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Ipswich - Up, Close and Personal
10/05/09 @ 08:38:55 pm, Categories: General, 1237 words   English (US)

Travel:

After Manchester we headed into the direction of Ipswich, but because of some nice hotel offers we ended up spending the night in Kettering. Actually it was a rather lovely hotel …. or so we thought until it was time to take a shower in the morning. There was one bunny watching daytime television, while the second bunny was taking a shower. Or should we say, tried to take a shower. The only trouble was: You could decide, if you wanted to get cooked or if you wanted to freeze to death. There really was nothing in between. Funnily you could get the tab for the bathtub more or less creating a bearable temperature, cold, but bearable. As soon as you switched the water to shower it would be cooking hot or ice cube cold. Dignified as we are we ended up kneeling in the bathtub, trying to wash our hair and everything else that needs washing. It was one of the … most….. undignified things we ever did. LOL, we should have re-enacted it fully dressed and then filmed it for posterity, but we did not.

It’s a minor miracle we made it out of the hotel in time. Unbelievable, but this kind of non-shower took us much longer than any shower ever had. By noon we were on the road again. Grey skies all around, but what the heck. The weather forecast told us about sunshine in the afternoon and we believed them. We were still rather positive, when we got into the Ipswich region. When we reached Kesgrave though our hope started to fade as light drizzle became fully fledged rain within minutes.

What did we do in Kesgrave? About a year ago Emma Dodd started a school for performing arts and today it would finally be opened with Michael as special guest. For those who cannot remember, Emma was a castmate of Michael’s in Hairspray. She had asked the fan club to spread the word and many fans had gathered to give him a good reception.

We knew he’d arrive at 3pm. By that time the community centre’s car park was full and we were fairly sure he’d arrive in a people carrier. After all, how should a tour bus be able to manoeuvre its way into the narrow lanes? We kept joking about this until the massive “Beat the Street” bus turned around the corner. Michael Ball superstar had arrived in his double decker tour bus (by the way, if you check out the bus operators website it is well worth to read their list of clients: …. Massive Attack, Metallica, Michael Ball….. It gave us such a laugh, what a line up). He certainly knows how to make an entrance. Even though he was running a bit late and everything was rather rushed because Emma needed to get back to London in time to appear in Hairspray he signed a few programmes and said hello to everyone. Once he was ushered inside we were told that there were enough spaces in the hall for all of us, yay.

From the back of the hall we watched the proceedings. Michael and Emma gave a little speech. Following that Michael ceremoniously cut the ribbon to open the school. Furthermore and to his great joy (he was literally jumping up and down with glee) he was also asked to unveil a commemorative plaque. Subsequently Michael, Callum, Adrian and Andrew took their seats in the front row and the big moment for the kids had come. Ryan was first to sing in front of Michael and not just any old song, but Stars from Les Mis. Kudos to him. It must have been nerve-wrecking. He did incredibly well. What a talented boy. We were then treated to a rendition of Hairspray, from Good Morning Baltimore to Mama I’m A Big Girl Now. That’s how far they had come in just three weeks of training. The kids were between 6 and 18. It was impressive and such fun to hear the tunes again and remember every single line. As an added bonus we could do a bit of dancing seeing we were right at the back of the hall. It was such good fun and the ensemble got a standing ovation. Well deserved. This was followed by a short raffle and a photo opportunity for the kids with Michael.

After one hour everything was over. And we headed into Ipswich to grab some food and get changed in the car. What a glamorous life we do lead.

The Concert:

This must have been our best seats ever! The front row in the Regent consists of six seats, smack bang in the middle of the stage. That’s where we were. Seeing the stage was rather high and the seats rather low you had the impression of Michael standing above you. A bit like in the cinema. Is there such a thing as too close? Nah! It was the closest we would ever get to a private concert. Wonderful stuff.

The show was still two songs short, but The Rose was back in the old key. Mind you, it might have been better, if he’d stuck to the version that was easier on those precious vocal chords, but oh no, he went for every money note. The full monty. It was to die for, but towards the end you could hear a slight raspiness, which while sexy still made us feel a bit guilty for enjoying those massive notes to much. He was on top form otherwise. Clearly enjoying every minute of the concert. Audience reactions were great, but nowhere near Manchester. Still he seemed sufficiently moved at the end.

You may remember how during Love Changes Everything he tells the audience NOT to sing along. Well, naturally in the first chorus he always says he would love to hear us all sing, points the microphone to the audience and they would sing, not this time though. Due to prolonged applause before the song he had to repeat the entry joke and apparently everyone took him seriously, so he pointed the microphone and you could hear a pin drop. This made him laugh and he tried one more time. This time everybody joined in.

Also before Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy he talks about how he loves vocal harmonies and how much he enjoys being part of a company. You could tell he was in a good mood for he continued with “I still prefer standing in the front.” Turns to the gang “Don’t get your hopes up”.

We keep hearing people discussing the sound of the concert. Luckily for us this has never been an issue. When we sat in the circle once the sound was perfectly balanced and on the other occasions we were lucky enough to sit so close to the stage that we could hear them all sing “live” without the need of speakers, which is why we love to be close to the stage (apart from the view obviously). You can actually hear the real voices. Without electronic enhancement.

After the show we saw everyone leave and headed down south through the most gruesome fog you can imagine! Never ever have we experienced anything like that! It was seriously scary, but here we are now. In Brighton, right next to the Brighton Centre. Apparently even with seaview, hooooray.

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On the road with Michael Ball.
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