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Newmarket Racecourse
Review by Roger Mansbridge

What could be more peaceful than to stand on the grass on a warm summer’s afternoon chatting with friends? My tranquil mood was occasionally punctuated by a feeling that something special was about to happen. Other than that, all remained calm.

Suddenly, a crescendo of voices surrounded us and the ground beneath my feed shook as fifteen race horses thundered by! Right, that’s set the scene – now down to business…

Following an introductory work by the National Symphony Orchestra, Hayley was introduced. She entered the stage in a primrose yellow dress which gleamed like gold in the sunlight. I was standing just a few feet from the front of the stage with Dave, Steve, Stuart and George. Peter was a little further along the row. Perhaps he didn’t wish to stand too close to a battery of cameras! Hayley, as ever, looked radiant.

We have almost come to expect Hayley to open with ‘Pokarekare Ana’ and this was no exception. To hear this song performed live somehow evokes a feeling of kiwiness!

During her second song, ‘The Water Is Wide’, she clearly spotted me in the audience and delivered half a line or so in my direction. Did I really detect a slightly broader smile than usual on her face for those few seconds or was that just wishful thinking?

Hayley at Newmarket
click to enlarge

Her first set continued with Cacchini’s ‘Ave Maria’, ‘Prayer’ and ‘Amazing Grace’, the latter, as Hayley explained, would be without the bagpipes which had accompanied her in the past!

Hayley left the stage to the orchestra who then played ‘The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba’ and another work which I instantly recognised but to which I cannot put a name.

Considering this was a concert which followed a race meeting, attended predominantly by the racing fraternity, I had wondered how appreciative her audience might be but, from what I could see, everyone was thoroughly enjoying the concert. That is, with the possible exception of one man to my immediate right to whom it had to be explained that it was not Hayley Mills!!!

Hayley returned to the stage in dazzling blue. She commented that she had to change her dress – because she’s a girl!

Her second set commenced with ‘River of Dreams’ and a song which she performed (I believe) for first time in the UK. No, I don’t mean the song was ‘I Believe’ – this was a Hayley concert, not Kathy Kirby! It was ‘Lascia Ch’io Pianga’.

In her introduction to her next song, Hayley was able to sing the praises of her come country of which we know she is extraordinarily proud. The song, of course, was ‘May It Be’.

Hayley then told us that she had admired the next song for many years but had only recently decided to record it. Her rendition of ‘Scarborough Fair’ seemed to be extremely popular amongst the nearby members of the audience. Someone cried out, “Bravo”, which I have been reliably informed, is a word which Hayley would prefer not to be used. However, it did not emanate from any of us so I trust we will be allowed in to future concerts!

This was followed by ‘In Trutina’. In the brief tacit in the middle, someone sitting on the grass just behind me shot the person next to him – or so it sounded. He actually relieved a champagne bottle of its cork! Everyone heard it including Hayley who gave a discrete little giggle before commencing the second verse!

At this point, someone requested that she sang, ‘Who Painted the Moon Black’, and I distinctly heard “Oh please” being added by the audience member! Hayley seemed genuinely apologetic as she explained that she had not rehearsed it with the orchestra.

Instead, Hayley closed with ‘Hine e Hine’ before leaving the stage to significant applause from a relatively small audience (compared to the size of some of the venues she has played).

The applause continued until Hayley appeared once more for a well-deserved encore. And so, with Schubert’s ‘Ave Maria’, we devoured the last precious moments of Hayley’s angelic voice before she left the stage once more.

The HWI hexad (group of six!) lingered for a while, probably too Hayleywowed to do anything else! A few minutes later, somebody (I didn’t see who it was) asked a security guard if Hayley would be available to meet us for a few minutes, together with a small gathering of other hopefuls. To my amazement, he said he would go and get her! “Tell her it’s HWI”, I called, in the hope it might make a difference!

“HWI”, he repeated, having clearly not realised the significance of the first two letters”!

Moments later, he returned with Hayley who, as ever, seemed genuinely pleased to see us. Several people asked her to sign their racing cards (or whatever they’re called) and numerous photographs were taken, especially by the HWI photographic duo, Steve and Stuart.

Hayley had arrived at about eleven o’clock in the morning and had a short rehearsal and sound check shortly afterwards. It seems she had then spent the day enjoying watching the racing. She really did seem to thoroughly enjoy the occasion and had said as much during the concert.

And so, once more, we wished Hayley well, and I conveyed the greetings I had received from people around the world for which she is very grateful, and we all went home. Another exciting adventure was over and the evening closed as it had begun – with an overwhelming feeling of peace, calm and the blissful contentment that only Hayley can bring. I logged into the forum to see if anything had happened in my absence. I scrolled down to the bottom on the Index page and what did I see?

“Welcome to our Newest Member: hayleyw”

And so, my closing word is the same one with which Hayley began her first post to our little forum – “WOW”!


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