I haven’t had too many concerts in the fifteen years I have been playing music professionally, but I definitely played at the most diverse venues.

From the mighty Carnegie Hall to dingy London pubs, from the gigantic Budapest Arena to unused, dusty theatre halls, each concert could not have been more different from the other.

Still, those that know me know that I have never really been enthusiastic about performing live. I am very, maybe overly aware of my niche attraction. I don’t and cannot do rock concerts. I usually say “the louder the concert, the worse performer I am”. I usually work well in intimate settings, where I can sit and have a concersation with the audience between songs. I enjoy having an audience I know, even personally.

There were, however, a few memorable cases. My very first concert with The Unbending Trees took place in London in 2007, on a tiny stage, in front of maybe thirty or forty people, in the stuffy basement of a pub called The Betsey Trotwood. The place was in fact so small that I could touch the ceiling if I reached up, which I found out when singing a cover of “A Whiter Shade of Pale” and got to the line that speaks about the ceiling flowing away. It most definitely did not flow anywhere. That is about as much as I remember from that concert as I applied a bit more Dutch courage than advised, as this being our debut in London on Ben Watt’s Strange Feeling Records, they invited a number of prestigious people, which made me extremely nervous. This was also the first time I met Tracey Thorn, who until then existed in my realm as an icon/legend/star. Little did I know that I would end up singing a duet with her in less than one year.

And there was the Carnegie Hall. Truth be told, I was only a guest artist there, for one song, but that song was only the piano and myself. I had not realized how iconic that venue was, which helped me not being too worried beforehand, and since by then I was through with a lot of different performances, I was sure I was going to be able to wing it. And then I entered the bakcstage on the day of the concert. That place is plastered with walls of past concerts. Edit Piaf. Frank Sinatra. Julie Andrews. The Beatles. Maria Callas. It was overwhelming, intimidating and humbling. The song went okay, I guess, no complaints. And this mild October evening in 2015 was the last time the stage and I saw each other.

And here we go again. In less then a month I will be sitting behind the microphone again, telling my stories, old and new. I am excited. But don’t tell anyone. I have a reputation to keep.

By Kristóf Hajós

The singer of The Unbending Trees - your favourite Hungarian crooner from Amsterdam

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