Cardiff (29 April) Portsmouth (2 May) – Southampton (3 May)
First of all sorry for the delay in writing the blogs for the last three concerts, but somehow we did not have the time to sit down apart from doing the photos.
So, let us transport you back to Cardiff last Wednesday. We arrived early checked in and decided to look for some coffee place to have late breakfast and write the blog. The first place was too busy for us, so we walked on and found a lovely Costa. Julia secured a fab table at the corner with views all over the pedestrian zone, while Kerstin got everything else. Just back at the table some lovely Costa Barrista came over to tell us they accidentally dropped one of the rolls, but will do it again and asked if we’d like to have something in the meantime. That was nice, but I declined. Four minutes later he arrived back with the freshly heated all new roll and a little note telling me I had a free drink on them for their mishap. Great customer service.
Little did we know our day would soon take a turn for the even better. Those who follow us on Facebook will already know, for those who don’t…. We were sitting there, setting the laptop up, when Julia suddenly spotted a certain person walking down the street towards us. Yup, Mr. Michael Ball was strolling through Cardiff. We sat there, stared and could not believe it. Somehow these things never happened to us. Due to our prime seat, we could watch him for quite some time and no, we did not run after him. Although we later on entertained the thought of either dashing out and leaving all our valuables at the table or grabbing everything like mad, dashing out, two bags, laptops and ideally heated bread rolls in head to greet him, wheezing (us not him). No, we looked and enjoyed our lovely view as long as we could. We would never dare to follow him, approach him just like that or even take a photo from inside. Especially the last one is so not on!
When the stage door time came, we walked over to the stage ramp as we call it. Usually Michael drives just past in his bus and waves and that’s it. This time however, we knew through seeing him that he was already in town and would there be any point in him being driven to the venue by bus? Maybe not. Long discussions among us and finally it was decided to walk to the front door and hope for the best.
Our large group was miraculously rewarded. Just five minutes after arriving there, we saw Mr. Ball once again walking down the street, see photos on our website. We were a bit shocked and amazed to hear that at Bristol some lady flashed him during party time and we are not talking about photos here. We can safely say it was none of us. LOL
The audience was great. Uncle Tom was in the audience as well. Michael mentioned that he had very fond memories of the St. Davids Hall as he performed two of his first four concerts there. He started with Swansea, then two in Cardiff and another one in a place we did not understand.
We are not sure, if we mentioned in the past blogs that Michael registered under the name of Frances Spencer, when he applied for the open audition of Phantom of the Opera during his Michael Crawford story.
The audience was great, but at least where we were sitting not as lively as we would have hoped for Cardiff.
Two Days without Michael
Instead of driving on to Plymouth the next day, we decided early on to leave this show and drive to London instead for two days. We always wanted to see Imelda in Gypsy, since we first heard she was doing it in Chichester. It was tough, when we checked the available seats for Michael’s concert and then we saw fourth row, dead centre in the stalls on the aisle was available. We proudly announce that our conviction wavered, but we remained strong.
Before that we planned to see Miss Saigon in the afternoon. Due to several traffic jams on the M4 and of course slow going traffic in London we arrived closer to performance time than hoped, but we made it. We were quite saddened by the whole story, which was really tough and just so glad we had Gypsy in the evening to look out for. Honestly, this poor woman and all these horrid men. Amazing talent on stage though! But the poor chap who was the romantic lead….well, he didn’t know it, of course, but for us he was singing a duet with Mr Michael Ball as we had only the night before heard himself sing “Last Night of the World” in perfection and let’s put it this way: BOY did we look forward to hearing Michael sing it again!
That show was amazing and we have to admit we were quite surprised to know most of the tunes, although we had never seen the show or heard a cast recording. Needless to say, we were equally surprised to hear “I’m a pretty girl Mama”. A phrase that was also used in the finale of Hairspray. So we finally understood the nod to Gypsy. To do some celebrity spotting, we shared the audience with Jimmy Carr (British comedian and TV presenter), who was seated in the box. Imelda was breathtakingly fabulous.
Our London trip ended with Ruthie Henshall in Billy Elliott. Another fabulous show we certainly have not seen for the last time. When we went there early to collect our tickets we received a paper explaining that all theatres had to do an emergency evacuation exercise. This meant, we were asked to remain on our seats after the show. The cloakroom would be closed and the toilets would be closed afterwards. So, just when the curtain call finished, the manager entered the stage, mentioned that piece of paper and then said they had to terminate the performance and we should quietly, but quickly move out of the building and follow the instructions of the staff.
Saturday – Portsmouth
After we got up, we heard the news, that the Duchess of Cambridge was in labour. When we were on the road to Portsmouth we finally had the news, that there was a new little, still unnamed princess. Awwww.
Once more we were rather early and as our hotel room was not really THAT inviting (aka rather small going on tiny) we decided, we might as well do the stupid thing and walk to the Guildhall. The security guard told us they would not expect Michael before 4pm. As you can imagine we stayed and only half an hour later the tour bus drove around the corner and reversed though gates, which are merely wide enough to let the bus pass without damage. Luckily we don’t have to get that huge vehicle through that gap.
One side of the gate closed again, but Michael was nice enough – as always – to walk back to us. What followed then was the conveyor belt of photo opportunities. Michael stood at the open gate and fans asked for photos. When they had theirs taken they gave space for the next eager person. This went on for some time. There was no pushing, no shoving and the atmosphere was so lovely. Michael really took his time and everyone who wanted got their photo.
We should add, that it was not raining. It usually does, when we stand at the stage door in Portsmouth. At least it’s one of two places which are strongly connected to the wettest stage door experience in our history.
For the show we had fabulous seats. Third row, dead center, what more can a girl wish for. The reception was amazing, certainly one of the best concerts we had seen on the tour. We were just so sad that after this only one was left. Michael mentioned at the end that his mum was in and we are sure she must have been so proud of him.
When we left the building to wait at the stage door once more it was raining, of course it was. It would not have been Portsmouth without any rain.
For the last concert we did not really feel as if we had to change cities as the drive was so short. This meant we were early in our hotel and could not check in. WE will not go into the whole saga of getting a room, just to let you know we managed to get to the stage door in time.
As it was a bank holiday weekend Sunday and the last night of the tour, we’d expected it to be crowded and it was. Michael arrived early , got out of the coach and made a dash from us all to escape. Hearing the gasps he stopped, laughed and walked over to the waiting fans. Once more he obliged all photograph requests.
When he got closer to us he said “See you all in Sweeney!”. Stunned silence until people tentatively said “Mack and Mabel?”. He gasped, looked horrified and said “Oh God and that’s how tired I am. Didn’t you know I’d do Sweeney again!” We would not mind, but we all bought tickets for something else . This coined a new phrase for us “I’m Sweeney-tired!”
The whole day was tinged with End of tour melancholy as you might imagine. You felt excited for the concert, but sad as everything would be done for one last time. WE will never get used to it, although we know of course, that this is the way things go.
The stage was huge , much bigger, than we remembered. In Bristol for example he hardly had room to move just one foot and here he could move and dance just like he wanted as he had a huge gap between the edge of the stage and the musicians.
Once more Empty Chairs was a show stopper and the applause hardly ceased. He looked a bit teary eyed at this.
The audience was great. Everyone dashed a bit early at the beginning of Roar instead of the middle of the song. We had a great time, partying close to the stage. Imagine our surprise, when all we expected to be left was Love changes everything and suddenly some other sounds started. They did another encore song, in fact he did one of our most favourite songs with “Bad Things”. Adrian later on told us, that this was a very VERY last minute decision, but you really could not tell they hardly had time to rehearse and they even managed to put up an individual video for the back curtain. Quite impressive.
Needless to say, the audience was amazing. More than one person - on and off stage - was in tears by the end of it.
What can we say. Another tour gone. Another day of post-tour blues. Another two-year wait until it all starts again. Yes, we have Mack and Mabel to look forward to (and thank god for that! Otherwise leaving the UK would be unbearable) but a tour is always different. It’s not only the concerts but the travelling, the meeting with friends all over the country, the different venues, the post-concert meet ups. We know he worked incredibly hard to ensure we have an unforgettable time and REALLY earned his rest – but in a very small selfish part of our hearts we wish it could go on forever. Have to win the lottery first though….
Thank you to everyone who made this extra special – you know who you are. See you soon at some windy stage door.Permalink