Michael Vanhevel connects with his fans, gives stellar performance at Sarnia’s historic Imperial TheatreArts/Entertainment/Culture, Feature, Opinion — By Joe Burd on February 11, 2012 at 2:08 pm
A lot of performers have donned a suit, stepped up to the mic and made an attempt at the classics and gold standards. It's a captivating cannon of music which is ageless and immediately resonates with a music fans of all ages.
The problem, though, when you sing classic songs is that it's nearly impossible for people not to compare you and your performance to the great performers who originated them.
Michael Vanhevel, who hails from Grand Bend but now lives in Oakville, seems keenly aware of this fact and the range of his voice, and he uses the music and style of the masters such as Sinatra, Bobby Darin, The Drifters and even more contemporary artists like Michael Bublé as a jumping off point for his own unique, eclectic sound and style.
Vanhevel has an outstanding stage presence and an extraordinary talent for showmanship and style. It would be easy for a good looking, well-dressed crooner to have an ego to match, but Vanhevel remains humble, gracious and emotionally honest on stage.
Last night, Vanhevel, who performed in front of a sold out crowd, transformed the atmosphere and ambience at Sarnia's historic Imperial Theatre with his fittingly coined show, Come Fly With Me, into something very magical and memorable. And that's exactly what he asked everyone in attendance – to come fly with him for a grand performance of classic and contemporary masterpieces.
When he first took to the stage to join his friends that had already opened with an instrumental number, he instantly connected with the audience and poked fun at his own inexperience playing in front of such a large crowd saying, "Wow, this is a real concert."
It was also evident last night that Vanhevel was playing in front of a very enthusiastic, almost-hometown crowd, having grown up in nearby Grand Bend. He pointed out his parents in good nature several times and came down off the stage at least twice to mingle with the audience that included many of his own friends and family.
Sliding across the stage like a seasoned veteran, Vanhevel always looked like he was having a good time. He has an infectious energy that lights up whatever he sings.
One of the best, more emotional moments in the show was when Vanhevel talked about his friend, who he only mentioned by his first name Jerry, then went on to sing the Dean Martin classic "You're Nobody till Somebody Loves You" which he dedicated to his friend. This was the first song early in the first set that you could hear much of the sold out crowd eagerly start to sing along.
What really made this show great, aside from his masterful vocals, was Vanhevel's ability to interact with the audience, mingle comfortably and with the ease of someone that's been on stage a thousand times.
Vanhevel also demonstrated his acute ability to take any song, regardless of genre, and turn it into an instant classic when he performed his own renditions of "The Power of Love" by Huey Lewis, "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" by Queen, and Etta James' "Damn Your Eyes".
As it was getting close to dim the lights and bring the show to an end, Vanhevel thanked the audience and told everyone how special it was for him to be in Sarnia, telling the crowd that Bobby Darin's "Curtain Falls" would be his last number.
After what he said would be his last number, he left the stage and returned moments later to a cheering house and belted out Billy Joel's hit "Why Should I Worry?"
Vanhevel came to Sarnia to give a king's performance and, if you believe the audience's response all night, he not only delivered but went the proverbial extra mile.