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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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