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Andre Rieu

NO friend of subtlety and absolutely no bedfellow of modesty, Andre Rieu, one of the world's bestselling artists, strikes fear into the hearts of classical music critics.

They should realise his shows are not designed for them, and stay home.

Rieu's particular brand of classical is snappy, brash and adds a liberal dose of schmaltz to the waltz. The men in his Johann Strauss orchestra are in dickie bows and the women in ball gowns lavish enough to make a Disney princess blush for being underdressed. Surely an extra tour bus is needed just for the crinolines. The orchestra is set against a video wall of ever-changing, clangingly obvious scenes, and the stage is decked with poinsettia and Christmas trees.

In a packed Hydro, the band plays Strauss's Roses from the South and This Land is Mine before we have a gentle singalong to White Cliffs of Dover followed by a video message from Dame Vera Lynn herself. There is a very sweet You'll Never Walk Alone and The Gold and Silver Waltz and the Blue Danube Waltz go down a treat, as do Rieu's unabashedly sentimental soliloquies between songs.

There are some genuinely baffling moments. After the interval the women come on dressed as Little Dutch Girls and do a clog dance up and down the front of the stage. Their faces suggest years of classical training did not prepare them for this. The men then appear with vodka and beer while Rieu has his photo taken by Polaroid camera. He then frisbees the snapshots into the front rows; there are scraps between women determined to secure a memento.

The orchestra is a patchwork of personalities - the clarinettist seems particularly exuberant - and a pleasure to watch. Before one final waltz, the programme ends on Amazing Grace, with our jolly clarinettist on the bagpipes. It would probably be beyond Strauss's ken, were he still around to see it, but it's a hoot. You'd have to be the most mirthless snob not to sit back and enjoy it.

A version of this review appeared in later editions of yesterday's Herald.

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