JustBall.Net on the road blog - Read about our adventures
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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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Manchester - most memorable
10/03/09 @ 06:58:58 pm, Categories: Shows, Pre Stage Door, General, Travel, 896 words   English (US)

This morning we woke up to severe weather warnings and gales of 70 miles per hour. This slowed down our journey to Manchester, a bit. We would have been there nice and early, but Lisa (the sat nav) had decided to guide us through Manchester city, where we more or less stood for 30 minutes.

We got there in time for Michael, but unfortunately there was no space left for our car, apart from one car park belonging to a wholesaler. So, we just parked there and got to the stage door. We were a bit apprehensive about our little parking space, but then there was a continuous flow of traffic. So we stood there and waited in the freezing storm. We certainly had seen many nicer days. Roughly a quarter to five the “Star Security” began to move us all from the street, so the bus would be able to drop Michael off at the stage door. The bus finally arrived, reversed and stopped directly in front of the stage door. Michael got off, looking lovely and sounding much better than yesterday. He did say though that he had a tired throat. Naturally he got in rather quickly. We would not want him standing in a fierce storm.

But what happened next does not have anything to do with Michael, really, but it certainly cost us quite a number of years. Goooood….. okay, if you are only interested in the concert review, just skip this paragraph and get down the “the concert” bit. Otherwise, read on:

So: Here we were, Michael had just got in and we were happily talking to friends, when a quick glance to the car park stopped us dead in our tracks. They were just locking the gates and driving away. We tried to make a mad dash for it, but too late. The car was in there, locked behind a massive metal fence. All our belongings were in the car, including tickets (row F, Centre), the hotel confirmations, just about everything, apart from us and our purses.

Brilliant, just brilliant. First we phoned the company that guards the premises, but low and behold, they had no key to the car park (we still wonder how the hell they would be protecting the premises without a key to the gate!). Then we phoned the company itself, but of course no one answered the phone. With the help from our friends we even tried the non-emergency police hotline, no joy. We would have to wait until they opened again at nine am the next day. We should mention that our hotel was a 20 minutes car ride away. We were stuck, without tickets, without clothes to change, without anything really. Said friend offered to get us to our hotel after the show and we then decided to make the most of the rotten situation and try to get ticket duplicates. So we headed to the box office and asked for their help. The guy there could not really understand our problem and kept asking, if we could not just get the tickets out of the car. That would be much easier. “well, but would not be able to climb the fence!” we informed him. He then replied this would not be a problem, as they were using said carpark for the concert parking and would re-open it around six. The guy manning the main car park should have the keys. We could have kissed him!!!! A true Eureka moment. Oh and by the way, we have not been alone with our plight. There was another car locked in as well. If they had put up signs, saying they would re-open the thing it would have spared us a nasty shock, an hour of the day spent with desperate phone calls and the embarrassment at the box office. But hey, this is the kind of adventure that will make a wonderful stage door anecdote in the future. We then had a very rushed dinner (thanks for having us!) and did not get changed in the end. At least we had our tickets.

Concert time:

Initially we were worried about Michael’s voice, but this proved to be unnecessary. He sounded wonderful and the audience adored him. This was the reception he deserves every night. The place went completely wild and he seemed so relaxed and even added a little dance to “Human”. The key change in The Rose remained as did the two omissions. A little strain was still audible, but only when you were in the know.

Loads of standing ovations, standing through the first two songs too! Cheers and applause in abandon. This was the perfect audience. It was just such an enjoyable experience being part of the excitement and seeing how it moved everybody on stage.

Just before the encore Michael admitted to having been nervous before he got onto the stage, because of his voice, but everything was fine now and he was close to tears when he took his final bow, repeating “amazing” over and over again. For us this was definitely the best audience so far.

We love you Manchester and wonder whether this atmosphere can be beaten by any of the future concerts. We have our doubts. But we hope for the best. It was all so well deserved. The perfect end to a turbulent day. Next stop: Ipswich..

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Edinburgh - Addition
10/01/09 @ 04:40:05 am, Categories: Shows, General, Travel, 106 words   English (US)

What we forgot to mention last night:

Michael got quite excited, when he told the audience about the upcoming Hairspray tour. He just could not wait to get to Edinburgh next year and an added bonus would be that he would spent New Year 2011 in Edinburgh. He was just like a little boy who could not wait for Christmas. At latest, when he started a little scottish dance you could tell, he will love every second of it there.

So, with brilliant weather outside we are about to leave the hotel soon and drive down to Newcastle taking a scenic coastal route. Talk to you soon.

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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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