That feeling of going back to reality…it has yet to arrive 4 days after the amazing event that is North Sea Jazz Festival, or NSJ for short. (I attended the 3rd day )
I say this as a woman who has visited a lot of festivals but went to NSJ as a first-timer. Although I’m pretty familiar with Jazz music in general and (most) of the artists weren’t all new to me, I did not expect to enjoy myself as much as I did, and here is why:
First of all there was a great vibe throughout the festival. Usually when you go to festivals there are things you like and things you despise. If you have ever been to festivals, I don’t have to tell you about the lousy toilets, long waiting lines to get a beverage or the people around you getting more annoying (and intoxicated) as the festival progresses. NSJ is completely different to any festival I have ever been to. No beer showers (this has become a standard issue at dance festivals), no (large amounts of) drunk people or intimidating crowds. NSJ is a festival that feels very mature and that feeling is also reflected on its visitors.
Of course, the vibe of an event is also determined by its location. Here in The Netherlands NSJ is held at Ahoy Rotterdam and I think this building works really well. It is spacious and you can really enjoy a concert without bumping into people around you. The great thing that they have added to the in-door concert arena’s is a large food court outside, so you really pick up on the festival vibe and can even get some sun in between sessions.
Artists make or break any festival. It’s almost needless to say you get to see great acts at NSJ. The big plus of this festival to me was that you get to see not one or two, but a lot of great artists without having to pay full-price for just a single concert. This festival really gives you great bang for your buck. The shows are one hour more of less, therefore all your favorite songs are most likely to be performed!
On top of all that, I also got surprised by some terrific performances I came across.
The foremost reason I wanted to attend NSJ was to see Lianne La Havas. The first time I heard one of her songs on the radio I was amazed by the power in her voice and the soul in her lyrics. Some of them touched me so deep I could even cry. My expectations where high and Lianne exceeded them in every way.
To be honest, I was a bit hesitant to see Emeli Sandé perform. I have never put any special interest in her music, because I haven’t been a big fan of her known hit singles. She took away my doubts in a few seconds. Her incredible live performance had me dancing in no time and I actually enjoyed her music. This show really made me see her in a different way and appreciate her more.
Another great artist that was pretty new to me: Gary Clark Jr. It is just heavenly to get introduced to his song Soul. But I did not expect this guy to have some Lenny Kravitz power up his sleeve! I do enjoy some good rock music from time to time so yes this performance was surely the biggest surprise of the day.
Last but not least Lionel Richie. Who didn’t grow up with his music? Even so, I didn’t expect to be jumping on his music. Lionel proved me wrong within ten minutes. He really knows how to entertain a crowd, which in my opinion is 50 % of being a great performer.
To recap: I had such a great time at NSJ, it felt like I went on a mini holiday and it leaves me wanting to buy a three day pass next year!
On a personal side note: my late father used to own three record stores and he always had some great record playing on the turntable at home. I firmly believe I made him proud visiting and enjoying all this great music at NSJ.
Here’s my “icing on the cake” a video compilation I made at NSJ: