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.Permalink
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!Permalink
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.
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.Permalink
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.Permalink
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 blessedxx”
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.Permalink
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!Permalink
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.Permalink