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.Permalink
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.Permalink
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.Permalink
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!Permalink
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!
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!Permalink
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.Permalink
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.Permalink
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.Permalink