Seeing the hordes of grey-haired fans walking towards the concert venue – in this case Köln’s Lanxess Arena – it’s easy to be dismissive of the ‘easy listening’ aspect of Roger Whittaker’s repertoire, but when you know for a fact that two hours later those fans will be dancing in the aisles, you understand that Roger is no ordinary singer.
Speaking of aisles; this time Roger entered from the back, and came down the aisle on my side. He often does this, but usually I sit on the left, whereas this year Son and I were on the right. I’m glad that Roger moved accordingly. The young and callous Son wondered if Roger was up to all this, but on studying his sprightly climbing of the stairs onto the stage concluded that he needn’t worry.
For the most part the programme was similar to the last few tours, with a couple of new songs thrown in. We like the old songs. Why change a winning pattern?Wonder what I would have thought 42 years ago if I’d known that I’d be in Köln hearing Roger sing New World in the Morning in German all those years later? Most songs were in German, with a few sung in English. I think you get more of them the further west Roger is.
Most of the band have been with Roger for several tours and so has singer Angie Horn, while Anya Mahnken was new, and she has a great voice. Good old Künstlerbetreuung George Thornton was there, handy with his mobile phone when Roger felt the need to phone up for 2000 beers for his friends in the audience. I suppose we needed to drown our sorrows over this being Roger’s very last last tour. He did seem to mean it. The ‘goodbye Köln’ sounded heartfelt.
He started with Albany and went on to Alles Roger and Shannon River Lady. Mexican Whistler, The Last Farewell and Sawa Sawa were followed by Sieben Jahre, sieben Meere, Die letzte Rose and then it was time for another bad green hat to accompany Uncle Benny. I think Roger could do with a hat-putter-on person, as this hat was very flat and lopsided, albeit covered in shamrocks. We had Chengalip where we all hey-heyed as well as ever, and the girls persuaded Roger he’s not quite past it as far as Blue suede shoes is concerned. The first half ended with Liebe endet nie.
Then it was time for more beer and sausages for the German audience, with the odd Brezel thrown in. Not sure if people were cutting down on the eating and drinking, but there were definitely fewer gifts and flowers. Times are hard. I don’t think it’s that people don’t feel Roger doesn’t deserve gifts.
Dankeschön and Goodbye Geronimo kicked off the second half, and after River Lady Angie sang Leben mit dir with Roger and with Anya he did Ein schöner Tag. Das Lied von Aragon is always stirring stuff and that goes for Die Schneeweißen Tauben, too. Wir sind jung and Lass mich bei dir sein were followed by the appropriately titled Abschied ist ein scharfes Schwert. I’m sure I saw Roger wipe away tears.
Eloisa sort of finished the second half, except we always know it doesn’t. Roger took very little persuading to sing Danke Deutschland, which brought everyone to their feet. Yes, even me. As I wasn’t actually taking notes at the time, being too busy with the dancing (all right, the wriggling of hips and things, and stamping of feet and clapping of hands), I have totally forgotten what the next song was.
But we all know what has to come last; Ein bisschen Aroma. Roger went over to George for a quick sip of something, before launching into the last (?) Aroma for Köln. Most of us who could, flocked to surround the stage, stamping and clapping and singing along. And as usual Roger disappeared off, leaving the band to finish. Though he did stop to say goodbye, so maybe he really means it this time.
(Photos by Ian Giles)