Top Gear live in Amsterdam!
Ann Maher, who went--along with four lucky Expatica readers who came top in Expatica’s draw--to see Top Gear live in Amsterdam for the first time, reports on the automotive mayhem.
Viewed by 350 million viewers in 100 countries, Top Gear has become a global phenomenon. In every programme, a trio of bickering middle-aged men spend enormous budgets, perform ludicrous stunts and race very fast in supercars and less predictably in vehicles they’ve cobbled together themselves. Recently playing at Amsterdam RAI was the show’s latest incarnation: The Top Gear Live World Tour. Hitting eight cities in three continents, it’s automotive mayhem with spectacular action, precision driving and special effects plus regulars from the TV version including car football, and audience participation versions of the Cool Wall and The Lap where audiences in a reasonably priced car compete against each other for the fastest time around the TG track in Dunsfold.
Then, of course there’s motoring man of mystery Stig who was spotted cruising down the canals in Amsterdam before hurling an orange Spyker round the Westerpark Gasfabriek. He’s everywhere in the merchandising, some of which is strangely appealing. Tempted by a life-size cardboard Stig to take home? Yours for twenty euros.
The presenting format for Top Gear Live is Jezza plus Richard Hammond OR James May teamed up with a local. For Amsterdam, which featured on the tour for the first time, it was the Hamster and SBS presenter Beau (Hole in the Wall) van Erven Dorens who tried to get a word in edgeways. And in some ways, it’s quite difficult to see how the show could have worked without him. As May is bundled into a shopping trolley for the car skittles “Oh, do I really have to do this” or humiliatingly last in the teeny cars-we-built-earlier race, it all feels very familiar. Whatever seems to work between them in the studio translates seamlessly to a bigger stage. And just when you begin to wonder what is coming next, there’s a burst of flames. Quite right boys, you can’t have too much fire. Clarkson roves about with a mike during the audience participation slots (be afraid if you are a woman in an aisle seat in the first 25 or so rows) supplying the usual asides on car choice and dress sense -- his own shirt looks like a HEMA Queensday special. The entirely predictable joke about tall Dutchmen “I see eye-to-eye with them. What about you Hammond?” comes very early on.
There are sufficient screeching tyres, roaring engines and smoke to satisfy every rev-head particularly a spectacle neon Fiestas and Stig’s Swampy finale. But as Jeremy points out later in the show, Top Gear used to be about cars. Cue an onstage parade of some of the prettiest, with the predictable squabbling about the virtues of Ferrari and Porsche et al. Outside in the Hall of Fame, which you can visit before or after the show, shiny supercars jostle for space with TG favourites such as the perky Caterham. If you’ve never actually seen a supercar at close range (which is surprisingly exciting, and there’s millions of euros worth here) do arrive early to view or take photos in comfort – the doors open two hours before the live show begins. Also in this area are some hands-on challenges: from sponsor Shell V-Power, a racing car pit stop competition (wheel changing), driver reaction tester (blip the flashing lights), and F1 Playstation driving (form an orderly queue).