JustBall.Net on the road blog - Read about our adventures
>>  Julia and Kerstin's trip blog
Oxford - 30/04/2013
30/04/13 @ 07:37:15 pm, Categories: General, 549 words   English (GB)

When you want to get into Oxford you always have to allow for extra travel time. Not once have we gotten into the city centre without standing in a massive traffic jam, but we made it in time and enjoyed chatting to our friends while we waited at the stage door.

Mr. Ball got there running late for his sound check. So the stage door was a rather quick affair. He told us all he was very tired as he had only three hours of sleep in the worst hotel ever (wonder what happened there?!). This must be a tough week for him. Three shows, then the Oliviers, then another three shows. A very taxing schedule indeed.

Due to appallingly slow service at our restaurant we made it to the concert just in time before the lights went out. Oxford New Theatre has an orchestra pitch and so there was a big gap between the front row and the stage. So we thought no kissing during “Wonder of You” then, but that was a vast underestimation of Mr. Ball’s agility as he actually managed to close this gap to touch some fans and then get up again whilst singing. An impressive feat.

The reception in Oxford is always good. For us notably so because this time an elderly gentleman behind us was not only praising Michael after every song to his wife, but actually sang along. So even the husbans present were fans ;-).

There was a scary security guy positioned at the stage and unlike other venues he actually kept people from taking photos after a while. So this is why there are so few tonight. Apologies, but you have to respect the wish of the venue, even though there is no announcement.

Michael actually commented on being tired, which led to the Olivier confession. He almost makes it sound as if he is shy about it and always mentions the revival one way before his own. He sounded superb, so the tiredness did not stretch to the vocal chords.

The sound was much better than in Plymouth, even though we sat really close to the speakers. And the new lower register really does come across nicely in songs like Memory or when he is talking during I Will Always Love You – gives us a physical reaction to be perfectly honest. ;-)

It was lovely seeing Cathy in the audience – and great for us as concerts always tend to be extra special when the family is in.

The stage door at Oxford is notorious for being difficult for fans and ideal for him as the bus will park right in front of it and he can just hop in. He did that and waved at us all and even let someone hand in a programme through the driver’s window so he can sign it. Another lady tried to give him the unauthorized biography book and he refused to sign it as it is not his book. Rounds of spontaneous applause for this – we really think it is wrong that someone would use his name to earn money without asking for his consent beforehand. And off he sped into the night again.

Another amazing concert over. Tomorrow we are off to Bournemouth and the sandy beach. Yay!

Plymouth - 29 April 2013
30/04/13 @ 04:33:13 am, Categories: General, 1160 words   English (UK)

After the Oliviers Helge said he was already knackered after just four days of touring and he did not know how we did it. We then made the big mistake of thinking about the next few days and when we would be having the chance of a lie in - suffice to say…. we still have many days to go until we reach that day!

This is a typical tour day for us: Arriving at the concert town in the early afternoon, check in at the hotel and heave our 23 kilo suitcases to the room (always gains a few confused looks from the staff as we only stay one night but travel with enough luggage to last two weeks obviously), meet everyone at the stage door, ideally see Mr Ball arrive, grab dinner, get changed, attend wonderful concert, leave for the next hotel down the road or (blissful) staying in same town, editing photos for a few hours and taking a shower. Then it is usually 2:30am and we are too tired for blogging. Then the next morning getting up at 8am to repack everything and start anew. Hence our delay in reporting. The Olivier blog was typed in the car en route to Plymouth but then we have to find a place with wifi to upload it all. But we are not complaining – we are on tour and loving it!

Anyway, back to business;-)

Next stop was Plymouth. Luckily we decided to sleep in a Travelodge near Heathrow. At least then we would not have to bother with the London traffic. Still the trip would last something like 3,5 hours. Who decided on Plymouth as the venue just after the Oliviers? Who?? Ah well….. we certainly won’t complain (well, maybe every now and then, but we try to be good – fighting the German nature). The weather was beautiful.

We got to Plymouth around two o’clock, grabbed a snack, made a few purchases, uploaded the blog and got back to the stage door, where a couple of fans had already gathered. The wait was not too long until the well-known tour bus appeared on top of the street. Loving the bus, it looks so glamorous!

As always the coach was parked inside the closed area at the stage door and we were standing right behind the barrier. Michael got out, all smiles and he was basically oozing happiness. You could tell how relieved he must have been to have won that Olivier. Unfortunately he did not bring it, but left it at home in a prime spot. We really would have loved to see it, but it’s understandable he does not take his awards on tour, although why not? Imagine what the cleaning personnel would think when they get in his room and they’d find his Olivier Award on the bedside table…. maybe not.

There is a small gap between the gates and the wall and it did not take long for the first fans to move onto the restricted zone next to the artiste (not restricted because it’s not generally forbidden to stand next to Michael, but because it really is a no go area). You just should not do it and the security staff does not like it.

As you can tell, we then went to upload the stage door pics, had dinner with lovely friends, which resulted in a necessary quick change for Kerstin in the car park, until we finally got to the venue to find our lovely seats just off centre. Weyhey, for the first time we would not see him sideways. HAPPY!!

The sound wasn’t very good but we have often experienced this in Plymouth. Maybe the hall just cannot handle these sorts of speakers. Very sharp s-sounds and it was very loud but we have had much worse. Plymouth crowd is always a bit of an enigma to us. The front is usually rather quiet while the raised back seems all loud and excitable. We did get up for his entrance and luckily were joined by a few people here and there but the majority around us remained seated. You know sometimes it feels like we are travelling with the same bunch of people, experiencing the same concert just at different venues but not so in Plymouth. Sometimes it gets a bit surreal when you think about it. Always a very different crowd here though, probably because it is so far off the centre of the country. It is a long drive after all. We were surrounded by several less than enthusiastic husbands and fathers who looked at us utterly bewildered when we got up for standing ovations LOL Bless them.

Naturally there was a change in the presentation for the Sweeney medley. He no longer talked about being nominated and what face to pull when you lost the award and the camera was still on you but admitted to being a little bit tired for having been at the Oliviers last night (massive cheers) and Sweeney did rather well. More cheering!

It was a great show and he really seemed relaxed and happy. Here comes Love Changes Everything and we waited with bated breath for the dash to the front (we wouldn’t run along as we were ensconced by non-runners and had perfect view anyways). He neared the money note – nothing. He ended the song – nothing. He left the stage – STILL nothing!! We could only see confused faces and fans hovering on the verge of going but no one daring to make the first move. LOL I bet the band wondered what was going on and it must have looked too funny, all this to-ing and fro-ing, the exchanged looks and shrugging shoulders. FINALLY someone did make the first move after what felt like an hour but must have been a minute and only when the music started again to introduce the encore. It was more of a tentative stroll than a mad dash though. This was the threshold though and soon enough more fans followed but only when he came back onto the stage and invited people to party did it get properly crowded down there and the party time was back to normal.

Wow – what a single tweet can do. Just to clarify: it IS okay to run, just wait until the song is finished.

Another wonderful concert and we had inane grins on our faces whenever we thought of those two Olivier statues sitting where they belong. At long last the anxiety was over.

We waved him good bye and then headed off to Paignton (one hour drive) to be closer to Oxford this morning. Okay, so we got to the wrong Premier Inn when we arrived at midnight…there are three of them here apparently. Who’d have thought it? But finally made it and are now picking up Angela en route. Beware Oxford – Mr Ball is coming to get ya!


On the road with Michael Ball.
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