Andre Rieu | The Devil, you knowby Christoph Lenz / 30.03.2011
At the record shop, searching for Rammstein I was quite overwhelmed by gazillions of Andre Rieu DVDs… they were everywhere… what the hell’s wrong with this place when you can’t find some good middle aged German aggro porn rock with pyrotechnics, but you’re beset on all sides by Andre Rieu and Helmut fucking Lotti. Right then and there I decided to take down Andre Rieu and his horrible suburban classical pop. And, just my luck, he was playing a string of South African dates last week.
While organising my accreditation I began to realise how much of a phenonemenon Mr Rieu is. Everybody seemed to have a mother/ auntie/ cousin or ex-boyfriend attending his shows. Not only do they like him. They go totally batshit Beatles mania crazy for him. Now, I know for a fact my mum thinks he’s a sleaze ball. But like an itch you can’t scratch, I wanted to meet this person, to look into his face, shake his hand.
He doesn’t normally allow photographers into his shows. All we were allowed to shoot was the “encore” when he pulled his trump card, the poor ex-street sweeping tenor from Mitchells Plain… The rest of the show had sustained this sheer comedy. I’m almost sure that the brass section were secretly passing a bottle of Jaegermeister around between “hits” and behind Andre’s back… Mr Rieu hardly noticed, between numbers, he was busy “regaling” the crowd with his toxic brand of smarmy, self-satisfied and horribly lame jokes. Tannies swoon, while their Oompies clap and stomp their feet.
Invariably, the scariest thing was the audience. Most of whom you’d mistake for nice and decent people. But, never forget, they are Andre Rieu fans. They clapped wildly after the songs and laughed at all his jokes. It won’t be long before their collective “red rum” moment. I was half-expecting the four horsemen of the Apocalypse to rip the roof off during the encore.
The show was planned down to the tee, a very good production. Rieu, like the devil, conducts with his eyes popping out, giving the audience his back but playing his Stradivari violin perfectly into a camera broadcasting his giant, puffy face on two huge screens to the left and right of the Johann Strauss Orchestra.
When he made his two kettledrum players (dressed like blacksmiths) pretend-fight, stripping down to tight-fitting superhero shirts, we left.
A few days later I went back to the record store to take a picture of the vast Andre Rieu collection… but they were all sold out.
*All images © Cristoph Lenz.