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Glasgow - 25 April 2015
04/26/15 @ 03:59:50 am, Categories: General, 820 words   English (US)

Glasgow – 25 April 2015

We are back in Scotland. During our Highland holiday last year we fell completely in love with this wonderful country, so really looking forward to spend some days here (we will spend the day off in Edinburgh). Beautiful weather at the stage door, just very very cold wind. We passed the waiting time with chatting to friends and thanks to a group effort of almost everyone at the stage door we hope we managed to get a lovely reminder of or first proper tour with little Malia and her fabulous parents Helge and Petra.

The Show

For this concert we had what probably will be the best seats on the tour. Front row, centre block, stage not too high, fan heaven. “Boarding” for the Clyde Auditorium was …. Let’s say a new experience. WE had to queue to get into the stalls and when we finally reached the doors a rather bossy usher barked at us whether we three were together and to turn left and go to the front row. We felt like saluting. Also the musicians and guest singers walked on stage long before the circle was completely seated. This resulted in a very meager applause for them.

Because of the acoustics of the venue it is hard to say anything of the audience reception as we hardly heard a peep from behind us. Again not everyone on their feet. We actually hesitated for a moment, because you are always torn between showing your appreciation and blocking everyone’s view. But then thought: What the heck.

We can’t begin to describe how much we love those seats. Even though there is a bit of a gap between the seat and the stage. The stage itself is not very high and it feels like having your own personal private concert. You also do feel a bit on display. We found ourselves sitting more upright, smiling like loons and only getting or bottle out to drink when it was completely necessary, as you never want to show any signs as if you are not appreciating the show in front of you.

We think that having three concerts in a row is quite a grueling schedule and you could make out that the voice might need a rest. That said the other concert goers would have noticed a thing, because he sounded beautiful. Just here and there was a bit of huskiness, which we quite selfishly enjoy. WE think while it is wonderful for us, who travel along with the tour, for the performers two nights one day off schedule would maybe be a bit more the considerate schedule.

Party-time meant we had to run to the stage because otherwise our view would have been blocked (see afore mentioned gap). We usually don’t like that too much because of all the pushing and shoving involved. Mind you seeing him up close does compensate you for it. Still this occasion it was a very wide stage, huge gap between the monitors, one of them we had reached with some ease, plenty of room for the others and yet we experienced the nastier sides of “fan behavior”. Kerstin found herself to be constantly shoved aside by a very eager young woman, who had reached the stage just a second after us and could have stood there peaceful just next to us, but seemed so freaked out that she could not get her preferred spot for what we assume would be the kiss in “Wonder of You” (which fyi happens at different places on the stage each night), that at one point, when Kerstin refused to be pushed into Julia and Petra, this woman turns and shouts “You f***ing B***h!”. Well that was a first… definitely. Being insulted while what certainly should be the most fun part of the concert, was bizarre. After “the kiss”, when a lucky lady right on the other side of the stage was kissed, the pushing and shoving ceased miraculously. The only cause of action in such a course is of course to turn away and completely ignore this behavior, just was a bit of a shock to see what a bit of alcohol and hormonal frenzy can do to people.

Apart from this incident though it was a great evening – still not York though. We might have a winner for this tour. But we will give Sheffield a chance to convince us otherwise.
Now off to Edinburgh. We already suffer from severe weekday and city disorientation, a typical tour occurrence. After a few cities and venues you lose all sense of what day it is and where the last concert was (we always feel it at its most acute when stamping the photos with the place name and find ourselves at an utter loss). We cannot begin to imagine what it must be like for himself!

Talk to you again after Sheffield! 

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York (23 April 2015) & Newcastle (24 April 2015)
24/04/15 @ 07:22:15 pm, Categories: General, 1047 words   English (UK)

We are back in the UK at last and joined the tour in York. It has been a while since we have last seen this beautiful little town in the north of England (some 15 years probably) and so we were really looking forward to be back. We spend our first evening to walk down memory lane (do you remember, Pat?) and locate the venue and stage door (it has been renovated) and took what must have been the hugest detour ever. But it was a mild night and the excitement for things to come let us almost forget our aching feet…almost.

Stage Door

The next day began with fog and cold weather but was brightened considerably by the arrival of Petra, Helge and baby Malia who would join us for the first three shows. Before we knew it the sun was out and it was hot, hot, hot at the stage door. Summer feeling! We truly were on holiday. It was a sizable crowd but when he arrived he very graciously took a lot of tie so everyone could have a quick chat and a photo/signature etc. Malia met Michael (again after almost a year) and we made the photos to mark this special occasion so were very happy indeed.

The Show

We were reminded again why we love going to concerts up north: the crowd was just amazing. On their feet the second he stepped onto the stage and so very enthusiastic that for once we could not complain (we usually feel there should be LOADS more admiration taking place). Do you know the feeling when a whole room full of strangers reacts as one? It’s dreamy. So much love and whoohoo-ing…not a concert but a love in. Truly. It was great! And he seemed so much more relaxed compared to when we last saw it in London and Birmingham. It almost felt like a different show. And how many Michael Ball concerts have you been to where you hear him singing Sex Pistols songs in the voice of Michael Crawford? Exactly. He really did…but don’t fret, only a few lines and he was talking about not having liked punk music while still rocking the look as a teenager. But he had the entire look: razor blade around the neck (not a very sharp one, mind), ear pierced, bondage trousers complete with safety pins (they chafed), only the curls refused any attempts to be made spiky.

The opening number of the second act is Something Inside So Strong (which we loved and were so happy that he had included it again) and he mentioned that they decided to use this song because it was actually an answer on Pointless (that’s a quiz show in the UK): name one of Michael Ball’s top 40 hits. So Mr Ball is trivia now!

When he walked back on for the encore in the end he said he would do something new: he’d take a selfie whilst on stage with all of us in it as a revenge for these things drive him mad during the concerts (hear, hear!! Mobile phone screens during shows are a pet hate of ours, so inconsiderate). Afterwards he handed the phone to the guest singers and while he was talking to the audience they did a quick selfie, too. It was hilarious.

Something he has always done in the encore but which we like is that after You Can’t Stop the Beat, when the audience goes all crazy he says thank you, smiles and then just gives us a quick Good night, turns on his heel and makes to leave. Outraged cries from the audience will stop him in his tracks and he walks back to the microphone. “Have I forgotten something?” YES! (as everyone is waiting for Love Changes Everything)and then he looks down and checks whether his flies are done up (they always are…), then laughs and says no, of course he has not forgotten it and proceeds to sing the most impressive money note after a mere two hours of simply astounding singing.

Another random observation: there was so much applause after Empty Chairs that they had to stop the show for a moment for people to quiet down again (well deserved, of course). We rarely experienced anything like it.

For us this was the perfect concert. He sounded amazing and was in high spirits, egged on by the waves of admiration and love form the audience. Such joyous two hours. We were floating out afterwards, no other word for it. We love you York. Next tour we will definitely be back!

Newcastle

Compared to the superlative that was York, the Newcastle audience felt a bit…less ecstatic. While he got a good reception during the first song only isolated groups of fans stood. The rest was eagerly clapping along but it is just not the same. Also no reaction whatsoever to the opening notes of Empty Chairs while All I ask of You was greeted with great enthusiasm. We actually never heard an audience not clapping when they recognized Les Miserables. Mind you, afterwards they were as enthusiastic as York. It was a breathtaking rendition, it has to be said.

What was very irritating – apart from the fact that an usher asked us to stop taking photos with our non flash camera, whilst everyone around us happily took photos with their mobile phones and flash and no one bothered to stop them (not even those who were openly filming the show!) – was that a few people around us evidently thought they had come to the “Michael Ball song-a-long”. We really, REALLY only want to hear him sing, thank you very much. It might have helped if they were any good but they were not. And the warbling came from in front AND from behind us. Also during really quite songs. Rude and inconsiderate. This is not your living-room!

He won them in the end though. He always does. For the encore the whole audience was on their feet. It would probably have been a great night had we not experience the utter perfection of York. It will be interesting to see whether Glasgow can beat them…or at least draw level.

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