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Proper Review
09/27/09 @ 02:54:45 am, Categories: Shows, General, 1798 words   English (US)

It’s not even half past 7 and we are back up. Not because we have to but simply because that is how it always is in our UK holidays. We keep waking up at ridiculous hours…probably the excitement of it all.

Anyways, we thought we could use the extra time to do a proper write up of yesterday’s concert.

The suits:
Michael comes on stage in a wonderful three-piece suit (it looks dark, grey or black, difficult to tell with the massive light show going on), white shirt, white tie. Loving it, seriously hot stuff. During the cause of the first act he loses the tie. V nice. When he comes back on stage after the interval he is wearing a longer-than-normal jacket (sorry, no fashionistas, don’t know the proper lingo), dark blue or slight purple (and patterned) shirt and matching tie. We just realised, we disagree on the colour, lol. Love this outfit, so very elegant. Then he changes once more for the build up to the finale and returns in black suit with white shirt and glitzy tie! It was most thrilling to see the posh fabric…it looks so soft…actually it’s rather tight fit at places (all the right places, we should add), so sometimes it is a bit distracting (in a VERY good way).

The boyx:
Whoever chose the outfit: Thank you. Sometimes their suits looked more like body painting, really gorgeous. Tight grey suits with even tighter t-shirts. Sometimes they wore the jackets, sometimes they did not. At the end of the show they changed into black shirts with a silver glitzy motive on the front. Gorgeous.

The girls:
Well, they changed their dresses a couple of times and really looked stunning.

The First Act:
We were treated to an Overture of different songs (You can’t stop the beat, Jesus Christ Superstar, Don’t stop me now). It felt great to be back, but it was a bit weird to have Callum standing on the “wrong” side of the stage and not having any backing vocals. You can tell, we are not very flexible when it comes to our concert setting. But that will surely change. The guest singers finally appeared at the back of the stage and we heard “Please welcome Mr. Michael Ball!” To our delight the front of the stalls got up on their feet and danced for the first two songs (I was made for Loving you medley and One Step out of Time) and we had a great time enjoying our front row view Blackpool will be row H so we had to make the most of it).

This was followed by Human, sung as a solo by Michael. During this number we still had to come to terms with him being so close by (eventho the NIA is a bit of a heartless arena, the stage was fairly close), so will hopefully get a few more things to say about it as the tour progresses. Don’t stop me Now was arranged as a company number and worked really, really well. Just a crying shame the two Louises, Emma, Ben and Adrian are positioned at the back of the stage behind the musicians, meaning we missed some of their hip action. It has to be said though, placing this song at the beginning f of the concert meant we really had to struggle to urge our well-trained bodies to remain put and NOT dash to the stage when the line of the song that usually has been the signal for party time came. Sitting through this number was the most odd sensation. But Mr Ball had several of those moments in store for us.

For Seasons of Love all of them finally joined Michael on the front of the stage. The song being a company number from Rent, Michael explained how he could now stage it as it should be done when he previously only sang it alone. It’s all about harmonies and every member of the 6-piece-ensenble gets their chance to shine. It really is quite some experience. These kids are all so talented. Amazing.

Naturally we had read all the songlists that are around, so we KNEW he’d sing The Rose, a song that means so much to him and his family. We did look forward to it a lot and were indeed grabbed by the heartbreaking sincerity with which he performed it. Quite a killer really. It got us two bunnies really emotional.

Next on the agenda was Michael’s “classic album track” from Sunday Brunch. The first one to be aired in this section (his choice). Supertramp’s If Everyone was Listening. What a song! Couldn’t remember it from the show…but the gentleman behind us was quite pleased with Michael’s choice apparently for he started singing along! Luckily only for a short while (and a serious glance from us). Watch out for this song though. Great stuff.

When the old barstool came out we knew it was time for Empty Chairs. And we know it’s been said before, but he seems to have re-discovered the song…heartbreakingly beautiful and very fresh.

Tell me it’s not True from Blood brothers led us into the finale of the first act. Obviously this worked really well as a company number. Michael then left the stage and the fab five took over to give us a Jesus Christ Medly of sorts, acting out the songs. Very cleverly done and a joy for the ears. When Michael was back on stage we knew what had to come: Gethsemane. Wow. What can we say? Just wow. His voice….the emotion…everything was just perfect. A sublime stage moment. And luckily no one spoilt it by clapping into the dramatic pause towards the end. Phew. The audience was in the know.

What a finale. We were still quite stunned when the lights came back on and everyone had left the stage.

Act 2:

The second act started with some numbers from Starlight Express (Michael explained how this was the only Andrew Lloyd Webber musical he had never sung a song from before. So he thought it was time to change that and he really liked the songs). Michael and Adrian duetted on Only You. A sight to be hold and a joy for the ears (and eyes).

It was a bit weird to have Love Changes Everything in the middle of the concert and not at the end. Michael told us, we might be familiar with the song and if we knew the lyrics and felt the urge to sing along, then “DON’T!” We were actually quite happy to hear that. Then he got a giggle fit, because of the audience laughter and his own cheekiness. Towards the end of the song he actually did invite the audience to sing along (sadly).

As introduction to the next song he spoke about how a very young Michael once attended a concert of his then favourite band back in the 70s. He got a bit excited at the end and dashed to the front of the stage (he smiled at us and said, he has seen that happening since). Anyhow, while he was at the front of the stage he reached out and she back and for a blissful moment Michael and Agnetha were joined. Then we knew he was talking about Abba. Back on the barstool and we finally heard The Winner Takes It All, live for the first time. Definitely one of our big highlights! What a powerful and sad song.

We knew we were in for a lot of fun, when he talked about Vera Lynne, who is at the top of the charts at the moment at 92 years old. That gave him “bloody hope” he said. On a more serious note he talked about the creativity during the war years and how he loved the art of this period., Especially the closed harmony groups. He apologised for the Andrews Sisters and then the sextet formed a wonderful and sparkly rendition of the Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, complete with fantastic choreography.

This led beautifully into the classic Mack The Knife from the Threepenny Opera (Dreigroschenoper in German). Why it took him so long to gather the courage to perform that we don’t know. It was perfect (we promised that we won’t moan that he did not sing it in German).

We knew he was about to leave the stage, when he started to talk about not having explored song writing enough, but that it was thrilling for a writer to hear his work interpreted by other artists. Naturely this song means a lot to him and they mustn’t get it wrong, no pressure! He left the stage and let Adrian and Ben sing a sweet rendition of the song.

Emma Williams had her chance to shine in The Prayer with Michael. And he is right. She has grown up nicely. The two voices do blend really well.

He started talking about Hairspray, but we knew it was too early for You Can’t Stop The Beat, so it had to be I Know Where I’ve Been. Truly amazing. This song is so full of hope and has such beautiful lyric. We are delighted that it will be on the DVD. Just WOW!

Next came the ultimate treat: Mercy. All six of them looking dashing in their finale frocks and suits. They were all having such fun and the song has so much vibrant energy, it’s wonderful. Stunning arrangement, we had the best time. And it’s absolutely one of our tour favourites.

This led into You Can’t Stop The Beat and a rush to the stage, party time! It was oddly familiar to hear the song and see the routine from the very front. We were half expecting Michael to pop out of a giant Hairspray can, wearing a glamorous red frock. He did not of course. But it was so good to be transported back to the era that was Hairspray and have everyone around you dancing.

Only two songs left and the official end of the concert was Put A Little Love In Your Heart. A joyous number performed beautifully by all of them.

Michael returned after a little while of thunderous applause to treat us to a phenomenal rendition of The Impossible Dream. His first ever audition song… and Yes, he did get the part.

When he left the stage for the last time, we could not believe it was all over. Time went by so quickly, but hey, nine more shows to come. So we will see it all again tonight in Blackpool. Can’t wait!


On the road with Michael Ball.
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