>>  Bunny Diaries
Brighton - the final concert
06/27/11 @ 03:53:58 am, Categories: General, 1254 words   English (US)

The first two rows of the flat stalls in front of the (very high) stage was mainly a MBFC affair. We were on the far side but still on stage level. There were still 10 seats furtehr down the row who mainly had wall and security people in front of them. We felt thes should not have made the rows as wide but with the high stage the view hopefully wasn’t too bad.

For the first time during our leg of the tour the entire audience was on their feet when he appeared on stage for the opening song. And we are happy to report that this reception set the tone for the entire evening. He had tweeted “Brighton…come and get me!X” and we think Brighton did.

At least in our block the vibe was electrified. Lots and lots of noise, standing ovations in all the right places. The New York medley was interspersed with applause for each one of the five talented singers. As we had anticipated with the sun being out and being the last night of a successful tour Michael was “fristky as anything” agrain. He also asked whether anyone else had got sunburnt, because they forgot to put their factor on.

When we got to Misty and him saying that the radio host was played with Clint Eastwood, stressing the uncanny resemblance that got a good laugh. He looked all confused saying “And that’s funny why?”

We even had a final matinee moment during “Rhapsody in Blue” which is usually a very intense moment, with Roger on top of the show stairs in dramatic lights, playing this beautiful music. Michael listens to him then turns to us all and usually says “Mr. Roger Wilson!” and starts singing “New York State of Mind".

Was not quite as sophisticated tonight though. The problem was that we were sitting to the far side, so we could not see, if it was Roger or someone else. But anyhow, this person wore a long wig and looked anything but glamorous. Michael had a right laugh, he obviously had not expected that. Instead of “Mr. Roger Wilson” he managed to get a “What a talent” out between laughing.

After the New York Medley, when he had introduced his five co-singers, he thanked them for making the tour so special. After this mometn of emotion he again praised them for being young, athletic and handsome and announced in consistence with the night before, that they’re fired now.

We could not believe how fast we were back in the second act and he was talking about young, live, virile Marius and that he could still do the juvenile lead. This received a lot of approval from the audience. We all insisted that he did not have to be a mile away, but as we know this is just the intro for getting to Sweeney Todd. He stressed how this was happening very soon now and how his co-star was Oscar-nominated and BAFTA-winning. For once he looked positively terrified, covered his face with his hands and said “Oh God, what am I doing?". A beautiful rendition of “Pretty Women” and “Not While I’m around", which he then dedicated to Imelda Staunton. Wow! We had sat in the same auditorium as Dolores Umbridge.

Party time was a riot and he seemed genuinly touched by the rousing reception. He thanked all the fans for their support and said again what a wonderful tour it had been. He even called yesterday the perfect day. And he said tomorrow (today) would be his 39th birthday. Everyone in front of the stage had a good laugh, but you know, those who don’t know his birthday by heart would probably have believed him, fit as he is.

This was the third concert in a row and yet he was in top form. The sounds this man is making are uneblievable. We will miss the “Somebody to Love” money note. And it is so impressive how he can switch from the very naughty “Help Yourself” to a so sincere and gentle rendition of “Love changes everything” again with sensational money note. We have heard him live many many times and still this tour kept sitting there with mouth open, spine tingling in complete awe. A true phenomenon. We do hope this will come across on the DVD recording, but nothing will beat seeing him live. It was a wonderful last concert and we all felt rather emotional on our way out.

Back at the stage door the barriers now formed a rectangle with two barriers on each side of the door and two on the street, so he had a good sized space to move around in. We stood just opposite the door and could see the dressing room windows. They had lined up all the cards he had received and at one point Andrew and Imelda Staunton glanced down at us all. Eventually Michael came out in a beautiful flowery shirt (blue) giving his little thank you speech and introducing Ms Lovett to us all. She looked seriously impressed with the amount of ecstatic fans present. Inevitably someone started singing “Happy Birthday” and everyone joined in. While we can understand that you’d want to congratulate him it still felt a bit weird, seeing how superstitious he is and at home we say it is unlucky to congratulate someone before his actual birthday. But anyways it sure sounded nice and he even came to the barriers and signed whatever people popped in front of him. It was quite a frenzy and after a few moments he was back in the remaining tour bus (alone this time the singers would leave in a taxi and waved us all good-bye). The Heroes Tour 2011 was over.

We stayed behind saying good-bye to the boys and then stood a long time, chatting with friends about a wonderful experience. The weather was still brilliant and it was a very warm night, seagulls still over our heads, you could hear the waves crashing at the beach. He was probably right, it was the perfect day!

We are off home today, but will raise a glass to him at the airport. It feels strange to leave the country on his birthday. We hope he has a lovely party and then a well deserved rest before the Sweeney rehearsals. God October feels a long while away, but at least there will be Sunday Brunch against the withdrawel syndrome.

Many,many thanks to all those who have made our summer holiday extra special: Angela and family, Helge and Petra (we hope you have a lovely honeymoon in Hawaii!), Pat and Linda and gang, Pam and Rose-Marie, Bev and Hilary, Gill and Maureen, Joan, Faye, Barbara and Andrew and Saffy, Steve and Emma and everybody else who came up to us and said hello. It was such a joy to meet you all.

A blogged standing ovation to Sandra, Laura, Holly, Gary and Adrian! You guys have been amazing. As we have said; ear and eye candy.

We feel we don’t do this often enough, so we will do it now: Thank you Andrew for taking such good care of Michael and dealing so patiently with all our follies.

As always our final note of thanks must go to Mr. Michael Ball. Without him we would not have met any of the people mentionned above and it’s like he said, we hope we can still do this in 25 years time! Talk to you in October.

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Brighton - Review to follow tomorrow
06/26/11 @ 07:45:22 pm, Categories: General, 55 words   English (US)

Hi there, just so you know, we are half falling asleep here. Will be doing the review blog for the show first thing tomorrow.

A brilliant concert to end a tour with and we had Imelda Staunton in the audience and at the stage door afterwards. Fabulous day, but really don’t want to leave tomorrow.

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Brighton Stage Door
06/26/11 @ 12:12:11 pm, Categories: General, 864 words   English (US)

Yseterday we made an enormous mistake: We told Michael we did not have any travel nightmares this tour. Then we left Bournemouth in the midddle of the night to get to our Premier Inn in Fareham. We had the route planner, our sat nav and the address. Shortly after we started, we were both desperate for … the powder room… an found none. Then the fuel level warning light came on, but we decided, we’d get to the hotel soon anyways and everything should be fine. And it was that moment, when we discovered our motorway would be closed. Or at least several junctions (one of which was ours) were. PANIC. We had to do a detour, lost time, lost more petrol than anticipated (it kept making reproachful noises), but we would be there any minute now surely. Emily (our Sat Nav) directed us, we followed thinking, now this is an odd place for a hotel - a residential area. Most strange. We just wndered how they had obtained planning persmission for this type of house in this type of area when she said we had reached our destination. It was a dead end and we were parking in fornt of a very neat semi-detached house. Pretty roses in the front garden but they would probably not have been too chuffed if we rang the door bell at 1:30 am asking for a twin room in their attic, we don’t think. Naturally our hotel confirmationwe only had the post code and this seemed to be it. Again the car moaned for fuel. Right. Okay. Deep breath, no panic: ask clever sat nav for accomodation in the vicinity and lo and behold it came up wth our hotel and it turned out it was just around the corner at a different roundabout exit(ironically we had gotten off the roundabout at this very exit only seconds before, drove past the correct steet and then followed her instructions to get to the afore mentioned residential area instead). But we had found the place AND a petrol station. So all’s well that ends well.

On to the next morning. After a lovely shower, we got ready for the journey to Brighton. We told Emily (Sat Nav) to get us to Brighton, West Street. The streets were incredibly busy, although it’s hardly a surprise, when it’s Sunday, blazing sunshine and you are heading for a seaside town.

We have done the route from Portsmouth to Brighton countless times and were a bit surprised when Emily told us to drive on to places we’ve never heard of before and Brighton disappeared from the signposts. Did we trust our instincts? No! We thought she was being incredibly clever, using some sneaky route into town, we’ve simply not seen before.

Weeeellll, let’s just say we really enjoyed our brief stay in 1 West Street in Rottingdean ( A ). Mind you, it was a very pretty place and we passed another famous school this trip: Roedean, which also has a Michael connection as it featured in one of his lines in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. So we are now convinced Emily just wanted to show us new places.

We then got to dhe Brighton Centre fine (eventually).

We did some shopping and card-writing, had a look at the beautiful beach and had enjoyed the first real summers day in the UK (shame that we will travel back home tomorrow).

As we had expected there was quite a crowd at the stage door, but we had all left a nice space for Micahel to walk past in a guard of honor-manner, but this is Brighton and they are mad about security there. So at a quarter past four two security men rushed out of the stage door. They moved the fans a bit further apart and put barriers up, where we had to stand behind. This would have made perfect sense, if he had arrived in a tour bus, so he could have got out and in quickly, but the bus was safely parked a few yards down the road. So we told the security person, Michael would walk to the venue, but he said the production company insists. Well they never had this at any of the other 11 venues we had been to, so we had our doubts.

And guess what happened? Exactly! Michael walked to the stage door. This naturally meant that the people behind us could not see him too well, because of the barrier, but we hope they just walked up to him in the end. We waited near the door, asked for a posed photo and listened to his little speech. He wants us all to make a noise tonight and we will.

We will be sitting in the front row and remember Brighton as being very ,very strict when it comes to photos, so we cannot promise you some from the concert, but we will do our best of course.

We promised to mention Emma and Steve, so here goes: Emma and Steve (LOL ;))

No, but seriously, we had loads of fun at the stage door just now, saying thank yous and good-byes to Gary with them. Enjoy your pizza guys!

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Bournemouth - 26 June 2011
06/25/11 @ 09:10:47 pm, Categories: General, 648 words   English (US)

We felt quite at home being back at the BIC in Bournemouth. When we arrived a little crowd had already gathered at the stage drive. For those who don’t know the venue: the stage door is mainly a driveway leading to the subterranean car park for the buses and trucks. What we were prepared for was standing at the side of the street, waving at him on his way in.

Imagine our surprise when he appeared behind us all, having just come up from the beach. No rain this time! As always he was very patient with us all, telling us he had had a beach hut for the day. So we really should have done the sensible thing, meaning going for a walk on the beach instead of standing on some driveway, but on the other hand, we probably would have died from embarassment, if we had run into him down on the beach.

Concert:

Whatever he was on tonight, we want some of it! He told the audience he was frisky as anything and in a good mood, but by then we knew that already. Lots of bouncing around the stage. Many little dances. We experienced something like a parting of the ways: Whereas we tend to get evermore depressed towards the end of a tour, he seems to be on an all-time high, but this is fine. It’s more fun that way.

For the group flash he did all kinds of poses and had a little rant about mobile phones and texting in theatres. Some poor souls were late for the show and as we told you before, you really, really don’t want to get caught by him when sneaking in late. They got the usual “You missed a lot!", but he also stopped the entire show and waited for them to find their seats. Constantly adressing them: “That’s alright, Take your time, I’ve got nothing else to do! or should I start over again?” (we all shouted yes, he should naturally).

It was such a laugh. Oh and also everyone was on their feet for the first song. That made a nice change to Plymouth. Everyone around us was so excited, it was great.

When we got to Misty and the Clint Eastwood analogy he said that he heard laughter when explaining how the movie cast with Clint Eastwood was the first obvious similarity.

No one reacted when he said New York was his second favourite city. So he turned around to everyone. He said “I said 2nd one - Work with me Bournemouth” This got him a huge laugh.

After having introduced his five co-singers he said they were young, athletic, good-looking and that this really gets on his nerves “ThatÄs it! From tomorrow you are all fired!”

We were thrilled by the incredible reception he received, but Bournemouth is really mad about the Ball. They cheered, they stood, they clapped along and when we got to the final encore and he had his little talk about the fine and having to stop by ten pm, they even gave their game away, saying: “I’m only teasing. You’ll have to drag me off stage. I’m having such a good time here.

What can we say about the voice? He makes it sound so effortlessly and delivers notes that make your heart skip a beat, literally. He’s incredible and for fear of overusuing oue belooved amazing, we have looked up a couple of synonyms:

awesome, fascinating, incredible, marvelous, prodigious, shocking, stunning, surprising, unbelievable, wonderful

Pick whichever you like from the above. They are all true.

Right now we are in Faremham, which is midway between Bournemouth and Brighton. We cannot believe that today (it’s 3am) we will really se the final concert of the tour? Where has the time gone? We hope to get back to you between stage door and show. Good night.

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Plymouth
24/06/11 @ 08:14:45 pm, Categories: General, 762 words   English (UK)

After the RAH concerts we had to get Julia’s mum back to Heathrow and then headed on to Plymouth for the (sadly) last leg of the tour. Can 2,5 weeks really almost be over?

We arrived quite late as we lost some time having a look at Windsor and Eton on the way. A detour that was well worth it. Once we got to the hotel we saw that there was a small cinema just across the street and we thought we might just pop in and watch “Green Lantern". Little did we know, that in this case you really should judge a book by its cover. We cannot give any names, but we swear we ended up in the shabbiest cinema of the Western Hemisphere. It was smelly, it was derelict, the 3D glasses only almost worked (making it 2.5 D we guess) and we did not dare take off the jackets or place our bags on the floor as everything was a bit sticky. This overshadowed the movie somewhat, but we survived. And let’s not even get started with our hotel room….

But anyways, after some frantic online weather forecast checks we bought a second umbrella and made our way to the stage door. We already had a small crowd and this kept growing and growing. The final headcount brought us to a little over 50.

Just when a light rain had set in we could see Mr. Ball walking (!) towards the venue. Last tour Plymouth was a drive-in and come to the barrier affair. So this was a nice surprise and credit where credit is due. He really worked his way through the entire crowd very patiently, even when the rain intensified. So many thanks for that!

We then had a table booked in the restaurant in town, that’s why we could not get back to you sooner, sorry. For the show we had seats at the very end of the third row, which means practically at the side of the stage and underneath all the speakers, but there were no seats in front of us, which we knew would mean a speedy exit to the stage.

During the opening number you can always tell who did the presale and who did not. That is why we always have a look around. It was quite patchy, fans gathered here and there and we feared this would put a daper on the atmosphere, but no, after a “slow-ish” start Plymouth really got going. The one thing that did surprise us though was the zero-reaction to his statement that he went to school in Plymouth, just down the road. Usually you’d expect cheers, but none came.

Michael had tweeted before the concert that he was “in a frisky mood". And so he was. Bouncy Ball is what we thought, ots of jumping up and down, always in motion. He was on a high from the opening notes. It was quite a joy to watch.

When we had the group flash, he had a little rant over mobile phones and flash photography. We would like to add singing along to songs Michael is singing to that list! At the Albert Hall someone behind us sang the entire Les Mis section with him, and badly! But you really don’t want to argue during “Empty Chairs".

When he talked about Neil Diamond and how Michael became really interested in music in the 70s he said that all this happened in Plymouth as he grew up there. Another Plymouth memory was going to the pub around the corner from the venue with Stephen Sondheim when they did Passion there. You could really tell that he felt a strong connection to the place.

Party time was a riot with almost everyone on their feet and lots and lots of cheering. It is great that he takes out one of his ear monitors before “Can’t help falling in love", which means that he can hear all the buzz from the crowd.

Afterwards he even came down to the fans and signed some more and took photos, when he could just as well have jumped into the bus and waved at us all. Oh and they did leave all in one bus (Michael and his singers). It seems that we have lost his bus and driver. We will keep you posted on this.

So ten down and two to go. Tomorrow morning we will be off to Bournmouth. It will be great to see the BIC again after our little venue tour. And we might even get some sunshine…. at last.

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London - RAH - 22 June 2011 - Concert
06/22/11 @ 09:01:57 pm, Categories: General, 862 words   English (US)

Quote from Michael Ball on Twitter after the first RAH concert:

“That was one of the best nights on a stage I have ever had. Amazing audience at the RAH and we get to do it again tomorrow. I am blessed:)xx”

Couldn’t agree more, but could it be just as good as the first one or even better? Really hard to believe, but we were just too willing to find out.

Our seats were again on the fifth row, but this time smack bang in the middle. Disadvantage: People in front of you, Advantage: great view, if the people in front of you are not too tall.

You know the standard bits of the tour script by now. Coming to the Misty story Michael amazed us with some German, when he compared himself with Clint Eastwood, saying they could be doppelgangers (yes, we know it is common overhere as well but still made us smile). Then he continued with the restraining order and the bad boy had a go at the poor lady, who did not know what hit her.

He pointed at her and went through with the restraining order story with a lot of gusto going on an on about this particular fan going too far until he finished with a gleeful: “She’s looking panick-stricken right now…and so she should be: The police is just there!” (pointing to the end of the hall). Poor thing!

What can we say about the show? The longer we keep being with the tour, the quicker the concerts are over. You barely sat down after Holding out for a Hero and just a minute later Michael sings “Weekend in New England” an the first half is over. And this is actually the same with the second half.

There were no major glitches (apart from his microphone that was not switched on when he got back on stage for the encore but this was solved after one line).

Funnily enough the jokes that tended to give him the biggest reactions at the other venues went without any laughter or at least much less (where we were sitting). One example for this would be his comment about New York being his second favourite city etc. No real reaction eventhough this time he really means it! London is his home after all. No reaction whatsoever at the mention of teh 10th anniversary concert of Les Mis but cheers for the 25th.

Apart from that, everything went perfectly well. He received so much applause and cheering, it was just fab. They absolutey loved every second of it. And when party time started they pulled out all the stops. The noise was deafening and Michael was enjoying himself immensely. He seemed so hyped up, we are pretty sure he won’t be able to sleep for another couple of hours.

Once we reached the point where “Love changes Everything” started, Michael told us that one of his biggest heroes was in attendance. Someone whom he owes a lot and without him, he might not be here (on stage) and who has written this next song. Of course he was talking about Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, who was in a box somewhere in the back of the Hall. One of the most amazing renditions we ever heard of “Love changes Everything” was to follow. Breathtakingly beautiful.

The evening flew by and was over far too soon. He raised the roof tonight-and considering that this very roof weighes 600 tons (see, we have been at this very informative venue tour) this is an incredible achievement. The Great Ball On Fire, that’s what he was. Hopefully the three remaining venues can compete with the amount of (well-deserved) excstasy of the RAH crowd (mind you 5000 people can make some noise ineed…this will be diffecult at a smaller venue).

Now coming to the initial question as to whether this second night could even beat the first. He was in top form and Michael Ball at his prime is delightful for both, ears an eyes! Also apart from the usual show stoppers “Love changes” and the Sunset Bouleavard songs were sublime (a lot of extra care as the composer was present) and the audience reaction was definitely equal to the one before. The first night was extra special though. Oh we cannot decide an call it a tie.

As to the man himself, what can we say? He looks amazing, as you can tell from the photos. Sometimes even as if he were in his mid-thirties and after two nights of outrageously wonderful singing his voice did not show any real signs of strain. A phenomenon if ever there was one.

Plus we had one added bonus: The magic of the Royal Albert Hall. This place is immensely beautiful, huge and at the same time intimate, with all the history of the place and all its splendor it really always is quite an experience and a privilage to just be there. We vow we will not let another decade go by before returning to the RAH!

Will any of the remaining venues be able to top these two concerts? We will keep you posted.

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Royal Albert Hall Stage Door
06/22/11 @ 11:20:44 am, Categories: General, 273 words   English (US)

We are just back at the hotel to get changed for the concert.

We spent the morning taking a backstage tour through the Royal Albert Hall and we are glad we did it. Quite impressive and interesting. The added bonus was that we could keep looking at Michael’s elegant set, which our guide aptly described as slick and with having a night-club feeling to it and everybody (there were 20 people)agreed. While we were at the very top of the hall, the gallery where the promenaders can stand for the Prom concerts, they were just having a light test and we were astonished what fantastic light tricks this clever stage can do (we don’t see half of it durgin the actual show). Amazing. We were shown around, but naturally there was not chance to get on the stage or into the dressing rooms (so be still all beating hearts out there), but nevertheless it was great to see this dressing room door with the MICHAEL BALL sign outside and topicture him taking this route onto the stage.

After that we had a stroll through the Victoria and Albert museum, just to be back at the stage door five minutes before Michael arrived. As he was extremely early, it was still very empty and we were maybe 15 people (?!). He looked gorgeous and asked if we had heard the radio show, which must have been hilarious according to him.

He took his time for photos an quick chats and was just ever so kind and giving before he had to go in. So now off to have another Ball. Will come back to you tonight!

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London - 21/06/11
06/21/11 @ 08:44:26 pm, Categories: General, 1242 words   English (US)

What can we say? Wow! The RAH concert was just out of this world. If you may allow though, we might fill you in on what happened over the last two days.

Our mothers had seen Michael in Hairspray before, but they had never seen him live on stage in concert as himself. So, when the tour was announced and we knew Michael would do the Royal Albert Hall, we knew we had to get them into this fantastic venue so they could finally see and understand what all the fuss was about. Yes, they had met him and they liked him quite a lot on and off stage, but you know just how blxxxdy brilliant Michael is in concert.

So fast forward to last Monday, we finally collected Julia’s mum from Heathrow. Due to unforeseen circumstances Kerstin’s mum could not make it unfortunately, but her time will come as well.

As Monday was one of our few Michael-less days, we needed to find some other occupation for the evening. With brilliant timing we had read before leaving home that Rupert Everett would be doing Pygmalion in London in June. A quick check and moments later fabulous seats were booked.

As a Michael connection: Rupert had done the play in Chichester. So when we sat down and flicked through the programmes it was a nice surprise to find a “Sweeney Todd” advertisement inside. Pygmalion was great and Rupert Everett was just everything you would expect. Diana Rigg did a great job as Prof. Higgins’ mother, but a special mention has to go to Kara Tointon. She was just amazing.

However, the weird part came when the show was over and we decided to see if the stage door would really be just next door to the exits and it was. We waited for a bit and finally got signatures of Rupert Everett and Diana Rigg, who obligingly signed programmes and posed for photos although it had just started to rain ever so slightly. Kara Tointon signed as well and was just so lovely and easy to chat with. Glad we did it.

Okay, but now you want to know about today. No stage door report and photos today. We skipped this one as we were invited to the wedding of our friends Helge and Petra. They are fans from Germany as well and decided to marry in London in a little German church close to Harrods. It has been the most amazing day. Thank you both for allowing us to share this special occasion with you! We even had a sightseeing tour in a special bus and a wonderful dinner in Chelsea. The sun was shining, the service was just beautiful (we all got to sing Love Changes Everything!!) and there were a few other fans from the UK, the States and France there so it was a truly international affair.

The seats we had were just brilliant. Arena to the left hand side in the fifth row, which was effectively the third row and for Kerstin even a front row, as she had no one in front of her.

We took our seats, enjoyed the view and could not believe to be back at the Royal Albert Hall for the first time in almost 11 years. Fate would have it that he either did the Hammersmith Apollo or we could not come to London when he had appeared at the Hall in recent years. So as you can imagine we were quite excited to be back and Julia’s mum was so in awe to be at such a famous place….pre-concert nerves on our part….cannot even imagine how Michael will have felt!

Michael burst on stage and you could tell the Royal Albert Hall was special to him. And what a welcome home he received! After either “Bad Things” or “Don’t stop believing”, we cannot remember just now, Michael turned to his band and singers, pointed over his shoulder and exclaimed excitedly “The Royal Albert Hall!”. His excitement was infectious. You just could not help but smile back. Lots of dimple action and we could not believe how close he was and how low the stage was. We had forgotten about the dimensions of the arena. London just loved every second of it and Michael truly gave us his all. How he does it we will never know: song after song, money note after money note delivered with utter perfection. We screamed ourselves hoarse and were by far not the only ones making a noise. Kerstin sat at the receiving end of the Misty/restraining order pointing and nearly broke Julia’s hand LOL

We have said it before but it is a bizarre phenomenon that we go to a concert to be (sublimely) entertained on the one hand but on the other hand our main goal is to show our appreciation to this incredible performer. And the happier he is with the reception he gets the better we feel about a concert and so both sides of the stage keep egging each other on to new heights. This happened tonight. With every roar or applause or standing ovation he seemed to be trying even harder to impress and we all tried to show even more appreciation… It was bliss. Those endless money notes or silky lows…suffice to say that by the end of act 1 Julia’s mum sat there open mouthed and speechless (and she has seen all his concert DVDs several times and enjoyed them immensely. But there is nothing, nothing whatsoever that compares to experiencing Michael live on stage. We knew that of course ;)). She could not believe how any singer could be this perfect, how a voice can be this versatile and how loud a proper money note REALLY is. It was such joy to see her excitement.

The show tunes did go down very well indeed with the already ecstatic crowd and it seemed like mere minutes until we came to party time. This time he even said something along the lines of “join in on the fun” for Avenues and Alleyways as everyone was dashing to the front anyways. We managed to position Julia’s mum directly at the stage so she was as close as possible. And he rocked the Hall!

Everyone was on their feet and before the encore the stalls seemed to explode with the stamping of feet to call him back on stage. He was so touched it was adorable to watch. Makes you want to hug him – very tightly. Genuine delight in our host’s face and lots of figurative audience hugging as he asked us all to do him a favour and come back tomorrow. Well, most of us fans will most happily oblige. It was the perfect concert.

We were once more amazed at the sheer force of the final few lines of Love Changes Everything after he had delivered this tour de force of a concert. 2 hours flown by like nothing at all. All too soon he was off the stage and we were left to leave the Hall in a happy daze. Met many friends at the VERY busy stage door and after a long wait and the late arrival of his car we waved him off for tonight.

Let’s see what tomorrow brings. We will get back to you as soon as possible with further news from beautiful London.

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Southampton – The Concert
06/19/11 @ 07:00:24 pm, Categories: General, 436 words   English (US)

It was great being back at the Mayflower again. We remembered many happy Hairspray Hours. We were sat in row C, centre block, at the aisle. Perfect seats (apart from front row obviously). It’s always fun to watch the entrance standing ovation in “Holding out for a hero”. You can tell exactly who bought their tickets in the pre-sale and who rather remained seated. Patches of eager fans everywhere, but everyone greeted Mr. Ball with the appropriate glee.

We had another group flash moment. So he will probably continue this at all the venues. It was not as mad as Bristol though.

From the second song on we knew he would do everything to try to keep Southampton forever in his concert schedule. They just loved him. All this excitement let to a few more embellishments during the Clint Eastwood Misty story. And he went on and on about the fan getting a bit scary, ignoring the restraining order, kept pointing, then abruptly stopped, laughed and said “Oh no, she looks all terrified now!” This was so much fun.

After the New York medley, when he went on how fabulous the gang was and how much younger than him and what talented singers they were , he finally exclaimed “Go home!”

Tonight the medley was a huge hit with the audience, meaning that almost every segment of the medley got its own round of applause.

The show tunes of the second half hit the spot and at one point we actually feared the young man in front of us would jump out of his seat out of excitement. Follow spot had a slight problem again, but as soon as Michael said “I’m in the dark, where am I?” the spot found him.

Naturally he thanked Southampton for the wonderful Hairspray experience he had there and everyone seemed truly sad that Edna had left the building and he would no longer shaving his parts.

This second half flew by so fast. The one moment he is Norma Desmond and the next we are in the middle of “Somebody to love”. Again the mad rush started with “Avenues and Alleyways”. It was a great party down there. The response he got was amazing and you could tell he was truly touched. He kept thanking the audience and he even promised that from now on they would come back every tour.

Southampton definitely got Michael there. The Royal Albert Hall next. Oooooh, scary! But we know it will be just as magical as every concert has been so far. Looking forward to London and talk to you soon.

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Southampton - 19 June 2011
06/19/11 @ 11:52:53 am, Categories: Pre Stage Door, 269 words   English (US)

Touring can be mad at times… well most times. In these past three days, the schedule took us from Portsmouth ( A ) to Bristol ( B ) and then to Southampton ( C ).

For both trips we chose to drive via Bath and Salisbury on the A36 and strongly recommend that route to anyone who wants to see a bit of scenic England.

Anyway, we’re back at the coast and we’ve been here before. We came and visited Edna in May 2010 and not much has changed, apart from one vital bit: The stage door is on the other side of the building now! But luckily we have wonderful fan friends who informed us of this innovation the night before.

We got there nice and early and watched the ominous dark grey clouds gather. The buses arrived shortly after four pm and then nothing happened for 15 minutes. We thought this is odd, when suddenly he appeared at the bus doors and stood there chatting to his crew for a few seconds before anyone really noticed him. We all cottoned on quickly though and he apologised and explained that he had to finish watching a movie in the bus. Surely it must be odd knowing that there are 30 women waiting outside your tour bus to watch you walk into a building while you are immersed in watching a movie.

We can happily inform you that although the clouds grew darker by the minute while he was finishing his movie it remained dry until the second he was out of sight! Perfect timing! Enjoy the photos and we will get back to you after the concert.

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Bristol - 18 June 2011
18/06/11 @ 07:56:04 pm, Categories: Shows, Pre Stage Door, Post Stage Door, Travel, 706 words   English (UK)

Took the scenic A36 to Bristol instead of the quicker, but more boring motorway. Got there with plenty of time, met up with Angela and family and eventually joined the other fans at the stage door.

The Colston Hall has several back doors, so we were relieved that the others had sussed out, where he would go in. At roughly 20 to five he came walking up the street, tour bus safely parked at the curve. He took his time with everyone and even held a baby of one of the fans. That was so cute.

We spent the rest of the day with Angela and her lovely family and time jsut flew by. For this concert we had tickets in row G and had been busy moaning about being so far back, but you know what? Those were excellent seats, we were in the centre, surrounded by lots of fan friends and all in all had a much better view than from row C on the side in Portsmouth.

From the final Hairspray show we knew the Bristol crowd could make some noise and we were not disappointed.

Quite a few flashes went off (although were we were sitting, it was not as bad as it has been at Portsmouth) and we got the group flash again. This is a fabulous idea and we had already liked it in 2005. Sadly not everyone got it and there were still several flashes going off through the next song, but after that it got much better.

The New York Medley got a great reception with lots of applause after every single sequent. Certainly a highlight for us. Again Michael said they would be all so young, attractive and stars of the future and again he wondered “What the hell am I doing? I must be out of my mind!”

He also told us all that he had met Barry Manilow, when Michael was hosting the Laurence Olivier Awards.

After the interval Michael re-appears on top of the stage at the end of the Sunset Boulevard Overture. This is a quite dramatic entrance as he is already full in character, performing “As if we never said goodbye". Tonight however the audience got a bit distracted. Due to the confined stage Michael had to make his entrance through the opening in the middle of the starry curtain. And his microphone was already on, when they parted it and you could clearly hear the ripping sound of the velcro strips. But this was only a moment of laughter, then everyone listened in awe.

He praised the Bristol crowd for having given Hairspray and Edna the perfect send-off and then talked about Sweeney a bit, saying he was really, really nervous about it, which led to a lady from the circle shouting something encouraging to him and he said he wished he could hear it and took out one of his ear monitors and actually had a quick conversation from stage to circle. It was quite hilarious.

Party time again saw people running to the stage for “Avenues and Alleyways". A security guy sent about two people back, but then gave up and a few latecomers joined the crowd during “A pencil full of lead". By then the audience just went wild. Sometimes during “Help Yourself” it felt like Lady’s Night at a high end night club! Bristol really loves Michael and it’s always a joy to see him getting the reaction he deserves. We like a noisy crowd.

The person who designed the light show really deserves a special mention. For the first time during this tour we could fully appreciate staging. The set with its many clever lights seems like one of the performers. It has its own role to play and sets the tone beautifully. These lights can be anything, fromt he star-spangled banner to the skyscrapers of New York, but also a dramatic Sunset. Quite amazing.

This reception must surely have meant even more to him as Cathy was in the audience tonight.

And it did not rain. What more can a fan ask for? Tomorrow we’ll head back down to the coast for the Southampton gig. Another Hairspray venue, so we expect a lot of noise again. YAy.

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Portsmouth - 17 June 2011
17/06/11 @ 07:16:59 pm, Categories: Shows, 532 words   English (GB)

We have been looking forward to this concert as Portsmouth is always so very enthusiastic seeing that Michael is a “homey” (his second home is just a few miles down the road). The fact that it had finally stopped to rain was an added bonus.

This time we had seats at the side and it was an intersting change of perspective. Portsmouth did not disappoint. He got a very warm welcome and the crowd seemed determined to love whatever he was giving them. We love these kinds of concerts.

In contrast to the previous shows we’ve been to there were many flashes going off during the first few songs, which must have annoyed Michael quite a bit as he then said he’d forgotten to make an announcement. He asked to refrain from using mobile phones, recording devices and flash photography. Instead he re-introduced the classic “group flash". This means that he asked everyone to get their cameras out and promised he would pose for one shot. The ensuing thunderstorm of flashlights when he poses looked really rather pretty. A few still kept going on and he told individuals off for flashing him.

While introducing “Misty” and mentionning the uncanny similarities between Michael’s and Clint Eastwood’s characters life (both have their own radio show) Michael announced that Sunday Brunch would be back from 3 July! YAY!

As a side remark: Michael mentionned he first saw Tom Jones live in Portsmouth.

After finishing the New York medley and having introduced his five guest singers he remarked how they were all good-looking and younger than he was. “What the hell am I doing sharing the stage with them!?!”

Talking about being now “Bessie mates Bazza Manilow” and him having lent Michael the sparkly show biz jacket he joked “Yeah I wish I could get into anything of this” (awww).

In the second act, when he had finished the Les Mis section he said he could still be Marius, if “you (the audience) are a mile away". We learned that rehearsals for Sweeney Todd would start really soon. Exciting times!

The rest of the evening went swimmingly, except for one thing. Most people ran to the front straight after “Somebody to love". Could we here now please start a petition to officially start party time with “Avenues and Alleyways"? It is an uptempo song, everyone thinks it’s the beginning of Party time anyway and you end up way behind everyone for waiting until “Pencil full of lead". Please let us run for “Avenues and alleyways".

But anyways, everyone was having a great time. He received tumultous applause and seemed truly happy with the reception he got. He told us all how this was a special evening as it was the first “Michael Ball concert” for his nephew and niece, who were sat in the circle. They sure seemed to have a great time.

They could not have picked a better venue for their premiere and boy did he deliver. Another brilliant, amazing, fantastic, super tour concert. And when we all waved his bus off it still was not raining, bliss!

So off to do it all again tomorrow in Bristol. Let’s see if he gets them too!

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Portsmouth Stage Door - Wet Wet Wet
06/17/11 @ 12:08:18 pm, Categories: Pre Stage Door, 307 words   English (US)

For us it was another typical Portsmouth stage door. Just as the Met Office had predicted: 4pm saw the beginning of heavy rain showers.

At school we were taught the saying: “It’s raining cats and dogs". Now we know what it means. Quite amazingly the crowd was bigger than the one in Ipswich, where it was a fine dry day. As we stood there for an hour in pooring rain and gusts of icy wind, we wondered more than once whether we could explain this sort of behaviour to a non-fan. Probably not.

Eventually the band started arriving. Twice we were told that we were very brave and this just shows how bad it was. Whenever we thought it eased off a little it just came back with a vengeance, completely soaked to the skin. That’s what we were.

Another first time: A crew member came out and handed small packets of crisps to everyone. This was so kind. Finally at 5pm the bus arrived. We were quite impressed with how he reversed through very narrow gates. Not a job we’d want! We all were sure that in this weather, Michael would simply wave and dash off and quite rightly so. But oh no, he got an umbrella got out, we all formed a nice line at the open gate and he came to chat for a short while.

This was so sweet of him, okay, so he called us all “drowned rats", but we feel this was appropriate. We could not get the proper camera out in all the rain, but managed a few shots with the mobile phone. Sorry about that, but we did not want to risk damaging our equipment, as has happened before … and yes that was as well in Portsmouth.

Enjoy piccies and we will get back to youz after the show!

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Ipswich Concert
06/15/11 @ 08:24:32 pm, Categories: General, 693 words   English (US)

First things first: the auto cue was not ideally placed for taking photos (they made an announcement saying no flash photography and we really did not see many go off. It was great!) but the view was fine as the stage was not too close.

There were not too many people on their feet when Michael made his entrance but he nevertheless received a warm welcome. Ipswich is always good fun and tonight was the same. During Bad Things the ladies sitting in the first row of the side block went completely wild when he approached them. We loved that of course as this is one of our favourites…and really oh so naughty.

Michael seemes relaxed and chatty and the voice was in fine form. And you know what it’s like: the more the audience gives the more we receive - some of these notes were out of this world.

The Misty story was back complete with retraining order and pointing at fan and tonight the follow spot worked perfectly (in Oxford it came on much too late and Michael - in complete darkness - said that it was rather dark here….no reaction “Hello!?!” and then it finally came on).

Really, really loving the New York section (and have to admit we prefer Laura’s Empire State of Mind to the original actually)! All the gang are so talented. After Michael was back on stage he said how wonderful they all were, very attractive, bright future ahead…"they make me sick” LOL Yeah, we feel you…nah, just kidding of course. A joy for the eyes and the ears indeed.

Did we already mention the fantastic light concept of the show? Probably, but we hope you will see for yourself on some of the pictures.

Oh and there was a photographer there for the opening number. So watch out for tomorrow’s newspapers local fans! Sadly we are already en route to Portsmouth ourselves.

Can we just say again hhow much we love Sunset Boulevard? It’s not a mere song anymore it’s a short play! We are now spoilt forever of course, no one else can sing and perform that one like him.

Dito “Somebody to Love". The arrangement is fantastic and it’s alomost overwhelmingly brilliant.

The party time was so much fun. The place went completely crazy! BUT it was not a pushy affaire. Or at least not at the stage, we couldn’t say about further back. You had room to wriggle but everyone was down there having a good time.

The intro to One Step Out of Time is a bit different this tour. Love the new elegance of those first lines.

And that last note of Love Changes…? To die for - how he manages that after 2 hours of singing is an utter mystery to us. But thank you so much for working so hard for us all!

Afterwards we floated back to the “stage gate". Quite a crowd already there. The gates were open which was unusual, but as musicians and staff left through there with their cars it could not be helped. We could see that near to the bus a small group of people in wheelcharis were waiting for Michael with programmes ready. We were so pleased for them as often at places like Ipswich with gates instead of doors soemone who cannot stand and fight to the front will hardly ever get an autograph. Michael got out to them almost unnoticed by the large crowd waiting on the outside of the gates but then you could see flashlights from the cameras down there and suddenly most people started rushing down to the bus and Michael. This sadly meant that the time the little group had with him was shortened drastically as he practically ran to the bus saying he had to leave and thanks everyone for coming and was gone.

Apart from this little incident of fan madness it was a most enjoyable evening and we look forward to returning for the next tour. Always a great crowd in Ipswich. :)

Day off tomorrow with some sightseeing and then he will come and get Portsmouth. Can’t wait!

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Ipswich Stage Door
06/15/11 @ 12:18:17 pm, Categories: General, 318 words   English (US)

After a fabulous last night and a great time with Angela, we had to get her to the train station and get on our way to Ipswich.

Everything went smoothly. Well, once we were in Ipswich and received our tickets (front row, dead centre, but well…. the auto cue might mean we will only be able to listen to the concert, fingers crossed we will see though)… Kerstin’s mum phoned to tell her that someone English phoned, all she understood was Travelodge as she does not really speak English. So now we have to find out, what this all was about. Fingers crossed, we will have a hotel tonight!

When we got to the “stage gate” (just cannot call it stage door), Michael’s still damaged bus left. Ten minutes later, when we were still alone it got back, but no Michael inside. He finally arrived in the second bus with the other singers.

We actually asked Michael’s bus driver what happened to the bus and he said a lorry reversed into it the other night, when he was asleep in it. They are going to get the damaged window repaired tomorrow.

So, the bus with Michael entered through the gates and by the time Michael got out the gates were closing again, sadly! He commented, that this is how he likes his fans: Behind bars. And then somehow the gate opened again. Leaving him shouting: Are you mad, opening these gates? But we were only a small crowd and behaved. This means we all remained standing as if there were gates and he stood in the middle and chatted to us all.

Various people commented on the great set list and he agreed, adding that it was very demanding. We believe him! So many money notes. It was a very relaxed affair and after a few minutes he left for the sound check.

So that’s it for now.

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Oxford - 14/06/2011
06/14/11 @ 07:52:46 pm, Categories: General, 369 words   English (US)

What a fantastic night!! Oxford just LOVES Michael. Best audience reaction we had so far (see “Michael cuddles the audience” photo).

Fab night! Okay, so he had to start On Broadway again because he and the band were out of synch but that was much fun. He laughed (tho we know he is not too keen on things going wrong) and took it in his stride of course.

Lots of joking about him as young, virile, handsome Marius and the fact that he could still play this part of course…

A couple came late – sometime after Bad Things - and they had the misfortune to arrive between two songs and Michael naturally commented, saying something about along the lines of “you missed loads”. Mental note: never be late for a Michael Ball concert and try sneaking in unnoticed. He WILL comment.

We were at the side, on the aisle, in front row. Just about perfect. Voice was fine and they didn’t mind photos so we took a few (without a flash of course and with the display switched off). We hope you enjoy them!

There was an orchestra pitch (band was on stage as always of course) so there was no hand holding/fan kissing during the Elvis number.

The day was perfect not least because we were joined by our darling friend Angela and had a fab stage door (unusual for Oxford he didn’t just step out from the bus and into the building but instead got out of the bus at the end of the lane and walked past all the gathered fans). We finally got to say a proper hello to Sandra and Adrian and the sun has finally made an appearance. It was the first proper summer day we had on this trip.
We noticed the windscreen of the coach was damaged. This must have happened sometime between Cardiff and Oxford. It looks dangerous and expensive. It must be difficult to drive this huge bus on the wrong side (it’s an Austrian tour bus).

Tomorrow we will head off to Ipswich - and upload the stage door photos from Oxford. Running late again (1:45 am) so we concentrated on the concert ones first.

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Cardiff - the show
06/13/11 @ 05:50:46 am, Categories: General, 457 words   English (US)

Michael leaves the stage during the New York medley (at the beginning of Fame). He makes his entrance during New York New York, where he elegantly walks down the steps, singing. And this time finished of with a little hop at the bottom. After finishing with an amazing money note, he admitted to almost slipped down those stairs and whose idea were they anyways, and “did you ever try to walk down stairs with a spot light” on yourself. “Whose idea was it anyways?” (we bet it was his).

Party time began a bit early. “Somebody to love” received a well-deserved standing ovation, which led to party time beginning one song too early as the front row just remained standing throughout “Avenues and Alleyways". The seats are very close to the stage anyways, so there was no mad rush to the stage. This must have been the most relaxed party time we ever had. We went to the stage at the beginning of “Pencil full of Lead” and it was nice to be able to dance with loads of space around you, with no one pushing from behind. A very calm affair. Fabulous!

We were amazed how the audience reaction changed throughout the concert. At the very beginning (and we were sitting in the fourth row on the aisle) hardly anyone around us stood up for the first song. It were basically the first two to three rows. The same goes for the usual standing ovations after “New York” Medley and “This is the moment". Many stood, just as many remained seated, but towards the end of the concert, when it was time to party: Boy, did they party! The floor was actually vibrating and moving under our feet, it was almost scary, but in a good way, if you know what we mean.

It was fantastic and wonderful show. He sounded so fantastic and it’s remarkable how effortless all these money notes seem. Just a great night.

Stage door afterwards was very interesting. They had cordoned off the stage door area. There were three security people, who btw. were very fierce throughout the concert and stopped people taking photos throughout the whole concert. So we did not bother.

When Michael finally arrived it was apparent that he was in a real hurry. He thanked everyone and said he was off to do some filming and needed to rush. Hence we have just one photo of the Ball in motion.

All in all it was great to be back in Wales and see Debbie again and the show of course. Another great memory.

Today is a day off and we are bound to explore the coast a bit. We will get back to you from Oxford tomorrow.

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Stage Door Cardiff
06/12/11 @ 12:01:38 pm, Categories: General, 107 words   English (US)

We are just back at the hotel after a quick stage door trip. The good thing about the Millennium Center? You don’t have to stand in the rain and storm, which is a very big pro today. The big problem: It’s inside and it’s dark and tough on photos and Michael will come walking down from the stage door to the fans. And that’s what he did. He said he was a bit tired and you could tell. However, he stayed for two or three photos, which was lovely and went in.

And now we are getting ready for the concert tonight. so talk to you later.

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Arrived in Cardiff
06/12/11 @ 09:34:56 am, Categories: General, 179 words   English (US)

Thanks to Faye’s and Joan’s good advice we found a bargain sat nav in Birmingham this morning. Thanks a million! Mind you, once we had it set up and typed in the hotel addy it kept saying place not found….then we tried Cardiff as such and it said “Town not Found". Hum, this was odd, surely even with dated maps a whole town shouldn’t disappear! And then we started the process again and foudn out we had to change the country! From England to Wales. Appologies to the Welsh for our ignorance but we had no idea LOL were quite desperate at one point and almost went back to the shop claiming our money back :oops:

Anywhere, just got here via incredibly landscapes…some parts of the country simply look better in the rain. There were clouds stuck in the hills and everything. Magical.

It’s pouring down and the wind is fierce, but the Millennium Centre is all lovely and you can wait inside.

We will get back to you as soon as possible after the stage door.

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Birmingham - He came and got us!
11/06/11 @ 09:16:56 pm, Categories: General, 2012 words   English (UK)

The morning started…. well… we tried to find out how much a sat nav would be for our 16 remaining days. And guess what? Avis would charge so much money… we can well buy a new one and keep it at that price. So we spend the day searching for sat navs, which is far less easy than one should think and we have not been successful yet. Hopefully tomorrow.

Stage Door

We decided to go there early as todays concert was to be filmed for DVD release, so we figured he might be earlier than usual for additional preparations. A small-ish crowd had already gathered and we were informed that the bus has just left to pick him up. Spend the short wait with catching up with everyone and at a quarter to four he arrived.

The bus reversed into the parking area and heavy gates were shot behind it. So it was a Ball behind bars scenario. Very kindly though he walked up behind the gates, even though he was not meant to be out in the cold. Sadly we were standing at an unfortunate angle so could not take photos due to the bars. And once he walked up and said hello the camera batteries were flat, so no stage door photos. Sorry everyone. It was short and sweet and then he was off. Our first tour stage door, over. We can tell you one thing though: He is looking mighty fine. We are quite jealous at all this weight loss.

We spent the remaining hours with our two favourite Australians and had such a laugh. Thanks girls!

The Show

Beforehand everyone has told us to be prepared. His voice was amazing, the show was amazing, the set was amazing, everything was amazing. And what can we say? Everyone was completely right!

when he came on stage in a beautiful jacket and unforgettable dark gray jeans sounding the best we have heard in years, we were completely blown away. This was it, we were really there. The stage was not too high and we were sat on the second row on the aisle. Perfect seats. It has to be said that some people in the front row will have had trouble seeing anything at all. The teleprompters are huge, so we were very happy wehre we were.

The set list has not changed and we hope Emma doesn’t mind us copying hers:

Act 1

Overture - various movie themes including Indiana Jones, James Bond, Flash Gordon

Holding Out For A Hero: Wonderful choice, set the mood brilliantly, loving it.

Bad Things: We have anticipated this moment with a passion since the beginning of the tour. We have always wanted him to do the opening song of HBO’s series True Blood. It’s utterly sexy and so very naughty. To be completely honest with you, parts of us were borderline hysteric due to the song being included in the set list and we were not disappointed. With his very deep notes and tantalizing lyrics the first highlight of the evening came very early on. A big thank you to Michael for granting us our biggest wish.

Don’t Stop Believing: We are old enough the remember the Journey version. great song.

He introduced the Heroes theme and also mentionned that it was appropriate he was recording the concert in Birmingham, where he was born (down the road in Bromsgrove). He grew up playing and listening to the music of his heroes. Some of the choices he made were more obvious than others. Some were and some weren’t. So he asked who was a fan of Long John Baldry and as several stated they were he said that some might not have heard of him. He thinks he is brilliant and he has chosen his biggest hit:

Let The Heartaches Begin

The next choice is no big surprise as it is a hit by Neil Diamond. It had to be from the 70s as that was the time Michael started to really getting into music. Michael was at his most open than and listened to the lyrics and was not only into the mainstream stuff, but the lyrics were important. He believes Neil Diamond to be a real poet and the song he chose demonstrates that:

Play Me

Misty is supoposed to be one of Johnny Mathis’ most romantic songs and it was used in a movie that starred Clint Eastwood. “So the similarities start there already.” He was a radio host (just like Michael) and he had loads of fans, “yes this is working and one of these fans got a bit carried away. Used to go everywhere, did not listen to the restraining order (he picked one person of the audience and kept throwing evil looks at her, then pointed at her and said) Could be in trouble". The film of course is “Play Misty for me":

Misty

I’ll Never Fall In Love Again: Lovely deep note in here. Wonderful edginess after all the polished romance. Shows off his wide range. Great song and stunning performance! Later he mentionned that it was recommended to him by non other than Mr. Tom Jones. “Mike, you want a good song? That’s the one!”

Roger Wilson from Michael’s band played a stunning solo of “Rhapsody in Blue", amazing lightshow as well, this will look spectacular on the DVD. He got an extra applause for that. Well deserved. Perfect opening for:

New York State of Mind

He knew he wanted to sing NY State of Mind and this inspired him to include a whole medley of NY themed songs. NY is an amazing place, there is nothing like it. “It’s exciting, terrifying, invigorating, it’s exhausting, it’s overwhelming and it’s possibly my 2nd favourite city in the world (pause - laughter from the audience) work with me here, Birmingham!” He wanted to pay a tribute to a city and if ther is a place that is heroic, that is New York.

On Broadway (with Adrian and Gary): Michael is alone on stage, then Adrian joins him and we get a kind of stroll-on-Broadway dance routine, where they are finally joined by Gary. Eventually they were joined by the three girls Holly, Laura and Sandra (all five of them looked glamorous) and that kicks of a fantastic rendition of:

Empire State of Mind (Laura)

Englishman in New York (Gary and Michael): We are not so keen on the original (sorry Sting), but this arrangement was fabulous.

Fame (Holly): Amazing! Dance routine and all. Such a joy to watch.

Broadway Baby (Sandra): Sandra is just fantastic, we love her! We were so happy when we learned that she would be on the tour with Michael. A phenomenon.

New York New York: Well a classic, with money note. Mind you, sadly, as it is a NY medley none of the songs is sung in full. At some point during the medley we lost Michael and he returned for this song, waring a jacket with lovely sparkling lapels. And the beloved starry curtain is back (in contrast to last tour however, the curtain did not receive an entrance applause).

A well deserved standing ovation at the end of the New York medley.

He introduced the final number of the first half by saying that the best thing about being in NY, when you live there, is getting out of New York. He described the beauties of New England, Indian Summer, the quietness after the hectic city. There is a song dedicated to this beautiful place, which was written and performed by Barry Manilow, who Michael had met very recently (as you do!). Apparently Michael has played him his (Michael’s) version of his (Barry’s) song and he (Barry) had said that it was the first time that he had heard record it. Quote: “I know, me and Bazza! He lend me the jacket!”

Weekend in New England

Act 2

Sunset Boulevard Overture

Michael returned in a tuxedo, complete with a bow tie and patent leather shoes. YUMMY.

As If We Never Said Goodbye

Sunset Boulevard: Amazing, Amzaing, Amazing! (Sorry, we know it’s repetitive, but it’s in the middle of the night, bear with us). We’ve never heard a better rendition of the song. He really acts it and, oh, can he be bitter and angry. Just fantastic, a real highlight.

Before he started introducing Les Mis, we noticed him pointing at the auto cue monitors and looking sideways to the sound desk several times. So apparently something was not working properly. Apparently this was fixed after a little while. He finished his introduction, where he talked about the 25th anniversary, saying that he hoped that he will still sing it in 25 years and that we were still be there to listen to him sing it (so do we!).

Empty Chairs At Empty Tables

I Dreamed A Dream

“Who would have thought 25 years ago, that I would be an overweight, agoraphobic housewife from Baltimore, 25 years later. Where did it all go wrong?” He told us how much fun he had doing Hairspray, but that Edna was gone now, that he was hanging up the high heels, the fake boobs and the big hair, well at least in public. “What I do in my private life is my own business!” He then told us all about his next role, being a serial killer and that he always dreamed of being Sweeney Todd. To introduce it, he had combined two songs of the show:

Pretty Women / Not While I’m Around

This Is The Moment: second standing ovation of the evening.

Somebody To Love: Just Great!

Avenues and Alleyways: Always takes us back to Dreamboats and Petticoats, which we saw twice in London with Ben James-Ellis and Tony Christie. We are pleased to report that unlike the night before, no one came to the front too early.

Pencil Full of Lead: Rush to the stage, which as we said was not very high and so you felt really close to all the action on stage.

One Step Out Of Time: Can we call it a classic?

He said he left his greatest hero until the end: Elvis Presley.

I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You: A beautiful rendition. Elvis songs always suit him so well.

He said the first good-beys for the night. The crowd was really enthusiastic. It was a great mock end of the concert. Naturally he returned after a few minutes after frantic applause, stamping and cheering.

Encore

Help Yourself: oh, those hips! And he knows that he’s looking mighty fine! A joy to behold.

Love Changes Everything:
Stunning money note. How he does it after two hours of singing, we will never know.

For Once In My Life: A tender “good night” after a spectacular show.

And that was it. Our first tour concert. You would not have noticed that he was so ill that he had to cancel a concert a few nights ago. The voice was so smooth and tender at some notes and so precise and strong at others. Constant shivers down our spines. Quite an experience after so many years with our beloved Edna. We hope he is pleased with the result of the recording. It was a special night. Truly magical. Sorry about the gushing but we were on concert-withdrawal. Cannot wait for the 11 concerts to come and the dvd, of course.

At the stage door after the show he walked up to the gates again and thanked everyone before climbing into the bus, waving at the gathered crowd.

We spent of “after show party” at Barbara’s hotel room together with husband Andrew (who had the most amazing stories to tell about their journey to Germany), Steve, Emma and Tina - oh and Saffy the dog, of course. We had such a good time (even got Will & Kate paper cups! Yay!!). Thank you for having us. This of course meant that we got “home” a bit late and thus it is no ten past three.

We will get back to you from Cardiff tomorrow. Good night everyone!

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On the road again
06/10/11 @ 06:44:40 pm, Categories: General, 588 words   English (US)

Unfortunately we cannot provide you with a fantastic review of the first Birmingham concert as we only just arrived… after the concert, but that was planned.

So let’s see, how has our trip been so far? (prepare for a long moan)

Julia flew over to Kerstin in the early morning (after a very long night of frantic packing), so we could travel together to Birmingham. First problem: Her luggage weighed 22 kilos (it’s 17 days after all!!) - but the airline allowed only 20 which meant she had to repack at the check-in desk at her airport in front of a VERY long queue and with hand luggage that was already full to bursting (yes, I am aware of the fact that 70 % of the clothes will travel back home without having been worn once…but it’s 17 whole days and 12 concerts!). Sqeezed a pair of evening shoes and some bits and bobs into her now worrisomely bulky hand luggage and the kind check-in person let her pass. Phew.

Arried at Kerstin’s: Rain. A few hours of frantic packing (Kerstin) and tired staring at the TV(Julia) later we were on our way to Dusseldorf airport on the train (with two very large and heavy suitcases and heavy hand luggage…it felt like a small move. Why oh why do we always take the entire wardrobe?? Will we ever learn? Nah, guess not.

Once we got on our way we were joined by a huge group of young, very drunk and very loud Dutch boys, who added the fun to the fact that we had to stand for the whole train ride. Fed up before we even started? You bet.

It was equally crowded at the airport, security and at the gate, but at least we eventually got seats there. So everything was fine…. Until Julia handed her ticket and passport to the steward, who greeted her, took her ticket, told her they had to change our seats for technical reasons. Great. and then he ripped her ticket apart and handed her a new one. Guess what? Of course we were not meant to sit together anymore. Which is really fabulous as for the first time ever we paid money beforehand to choose our seats! So we basically bought them half a year ago and now they separated us. Thank you Flybe, that’s what I call service and rest assured we want our money back!

Good news. Lovely lady sitting next to Julia agreed to swap places with Kerstin. Happy Bunnies.

Then we got our luggage, intact and everything, got to the car rentals and weyhey, got an upgrade and now we are driving a sparkling new Volkswagen Golf, which feels extremely like home. So all’s good? Nope! 11 years of travelling and rest assured there is always something very important Kerstin manages to leave at home. This time it’s the Sat Nav! GURRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR.

Let’s put it this way, we printed route planners, just in case… and it said the trip would last 22 minutes, but we managed to make 45 out of it, because we just could not find the blxxdy hotel.

So, yes, here we are, back in England, back in Birmingham and back on tour. And tomorrow we will try our best to get to Avis and ask for a sat nav. Fingers crossed.

On a happy note. We are glad Michael is feeling a bit better and able to perform. Get fighting fit again soon MIchael and we hope it went well for you.

So Tour 2011, we are coming to get ya!

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