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Plymouth – the final curtain
10/10/09 @ 04:05:44 am, Categories: General, 1296 words   English (US)

It really is over….very hard to get our head around that fact, which is why we didn’t write this yesterday night. The grim truth needed a while to sink in.

The stage door was lovely as you may have seen on our video. It even stopped raining when he arrived (usually it had been the other way around recently). He seemed subdued though. This may have been to rest the voice or because he was moved (he said that he doesn’t take the fan support for granted and was all sweet about it…glad he didn’t elaborate or we would have been in tears!)…or both.

We grabbed some food afterwards (he had been nice and early) did the website stuff and then got ready for the final concert of the tour. Back in front row which made a nice chance from being far, far away in Cardiff. It has to be said though that while we were standing in the aisle in front of the stage before the concert started, looking for our friends, one lady seemed to be most seriously displeased with us. No idea why really. We didn’t do anything, just stood there and scanned the audience. Ok, we were wearing the same dress (It’s a double-wide twin bunny thing) but that can hardly cause offence? Or can it? She gave us all sorts of displeased looks and sighed heavily, shaking her head. NOT the best start to the evening. Ah well, we hope she enjoyed the evening despite having two girls in the same outfit a few seats down the row LOL

Sadly once again the fans were really scattered throughout the auditorium, most a few rows back (or a few more) and not in one block. So while most of the audience was on their feet for the first song, many still remained sitting. Not the last night we had hoped for. Polite applause frankly is not what you want for him after a long tour. The ticket sales system killed the atmosphere; it’s as simple as that. We are all for a fan-block-allocation. Then those who want to clap politely can do so in peace and those who want to stand up for the first song and the one or other standing ovation can do so with like-minded people without getting on the nerves of others. Rant over, sorry about that.

Back to the show: Mack the Knife was by now firmly back on the set list, but seeing that in one point during Seasons of Love Michael’s voice was completely gone, we knew we wouldn’t get to hear Winner Takes It All again. While this was sad of course, we were happy he didn’t go for it no matter what. This tour has been very demanding with money notes left right and centre. The Pavilions being a smaller venue meant that we had the joy of hearing his actual voice again, not merely the speaker sound like in the big arenas. So we knew from the start that things were not 100%. But Michael Ball with a 90% voice is still a world more impressive than most singers on top form. He completely blew us away (slight rasp in the voice for us only adds to the pleasure, but we feel bad about it, for we know he will not be happy). Also there seemed to be a sound problem throughout the whole show, not so much
one that affected the audience but one that affected the sound for those on stage. There were a few occasions when the tempo was a bit off, probably because Michael couldn’t hear the band properly. Again, no one will have noticed…you’d have to have seen the show a few times to pick up on it. They are all professionals up there, quite impressive.

In the second half things seemed back on track (there were moments in the first half that had us really worried, but again those who only saw one show will not have noticed anything being wrong, apart from that moment in Seasons of Love, which he solved with a quick sip of water and a charming reference after the song). We did our best to memorise the sparkly tie and enjoy everything for one last time. Relishing in the songs, the music, the light concept…this was just SUCH a wonderful show. (Roll on DVD!!)

We can happily report that he even won the polite clappers over and in the end there was a healthy amount of partying going on. Everything was perfect…until…

He came back on stage for Impossible Dream…well, he made his little speech about having a truly blessed life and career and the mood was festive yet melancholic, everything was wonderful and he had started the first few lines when suddenly there was this almighty noise from the speakers. We think one of them had died. Poor Michael pulled his ear monitor out like a shot (just hearing this sound from standing in front of the stage was bad, we do not want to know what it must have been like for him) and looked over to the sound desk (someone will be in trouble there). Magical moment ruined. Naturally Michael turned that into a laugh and simply began again after a few seconds…still, it was not the perfect end to a wonderful concert that he’d have deserved after all this hard work.

Naturally we went to the stage door and of course it was massively crowded, so we decided to stand way back on the sidewalk and watch everything from a distance. Big thanks to Adrian and Ben for coming over to us and some friends for a proper good-bye.

The tour is over. Two weeks of travelling through England, Scotland and Wales, more money spent, than we wish to remember, some scary moments (car crash, locked-in car, three near crashes, because we were not seen – next time we will get a bright red or pink or such car instead of silver-grey!), approximately 5 years less to live, because of all the stress. Was it worth it you wonder?

Absolutely! The show was brilliant, not one song we wished to fast forward. Each night it felt like the concert got shorter. The last three we actually wondered, if he cut anything, because we could no believe we had already reached Jesus Christ Superstar. Off stage, Michael was his usual charming self. We had the added bonus of lovely and gorgeous Adrian Hansel, our one and only Link, Ben James-Ellis. It was lovely to see Emma Williams again after such a long time. “Hasn’t she grown nicely?” (quote Michael Ball). Oh , yes, she has! We should not forget the two main discoveries of the tour: the two Louises. Louise Marshall did such a brill job with the arrangements and she shone impressively during Tell me it’s not True and I don’t know how to love him. Amazing that she had once been one of Michael’s backing singers. Our main discovery though is Louise Dearman. We fell in love with her warm and stunning voice right from the start.

What else made this tour extra special? It’s our friends! The old ones, the new ones… Memories of the most hysterical stage door ever at Glasgow…..

Best concert: Manchester

Highlight songs: If Everyone was Listening, Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, Mack the Knife, Mercy

Miles on Motorway: way over 1000

With special thanks to: Michael & gang, of course; Andrew; Helge & Petra; Pam & Rose-Marie, Gill & Maureen; Pat, Stella, Linda & Pam; Bev, Hillary & Brian; Marilyn, Mary & Susan; Audrey & Fran; Lorrie & Sue; Joan and Sharon.

Cardiff - Fabulous
10/09/09 @ 07:18:05 am, Categories: General, 617 words   English (US)

On our day off we had planned to drive around the south coast and we had a really good go at it. But then torrential rain set in and we fled the south. At some points it was so bad that we could not see the road properly. Rarely have we experienced anything like it. Apart from that we had a lovely day and made it in Cardiff in one piece.

Today the sun is out and waiting at the stage door (a gate) in the sun is much more fun than in the pouring rain. As is usual now they got the barriers out. We only wished this would have occurred to them in Brighton. So when the bus with the Ball finally arrived we all waved him caged in as we were. He came to the (open) gate, positioned himself in the middle and told us how he was not feeling too well, because they had a party last night. Lots of aaaahhhs from everyone.

When we almost feared he would just wave and go back in someone called him over for a photo or autograph and Michael being Michael, he obliged. He stood a while, talked to fans, signed things and then came over to our side of the barriers. With fans from America and Australia around us he commented, that he was now with his foreign contingent. Too true. It was lovely having him up close and relaxed. He said his voice was fine and he was determined to make some noise tonight, but that he’d probably should have taken a longer break between Hairspray and the Tour as he was exhausted. He looked mighty fine.


As you can tell by now, we were having difficulty getting the internet working at our hotel. Just fingers crossed we will be able to get it to work in Plymouth.

As is usual in Wales the audience is very giving seeing Michael is an “adopted Welshman”. Sadly however the fans were mainly seated in the block on the left hand side of the stage. This means virtually next to the stage or in the very back of the huge arena, but not in front of the stage. But he was in a fantastic mood and determined to have a good time.

During the first few songs excitement in the audience mounted and when we got to “Don’t stop me now” people were a bit previous and began singing along even before the actual line “Don’t”. Michael raised his eyebrows and stopped singing hands on his hips. His five companions on stage could not see that of course and sang merrily on. He turned round to them and said something to the extent “Either we do it together or not at all”. And then they sang it properly.

Just as in Brighton he sang Mack the Knife, but left The Winner Takes It All out.

He told us all how he loved being back in Cardiff and how he had insisted to kick off the Hairspray tour there. Massive cheers from the audience as you can imagine. He said he cannot wait to spend so much time in this beautiful city (So can’t we!)

The atmosphere was fantastic on and off stage. You can tell the tour is coming to an end. Elation on stage, nostalgia off stage. The last two concerts are always a bit weird. It was another great night and we could not believe how quickly it was all over and we were back outside to wave him in his bus goodbye.

Now, after several heavy downpours we are in Plymouth hoping for better weather for the final stage door,.

Brighton - Mack is back in town
10/06/09 @ 05:25:16 pm, Categories: Shows, General, 454 words   English (US)

Just back in the hotel to get changed after the concert. What an amazing night. Michael was in absolute top form and Mack the Knife was back on the song list. Still no Winner Takes it All though. The stage door afterwards was hell. We have in our time been at many, many stage doors. Only very rarely have we experienced such frenzy. It was a tiny bit scary even. Pushing, shoving. It was as if someone had dropped a chicken wing into a piranha pool (Michael = chicken wing). And naturally the minute he stepped out of the building heavens open, but the cold shower did nothing to calm down the ladies around us. Ah well. We survived.

The show itself was wonderful. For the first time, we sat at the left hand side of the stage. A new perspective and we can honestly say, it does not matter where you sit, the show is lovely from all angles. Only sitting in front of the speakers was a bit iffy. Our ears are still ringing with every money note. But hey, we were so happy to have all the money notes back, well almost all.

A slight drawback of arenas like tonight is that even though the audience is very positive the vibe tends to get lost a bit. he did get his standing ovations and cheers and big applause, but nevertheless it felt more quiet. But that is only due to the massive space.

Party time was lovely. The one security man did not try to stop anyone as apparently he had learned the error of his ways when he walked past the stage during One Step Out Of Time. he was apparently trying to police a few people who had remained standing for the song. The stage in this venue is very high so the poor man had no idea that while he was walking past the blocks of people Michael caught sight of him and walked along on stage, grinning mischievously. The security guard proved to have perfect timing. It could not have worked better, if they had rehearsed it. Just when Michael had got to the line “Now that you’ve gone, will you tell me, where I’ve been going wrong". The man turned into an aisle and walked away from him. Michael had a good time, laughing during the song, and so had we. For the remainder of the concert he sat on his chair and did not interfere with the proceedings.

Mercy keeps getting even better every time we see it. one of our favourites from the start it just rocks!

Off to Cardiff tomorrow, hopefully via some scenic routes, well we will see, and you will read :D

Brighton Stage Door
10/06/09 @ 12:36:38 pm, Categories: General, 158 words   English (US)

Just a little quickie as we are in the hotel and have a couple of minutes before we have to get ready for the show.

We already told you Michael did a great job last night in Ipswich. He really was giving it all and did not spare his voice. We were a bit nervous, if he overdid. Apparently we did not need to worry. He arrived at that stage door, being absolutely relaxed and telling us we might get “Mack the knife” and “The winner takes it all” back. Fingers crossed for that.

If you are interested, we uploaded a video clip of the stage door onto the site. It’s Windows Media Player file and I hope it will work for everyone. Sorry, that the pics are not that great, but the Brighton stage door is a really dark place and it’s not easy to get anything decent.

So now off to getting ready for the concert :>>

Ipswich - Up, Close and Personal
10/05/09 @ 08:38:55 pm, Categories: General, 1237 words   English (US)


After Manchester we headed into the direction of Ipswich, but because of some nice hotel offers we ended up spending the night in Kettering. Actually it was a rather lovely hotel …. or so we thought until it was time to take a shower in the morning. There was one bunny watching daytime television, while the second bunny was taking a shower. Or should we say, tried to take a shower. The only trouble was: You could decide, if you wanted to get cooked or if you wanted to freeze to death. There really was nothing in between. Funnily you could get the tab for the bathtub more or less creating a bearable temperature, cold, but bearable. As soon as you switched the water to shower it would be cooking hot or ice cube cold. Dignified as we are we ended up kneeling in the bathtub, trying to wash our hair and everything else that needs washing. It was one of the … most….. undignified things we ever did. LOL, we should have re-enacted it fully dressed and then filmed it for posterity, but we did not.

It’s a minor miracle we made it out of the hotel in time. Unbelievable, but this kind of non-shower took us much longer than any shower ever had. By noon we were on the road again. Grey skies all around, but what the heck. The weather forecast told us about sunshine in the afternoon and we believed them. We were still rather positive, when we got into the Ipswich region. When we reached Kesgrave though our hope started to fade as light drizzle became fully fledged rain within minutes.

What did we do in Kesgrave? About a year ago Emma Dodd started a school for performing arts and today it would finally be opened with Michael as special guest. For those who cannot remember, Emma was a castmate of Michael’s in Hairspray. She had asked the fan club to spread the word and many fans had gathered to give him a good reception.

We knew he’d arrive at 3pm. By that time the community centre’s car park was full and we were fairly sure he’d arrive in a people carrier. After all, how should a tour bus be able to manoeuvre its way into the narrow lanes? We kept joking about this until the massive “Beat the Street” bus turned around the corner. Michael Ball superstar had arrived in his double decker tour bus (by the way, if you check out the bus operators website it is well worth to read their list of clients: …. Massive Attack, Metallica, Michael Ball….. It gave us such a laugh, what a line up). He certainly knows how to make an entrance. Even though he was running a bit late and everything was rather rushed because Emma needed to get back to London in time to appear in Hairspray he signed a few programmes and said hello to everyone. Once he was ushered inside we were told that there were enough spaces in the hall for all of us, yay.

From the back of the hall we watched the proceedings. Michael and Emma gave a little speech. Following that Michael ceremoniously cut the ribbon to open the school. Furthermore and to his great joy (he was literally jumping up and down with glee) he was also asked to unveil a commemorative plaque. Subsequently Michael, Callum, Adrian and Andrew took their seats in the front row and the big moment for the kids had come. Ryan was first to sing in front of Michael and not just any old song, but Stars from Les Mis. Kudos to him. It must have been nerve-wrecking. He did incredibly well. What a talented boy. We were then treated to a rendition of Hairspray, from Good Morning Baltimore to Mama I’m A Big Girl Now. That’s how far they had come in just three weeks of training. The kids were between 6 and 18. It was impressive and such fun to hear the tunes again and remember every single line. As an added bonus we could do a bit of dancing seeing we were right at the back of the hall. It was such good fun and the ensemble got a standing ovation. Well deserved. This was followed by a short raffle and a photo opportunity for the kids with Michael.

After one hour everything was over. And we headed into Ipswich to grab some food and get changed in the car. What a glamorous life we do lead.

The Concert:

This must have been our best seats ever! The front row in the Regent consists of six seats, smack bang in the middle of the stage. That’s where we were. Seeing the stage was rather high and the seats rather low you had the impression of Michael standing above you. A bit like in the cinema. Is there such a thing as too close? Nah! It was the closest we would ever get to a private concert. Wonderful stuff.

The show was still two songs short, but The Rose was back in the old key. Mind you, it might have been better, if he’d stuck to the version that was easier on those precious vocal chords, but oh no, he went for every money note. The full monty. It was to die for, but towards the end you could hear a slight raspiness, which while sexy still made us feel a bit guilty for enjoying those massive notes to much. He was on top form otherwise. Clearly enjoying every minute of the concert. Audience reactions were great, but nowhere near Manchester. Still he seemed sufficiently moved at the end.

You may remember how during Love Changes Everything he tells the audience NOT to sing along. Well, naturally in the first chorus he always says he would love to hear us all sing, points the microphone to the audience and they would sing, not this time though. Due to prolonged applause before the song he had to repeat the entry joke and apparently everyone took him seriously, so he pointed the microphone and you could hear a pin drop. This made him laugh and he tried one more time. This time everybody joined in.

Also before Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy he talks about how he loves vocal harmonies and how much he enjoys being part of a company. You could tell he was in a good mood for he continued with “I still prefer standing in the front.” Turns to the gang “Don’t get your hopes up”.

We keep hearing people discussing the sound of the concert. Luckily for us this has never been an issue. When we sat in the circle once the sound was perfectly balanced and on the other occasions we were lucky enough to sit so close to the stage that we could hear them all sing “live” without the need of speakers, which is why we love to be close to the stage (apart from the view obviously). You can actually hear the real voices. Without electronic enhancement.

After the show we saw everyone leave and headed down south through the most gruesome fog you can imagine! Never ever have we experienced anything like that! It was seriously scary, but here we are now. In Brighton, right next to the Brighton Centre. Apparently even with seaview, hooooray.

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..

Newcastle - A night to remember
10/02/09 @ 06:57:35 pm, Categories: General, 882 words   English (US)

After a fabulous concert in Edinburgh we enjoyed a „day off“ or so it felt. We decided to drive down to Newcastle, slowly. Meaning we would not go down via the motorways, but rather take the smaller A and B streets. And it was so much worth it! We discovered some really lovely, pretty little towns and beaches, impressive castles and time generally just flew by until we reached Newcastle. We are happy to report that we did not experience any further scares en route.

In Newcastle we were greeted by fairly wet and grey weather. Nevertheless we had a wander around and took a few pictures, did some minor shopping until we finally made our way to the stage door. There were already a few fans waiting even though it was still early-ish for stagedooring.

We knew our friends would only get there around half past three so we hoped he would not arrive too early. They arrived just after the coach had left to pick him up. He arrived earlier than usual and his first sentence to us was, well it was more of a noise than a sentence. He demonstrated how his voice broke and said he was not a 100 percent. We all must have looked rather shocked for he quickly added “I’ll be fine!”. It was short, but sweet. And he looked gorgeous in that cap. We finally got to say hello to Andrew. Kimberly, we have your stuff. We then went to have dinner with the gang. Fabulous way to kick off a concert evening.

The Concert:

Unfortunately, we thought, we did not have the best tickets. For the first time and last time this tour we were up in the side balcony. The only thing that got us going was the change of perspective, which is a good thing once in a while…. Apparently. But the view was alright. Only the left side of the stage was completely invisible for us.

We knew we were in for a good one. The audience in the north is usually very enthusiastic. So once Michael got on stage there were massive cheers and applause, but hardly anyone got up! It was very strange sight to behold from above.

The first real signs of Michael not being in top form were audible in Human and they had actually changed the key of The Rose to make it easier for him to sing. Having said that, he did not spare himself the money notes. Oh no Sir! They were there! They had just taken the edge off some of the songs. And there we were sitting, silently willing him on, because we know he will be so unsatisfied with himself eventhough most of the audience probably did not notice a thing. This show is full of money notes and show stoppers. As he said himself: It’s a killer. And there came a point, where we actually thought it would have been better for him not to go on stage. We stress again, that this was not because he did not sound great, he did! It was just this anxiety whether or not the voice will hold on. Apart from that though he seemed chuffed with the reactions he was getting and the audience was loving every second of it.

Best fun was watching the ushers. In the beginning of the concert they were leaning on the wall with their backs to the stage. By the time we got to Human they had moved further down the aisle, so they could actually watch the show.

From where we were sitting we could see that when Michael leaves the stage for the Jesus Christ medley, the two people who are responsible for opening the back curtains for him apparently had missed their queue for he actually started doing it himself, before they got into action.

This change of perspective thing really worked out. For the first time we could properly see how during the Starlight Express medley Michael is actually mouthing each and every line of the others.

Generally he seemed much fitter in the second half. Whatever they gave him in the interval, it must have worked. He seemed relaxed and joked around with the audience. For his sake we hoped he’d cut The Prayer with its massive money notes. But he did not. Instead Mack the Knife and Winner takes it all had been taken from the song list.

During the first half of the show we were certain Manchester was not going to happen. Or rather in a fit of uncharacteristic selflessness we actually thought he’d rather rest his voice than do another show the next day. But that all changed during the second half. He seemed so much more confident and sounded fantastic, so we are back at being greedy and selfish and hope the concert tomorrow will go ahead as planned.

We had a fantastic night. It’s concerts like these that you will remember for a very long time. True showmanship and professionalism and boy that man can sing! He got a complete standing ovation at the end. Well deserved. Fantastic audience. We look forward to coming back to Newcastle for the next tour. Roll on Manchester (back in the stalls then, YAY!).

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.


On the road with Michael Ball.
October 2009
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