Paradiso, the converted church building still inside the Amsterdam rings, was one of the venues for the second day of Cross-linx Festival 2014. A surreal place, if taking in consideration its past, where seats were arranged in the main nave and on the top floor, to make it look a bit more like an amphitheater. This arrangement aided the festival as the Philharmonic Orchestra of South Netherlands later accompanied the two headliners of Cross-linx.
The seats of the nave were quickly occupied. A hush of silence befell the venue before immediate applause accompanied the entrance of ÓLAFUR ARNALDS, the members of the philharmonic and its conductor. Introducing himself to the aware audience, ÓLAFUR ARNALDS mentioned his plans for the night: a repertoire coming from his last album, For Now I Am Winter. Positioned near the piano, the conductor moved his hands as the lights quickly faded to a glow, and the instruments made their firsts sounds. A magical atmosphere was propagated from the stage that captured the audience and ÓLAFUR ARNALDS alike; he seemed to be in a state of trance while perfectly executing his compositions. Quickly at their ends, and after the barrage of applause, he seemed to awake, creating an intimate atmosphere with his audience, explaining the origins of his songs and making some funny comments. The arrival of Arnor Dan on stage brought the show to the next level, where lyrics were added to those emotions coming from multiple instruments, giving words to feelings. The engaged audience went from sitting still while listening to Dan’s impeccable voice, to exploding into thunderous applause–an action that was dished out after every composition. In the smaller room upstairs, Lavinja Meijer performed on a stage facing a curious crowd. With her glittery silver trousers, embracing her enormous harp, she looked like a fairy made of porcelain who was going to make magical spells as she touched the chords. The audience, mesmerized, listened silently while the acclaimed Dutch musician captured everyone’s attention, shepherding the public to a parallel world of quiet and calm. Lavinja Meijer played her most recent album and also some tracks from ÓLAFUR ARNALDS.
Once again, in the bigger nave, festival goers quickly snatched the most wanted seats to comfortably listen to JOSÉ GONZALEZ, who was also accompanied by the Philharmonic Orchestra of South Netherlands. GONZALEZ made a subdued entrance, perhaps playing off of nerves, as he seemed to lose himself a few times in his lyrics, making some mistakes on the first tracks of the night, Heartbeats and Fold. But these soon bled away as the rest were played flawlessly. Tracks from both of his albums, In Our Nature and Veneer, and the most recent ones from the The Secret Life of Walter Mitty‘s soundtracks were accompanied by the Philharmonic, resulting in a sublime mix of acoustic guitar and the full power of an orchestra. Crosses, Cycling Trivialities and Stay Alive seemed to be specially made for an≤ orchestral sound, with a bevy of violins amplifying the emotional possibilities these songs can have. Responding to an encore, JOSÉ GONZALEZ came back to play one last song before disappearing behind the stage, leaving behind an audience filled with wonder and admiration.
The Detroit Party Marching Band quickly shook the awed atmosphere on the main stage, literally bringing a very loud and noisy party to the nave. The enthusiastic members of DPMB only played for 15 minutes, but they channeled all of their energy into beating their drums and blowing their trumpets and clarinets as hard as they could–they even got the audience involved by dancing and sharing in some crazy moves. MY BRIGHTEST DIAMOND made a brief appearance as a supporting act during the last few minutes DPMB’s performance before leaving the room to prepare for her own show. MY BRIGHTEST DIAMOND’s performance was intimate, while still remaining humorous, a mix that kindled a strong affection for the artist. She especially touched the crowd when she played I Have Never Loved Someone, which was dedicated to her husband somewhere in the crowd. The strength and charisma of Shara Worden, however, did not leave after this serenade. She further entertained the crowd with her cardboard camouflages and amazing, powerful vocals. ‘Divina, divina!’ was repeatedly heard rising from the members of the first row throughout her performance.