I'm already going to practice learning to brake again.
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