Singer Natalia (40) was allowed to kick off a series of concerts in Middelkerke on Thursday evening. For her, it was her return to the stage.
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The brand new Proximus Pop-Up Arena – an initiative of Sportpaleis Group – in Middelkerke formed the backdrop for the first concert of a large series last night. The first in a long time, because the entire event sector has been hit hard over the past year and a half by the outbreak of the corona virus. The nerves were therefore high.
“For us this is the first concert since January 2020”, organizer Annelies Friday told us just before Natalia took the stage. “I don’t need to tell you that we are indeed very nervous.”
2,500 frantic fans witnessed the first performance in the Proximus Pop-Up Arena. There are a total of 5,000 places, but due to the current corona measures, no more than half of the seats may be occupied.
Natalia was there for the first time in a long time on stage in front of a large audience and how. As if she had done nothing else in the last year and a half, she sang the tiles from the roof, accompanied by the twenty-piece Antwerp Philharmonic Orchestra.
© Jeffrey Roos
For the five months pregnant Natalia, it felt a bit like the first day of school. “Of course it feels special to be the first here”, says Natalia. “I am honored that they chose me for that. I wasn’t really stressed. I’ve had some practice, huh (laughs). It remains a bit exciting, because there is not really a reference point with those who have come before me. I hope people enjoy my first performance. Once I’m on stage, it quickly feels familiar, no matter how long it’s been.”
Contract for three years
With the Proximus Pop-Up Arena, Middelkerke will become the number 1 in the coming months place to be for music lovers. Mayor Jean-Marie Dedecker (LDD) is delighted that Sportpaleis Group chose Middelkerke to organize concerts for a summer. “This puts Middelkerke on the map”, says Dedecker.
“Just pay artists like Natalia and Bart Peeters and so many others who will visit Middelkerke. We cannot afford that. We’ll take care of the ground and the police. Does this open the door to even more big names in the future? We have a three year contract and our Casino will be there by then. There will be many more possibilities in our community in the future. I am very proud as mayor.”