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Edinburgh - A Triumph
09/30/09 @ 09:03:53 pm, Categories: General, 405 words   English (US)

We just got home (well back to the hotel) after a fabulous night out with Michael (in our dreams ;)) and lovely friends, but let’s start at the beginning.

Once Michael was inside the Usher Hall, we planned to get our car and search for our hotel. We did not hold much hope for a smooth journey. A) because we have satnav and B) because we have been to Edinburgh before (many times). That does not make sense? You may know that Edinburgh is just one big building site at the moment. Loads of streets were just dug up. So we just knew our sat nav would have to work overtime and it did. Nevertheless we got there quite quickly, checked in, got changed and yes, drove back to the venue by car, although it should have been walking distance. Somehow we just could not be bothered.

Unlike yesterday the concert started in perfect time. Our seats were in the front row, to the side, but still in front row. They turned out to be just perfect! The stage setting was a bit smaller than usual as the stage is rather tiny compared to the arenas we were used to.

From the beginning you could tell the concert would be fabulous! Michael was on great form and enjoying himself and so was everyone on stage. The audience loved him. He received very deserved standing ovations for Gethsemane, Love changes everything, The Prayer and This is the moment. Actually we felt, he should have got them for half the songs he was doing. It was just bloody brilliant from beginning to end and a complete triumph. Nothing went wrong, everything was just perfect.

After the show we got to the very crowded stage door. We managed to speak to lovely Adrian again, who just gets better and better. After he left it did not last long for Michael to appear and enter his coach. He even got to the front door of the coach, signed stuff, talked to people and was his usual lovely self.

It did not last long, but it was a nice and lovely end to a brilliant, near perfect day. Thanks to Michael and thanks to the bunch of lovely ladies (and a gentleman) whom we shared the post-concert time with. For us it’s off to Newcastle tomorrow morning, including some sightseeing in the way down.

So, see you in Newcastle 

Edinburgh Newsflash
09/30/09 @ 12:30:05 pm, Categories: General, 116 words   English (US)

Weather is wonderful after a gray and drizzly start. Sunshine all over one of the most beautiful places imaginable. We LOVE Edinburgh.

What added to the perfection surely that there was a fully blown stage door today. No rushing, just walking pas everyone after arriving in a people carrier. All smiley and happy. A full 6 minutes of bliss that we could share with an amazing bunch of people (you know who you are). :D so there will be photos (and plenty) and we MIGHT even try to get a little video online, but not sure whether this will work.

Now getting ready for the concert. Cannot wait! Front row (but at the very side), yay! B)

Glasgow – better late than never
09/30/09 @ 03:30:47 am, Categories: General, 1183 words   English (US)

Apart from a near-attack by a metal tube lost by the lorry in front of us on our way up to Scotland, the journey went by rather peacefully. We had a look at beautiful Lancaster and Morecambe at the coast and took it slowly from there.

The closer we got to Glasgow the greyer the clouds became. It was pouring by the time we had reached he hotel. But that doesn’t diminish our joy to be back in wonderful Scotland. After a day of chilling we decided to brave the walk to the stage door in posh shoes as it wasn’t supposed to be far….well, it isn’t…technically. Trouble was that we had to do two detours as the streets were blocked off for residents. So it did take us well over 30 minutes in drizzly rain. Arriving fairly shattered we joined our friends. There is a roof over the stage door and there is plenty of room. One of our fave stage doors actually. Despite cold wind and rain time went by rather quickly as we spent it with a great bunch of people. We had so much fun! After a while though we were told Michael would be late due to his TV appearance (we walked past the TV studios! If we had only stood there! But had no idea it was a live show, we thought it was pre-recorded.). It would be half past five until he’d arrive. It actually got a little later than that (which is great, over 2 hours of standing in the cold…the things we do). By then we knew: this would be a runner. He had the meet and greet to go to, so when he appeared he basically ran pas us all, saying how very late he was. He did look rather yummy though…but those of you who could watch his appearance on telly will know that. Seeing the whole encounter lasted about 30 seconds there are no stage door photos we are afraid.

Desperate laughter all around and we all dashed off to grab some food and get changed.

While we were waiting an issue came up that would have some effect on the rest of the evening: The venue had printed a wrong time onto some of the tickets! They read doors open at 8 pm!! This would indicate the concert starts at 8:30! A full hour late. Michael confirmed it was 7:30 pm, as usual. Ticketmaster claimed they had sent Emails out to the customers who were given the wrong time, unfortunately though none of us ever got that. So we really could not imagine the concert to start at 7:30pm.

The Concert

We finally decided to get to the concert by car as we could not face such a walk four times a day. When we got there shortly before 7pm, we could tell, we were right about the concert. There was hardly anyone in the foyer. We have never seen it THAT empty. Getting into the auditorium was even weirder. You could count the people on two hands. By 7:30pm the auditorium was not even half filled. By then we had found out the venue would claim this was due to traffic jams that were caused by a football match nearby. LOL, yeah right, what a co-incidence. Some minutes later they even made an announcement the concert would not start before 8pm due to most attendees stuck in traffic. Well never mind, we had loads of lovely people to talk to. By 8:05pm finally the musicians took to the stage, as did Callum…. Needless to say to much applause by the audience. By now most people seemed to have arrived. And we discovered that the management of the Clyde Auditorium must have learned from the past. No ushers sitting on the aisles as they used to during the recent shows.

The concert started and everyone got on their feet and enjoyed themselves dancing for the first two songs. Michael was on top form and you could tell he enjoyed being back in Glasgow.

For one moment during The Rose there was a detectable strain in Michael’s voice. Spine chilling memories of this one concert 2 years ago when he suffered from a bad cold and could hardly talk. It was a memorable night, seeing him soldiering on so bravely. But luckily it was over quite quickly. Just goes to show to how much perfection we are used and how worried you get the second something doesn’t go to plan. But all was well.

After the interval we returned to our seats to find two ushers seated in front of the audience, backs to the stage, one in each aisle. The poor things. Will they ever learn?? But we heard how they were briefed to move back to row F before mayhem would break lose after the Duffy number. Phew.

The audience was quite….enthusiastic. When he recounted how he went to see Jesus Christ Superstar when he was 12 some people broke into hysterical laughter. Michael did a double take, smiling, saying a bit stunned: Yeah, I was 12…I know, I am older now..but I was 12 (with the what’s the big deal?!-voice).

We know the poor ushers were in for a comment from the stage. And sure enough at one point Michael quietly asked for a spot to be directed onto them individually. As they wriggled in their seats, their backs still turned to him he kept asking “Was it anything I said?” Giggles. The girl who guarded us was nearly dying of embarrassment, bless her. He said they were waiting for the attack, right? “You have no bloody hope.” Too true.

When he introduced the bit on Dame Vera Lynne and singing in close harmony there was a loud crack…something to do with the microphone. He jumped and laughed “Is she in then?”.

We got to Just When and he did the usual introduction, but added that this song was written for someone he loved very much and who happened to be in tonight – no pressure, boys. Having Cathy in the audience surely did add to his energy on stage. Family members in attendance always guarantee a great night for the audience.

He talked about returning to Glasgow for Hairspray and the place went wild.

Oh, we had such a great time! Party time rocked and the audience absolutely loved him. That’s what we enjoy so much about Scotland – apart from all our darling friends, there is always top reception for Michael.

After the concert we had the feeling he’d sneak out through another door. We kept our distance and saw him do just that, but naturally respected his wish for privacy and just stared from the shadows. Had a lovely chat with Adrian and Ben though.

Another wonderful evening…now it’s time to pack our things (oh god…the room looks like …we cannot even begin to describe what it looks like….packing may take some time) and head to Edinburgh. Hopefully with less rain and more stage door.

Blackpool, what a night!
09/28/09 @ 04:09:30 am, Categories: General, 671 words   English (US)

What an amazing show yesterday – but first things first. We arrived in Blackpool without another car crash. Yay! Result! Found everything okay, which is hardly surprising for we have a) sat nav and b) been to Blackpool several times already. From listening to Sunday Brunch (oh yes, we did, in our car) we knew Michael was having fun on Pleasure Beach, so there was no hurry.

Chatted a bit and waited until the tour bus (there were no less than 5 identical ones parked around the venue. But half of them belonged to another act) left to pick Michael, the boys and one of the Louises up from having fun on rollercoasters. It took them a while but sure enough after some 30 minutes the massive bus squeezed itself through the narrow lane. Michael waved from the front. But we guessed right: he’d step out from the middle door. This is fun and it means he has a shorter walk through the crowd. But he was very giving with his time, told us all about their Pleasure Beach adventure (apparently Callum had decided against one of the rides in the last minute) and said we should see the photos. Once inside the boys came along and Ben made the crucial mistake of showing the photos from the rollercoaster rides to us all. Millions of cameras were out, the poor boy looked like he was surrounded by piranhas LOL We made no exception of course. Hilarious pics! Had a quick chat with the lovely Adrian, too (he is staying in Hairspray till April and Verity is too! Yay! Will have to see it again before April! But he will not go on tour with the show. Crying shame.).

When everyone was in we had some food and set off to find our hotel which did prove quite a quest even though we had a) sat nav and b) knew the place. Took us almost an hour to find our way through the labyrinth of one way streets. But we made it and are in a massive room WITH sea view!! In a Travelodge that cost us 9 pounds, would you believe it?

The concert was phenomenal.

Mind you, we thought it was a bit of a slow start with only half the auditorium on their feet for the first song (fans are scattered through the auditoriums these days, no real group feel). Also clapping along didn’t work even when Michael tried very hard to get everyone going. BUT the applause and cheers after each song were generous and enthusiastic, so that made up the lack of audience participation during the individual numbers. Those who did stand up gave plenty standing ovations (it sometimes felt like exercise, we were on our feet almost every song LOL). His voice was in top form and they had so much fun up there. Sadly the sound was a bit…let’s say the venue is not equipped for the huge speakers and so it was a bit over the top at times. Party time saw the whole place on their feet, dancing along. We had such a good time and, most importantly, so had Michael and company.

Afterwards we wished the boys a good journey (as we knew they’d drive straight on to Glasgow) but were then told Michael had left through another door. Never mind, we had a fab stage door before the concert (those are the ones that count) and headed straight to the beach, admiring the illuminated Blackpool.

Now it’s our day off and we will drive up to Glasgow via scenic routes and in no hurry whatsoever. Can’t wait. B)

A line we had forgotten in the Birmingham blog, but love so much we keep repeating it on a daily basis: when Michael told us that he now has been doing this job for 25 years he rephrased: “You cannot call it a job, can you? 25 years of showing off!”
loved it! even thought about changing Justy’s tag line! LOL

Proper Review
09/27/09 @ 02:54:45 am, Categories: Shows, General, 1798 words   English (US)

It’s not even half past 7 and we are back up. Not because we have to but simply because that is how it always is in our UK holidays. We keep waking up at ridiculous hours…probably the excitement of it all.

Anyways, we thought we could use the extra time to do a proper write up of yesterday’s concert.

The suits:
Michael comes on stage in a wonderful three-piece suit (it looks dark, grey or black, difficult to tell with the massive light show going on), white shirt, white tie. Loving it, seriously hot stuff. During the cause of the first act he loses the tie. V nice. When he comes back on stage after the interval he is wearing a longer-than-normal jacket (sorry, no fashionistas, don’t know the proper lingo), dark blue or slight purple (and patterned) shirt and matching tie. We just realised, we disagree on the colour, lol. Love this outfit, so very elegant. Then he changes once more for the build up to the finale and returns in black suit with white shirt and glitzy tie! It was most thrilling to see the posh fabric…it looks so soft…actually it’s rather tight fit at places (all the right places, we should add), so sometimes it is a bit distracting (in a VERY good way).

The boyx:
Whoever chose the outfit: Thank you. Sometimes their suits looked more like body painting, really gorgeous. Tight grey suits with even tighter t-shirts. Sometimes they wore the jackets, sometimes they did not. At the end of the show they changed into black shirts with a silver glitzy motive on the front. Gorgeous.

The girls:
Well, they changed their dresses a couple of times and really looked stunning.

The First Act:
We were treated to an Overture of different songs (You can’t stop the beat, Jesus Christ Superstar, Don’t stop me now). It felt great to be back, but it was a bit weird to have Callum standing on the “wrong” side of the stage and not having any backing vocals. You can tell, we are not very flexible when it comes to our concert setting. But that will surely change. The guest singers finally appeared at the back of the stage and we heard “Please welcome Mr. Michael Ball!” To our delight the front of the stalls got up on their feet and danced for the first two songs (I was made for Loving you medley and One Step out of Time) and we had a great time enjoying our front row view Blackpool will be row H so we had to make the most of it).

This was followed by Human, sung as a solo by Michael. During this number we still had to come to terms with him being so close by (eventho the NIA is a bit of a heartless arena, the stage was fairly close), so will hopefully get a few more things to say about it as the tour progresses. Don’t stop me Now was arranged as a company number and worked really, really well. Just a crying shame the two Louises, Emma, Ben and Adrian are positioned at the back of the stage behind the musicians, meaning we missed some of their hip action. It has to be said though, placing this song at the beginning f of the concert meant we really had to struggle to urge our well-trained bodies to remain put and NOT dash to the stage when the line of the song that usually has been the signal for party time came. Sitting through this number was the most odd sensation. But Mr Ball had several of those moments in store for us.

For Seasons of Love all of them finally joined Michael on the front of the stage. The song being a company number from Rent, Michael explained how he could now stage it as it should be done when he previously only sang it alone. It’s all about harmonies and every member of the 6-piece-ensenble gets their chance to shine. It really is quite some experience. These kids are all so talented. Amazing.

Naturally we had read all the songlists that are around, so we KNEW he’d sing The Rose, a song that means so much to him and his family. We did look forward to it a lot and were indeed grabbed by the heartbreaking sincerity with which he performed it. Quite a killer really. It got us two bunnies really emotional.

Next on the agenda was Michael’s “classic album track” from Sunday Brunch. The first one to be aired in this section (his choice). Supertramp’s If Everyone was Listening. What a song! Couldn’t remember it from the show…but the gentleman behind us was quite pleased with Michael’s choice apparently for he started singing along! Luckily only for a short while (and a serious glance from us). Watch out for this song though. Great stuff.

When the old barstool came out we knew it was time for Empty Chairs. And we know it’s been said before, but he seems to have re-discovered the song…heartbreakingly beautiful and very fresh.

Tell me it’s not True from Blood brothers led us into the finale of the first act. Obviously this worked really well as a company number. Michael then left the stage and the fab five took over to give us a Jesus Christ Medly of sorts, acting out the songs. Very cleverly done and a joy for the ears. When Michael was back on stage we knew what had to come: Gethsemane. Wow. What can we say? Just wow. His voice….the emotion…everything was just perfect. A sublime stage moment. And luckily no one spoilt it by clapping into the dramatic pause towards the end. Phew. The audience was in the know.

What a finale. We were still quite stunned when the lights came back on and everyone had left the stage.

Act 2:

The second act started with some numbers from Starlight Express (Michael explained how this was the only Andrew Lloyd Webber musical he had never sung a song from before. So he thought it was time to change that and he really liked the songs). Michael and Adrian duetted on Only You. A sight to be hold and a joy for the ears (and eyes).

It was a bit weird to have Love Changes Everything in the middle of the concert and not at the end. Michael told us, we might be familiar with the song and if we knew the lyrics and felt the urge to sing along, then “DON’T!” We were actually quite happy to hear that. Then he got a giggle fit, because of the audience laughter and his own cheekiness. Towards the end of the song he actually did invite the audience to sing along (sadly).

As introduction to the next song he spoke about how a very young Michael once attended a concert of his then favourite band back in the 70s. He got a bit excited at the end and dashed to the front of the stage (he smiled at us and said, he has seen that happening since). Anyhow, while he was at the front of the stage he reached out and she back and for a blissful moment Michael and Agnetha were joined. Then we knew he was talking about Abba. Back on the barstool and we finally heard The Winner Takes It All, live for the first time. Definitely one of our big highlights! What a powerful and sad song.

We knew we were in for a lot of fun, when he talked about Vera Lynne, who is at the top of the charts at the moment at 92 years old. That gave him “bloody hope” he said. On a more serious note he talked about the creativity during the war years and how he loved the art of this period., Especially the closed harmony groups. He apologised for the Andrews Sisters and then the sextet formed a wonderful and sparkly rendition of the Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, complete with fantastic choreography.

This led beautifully into the classic Mack The Knife from the Threepenny Opera (Dreigroschenoper in German). Why it took him so long to gather the courage to perform that we don’t know. It was perfect (we promised that we won’t moan that he did not sing it in German).

We knew he was about to leave the stage, when he started to talk about not having explored song writing enough, but that it was thrilling for a writer to hear his work interpreted by other artists. Naturely this song means a lot to him and they mustn’t get it wrong, no pressure! He left the stage and let Adrian and Ben sing a sweet rendition of the song.

Emma Williams had her chance to shine in The Prayer with Michael. And he is right. She has grown up nicely. The two voices do blend really well.

He started talking about Hairspray, but we knew it was too early for You Can’t Stop The Beat, so it had to be I Know Where I’ve Been. Truly amazing. This song is so full of hope and has such beautiful lyric. We are delighted that it will be on the DVD. Just WOW!

Next came the ultimate treat: Mercy. All six of them looking dashing in their finale frocks and suits. They were all having such fun and the song has so much vibrant energy, it’s wonderful. Stunning arrangement, we had the best time. And it’s absolutely one of our tour favourites.

This led into You Can’t Stop The Beat and a rush to the stage, party time! It was oddly familiar to hear the song and see the routine from the very front. We were half expecting Michael to pop out of a giant Hairspray can, wearing a glamorous red frock. He did not of course. But it was so good to be transported back to the era that was Hairspray and have everyone around you dancing.

Only two songs left and the official end of the concert was Put A Little Love In Your Heart. A joyous number performed beautifully by all of them.

Michael returned after a little while of thunderous applause to treat us to a phenomenal rendition of The Impossible Dream. His first ever audition song… and Yes, he did get the part.

When he left the stage for the last time, we could not believe it was all over. Time went by so quickly, but hey, nine more shows to come. So we will see it all again tonight in Blackpool. Can’t wait!

09/26/09 @ 06:44:22 pm, Categories: General, 205 words   English (US)

We are back in our hotel after the most amazing concert. Sitting in the front row, seeing Michael do a whole bunch of new material, several standing ovations and five stunning youngsters with him up there: life does not get much better than this. Very exhausted now, so we will concentrate on highlights.

- The suits: delicious
- I was made for loving you / Hot Stuff: fantastic and a blast from the past, seeing “Hot Stuff” was the first song of our first ever Michael concert
- … hummmm just realising that roughly every song is a highlight. So we might write a bit more about the line up after Blackpool, still some highlights in no particular order:
- Mercy
- Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy
- Mack the Knife
- Seasons of Love
- Gethsemane
- The Winner Takes It All
- The Rose
- Just When
- I Know Where I’ve Been

Why these are our highlights? We’ll get to this later on, as well as all the other stuff Michael says and does during the concert.

Sorry about that, we are just a bit overwhelmed and VERY tired. Our special thanks goes to Pam for just being herself. :D Good night everyone. Talk tomorrow

Ball Behind Bars
09/26/09 @ 12:26:54 pm, Categories: Pre Stage Door, General, Travel, 536 words   English (US)

We won’t bother you with the drama preceding our arrival in Birmingham (flight cancelled, bunny K not on the new flight, delayed departure because of traffic over the channel to name but a few).

For us our tour started this morning, when we picked up our rental car (very nice! we got an upgrade). And the sat nav guided us towards our hotel. Only two crossings away from our hotel, we waited at a red traffic light. Then, suddenly, there was an almighty bang and jerk. The driver behind us had hit us. GREAT! A rental car. A four lanes road and we are stranded in the middle, in shock with heavy traffic all around us. It took us a moment to gather our bearings. The guy who hit us kindly helped to slow down the traffic and we could pull over to the left at a bus stop. Thankfully the car was still driving and the poor man was very apologetic. We phoned the rental company and he confirmed to them it was his fault. Luckily no one was hurt. Our car looks a little worse for wear though. The rest of the journey went smoothly…. Thankfully.

Then we arrived at our hotel and had a lot of time to wander around, have a look for the stage door and have something to eat.

Stage Door:

This would not be a brilliant one for sure, it did not help that this must be the first time ever Michael did the NIA. This means no one knew which of the numerous entrances Mr. Ball would use. We settled for the one, where one of the tour buses was parked. The problem there was, that it was closed by a massive gate. So we knew at best he’d drive in and walk back up to us. In worst case, he’d just walk in.

We chatted to our friends and time went by rather quickly. Every now and then a member of the band arrived. And when Callum arrived we knew sound check was near. Excitement mounted when the second tour bus came up the road and drove past…. Oh no! Bugger, what now? We really really do not want to run. But then it stopped, mercifully reversing into the drive. Michael had fun, as you might see on the photos. And we were lucky as once the bus was safely parked he really did walk over to us all, chatted a bit, signed a bit and told us all he was tired. Also he encouraged us all to do a bit of dancing in the show, as he really like to see it, when people stood up (apparently there has been a bit of a lack of atmosphere during the tour due to the fans only having tickets further at the back – or so we were told). When Michael finally went in Ben remained there, working the crowd. We said our hellos and it was good to know he still remembered us.

With one hour to go to our first concert we will leave you now to get changed. Enjoy the pics of “The Ball Behind Bars”. Talk to you soon, we hope. Wifi permitting.


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