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.Permalink
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
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.Permalink
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.
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!
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:
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:
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":
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
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.
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!Permalink
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!Permalink