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Hayley at Canterbury Cathedral

Canterbury - Friday 27th October

Hayley WestenraIntroduction

Sorry I'm a bit (lot!) slow in reporting on this event, my only excuse is that after a 300 mile round trip to Canterbury (arriving home at 2:30 am) and a 150 mile round trip to London on successive days, I am, well, exhausted! When I was a lad, I used to do this all the time but now, it's a bit of a shock to the system!

There are already some very good reports of the evening's activities so I won't list the songs, I'll just mention some of the highlights of the evening for me, then I'll post a couple of photos that I managed to grab right under the nose of the camera police ;) - with a little help from Roger, who helped me to dodge 'er.

Traffic Travails

After realising that the town where Roger lives was directly on the fastest route from my town to Canterbury, it made perfect sense for us to share a car for the second half of my journey but unfortunately, before i reached him, I'd already suffered two major traffic delays and I ended up diverting onto the slower scenic route through the South Downs of Sussex. We were 55 minutes behind schedule and we couldn't afford any more big delays; luckily there were none. Phew!

Camera Police

Luckily the tickets and seats were numbered so our position near the front was quite good - 7 or 8 seats back - and I soon started adjusting my camera settings ready for the concert. But then, I heard a firm voice in my left ear and looked up to see a fearsome looking lady official of the cathedral looking sternly at me and my camera! Are you "publicity" she said. "No" I said honestly (of course!) "but none will be taken while they are performing, no flash will be used - and Hayley's Manager will be happy for photos to be taken for HWI, look, he's over there."

But she wasn't interested. "Not in our Cathedral" she said abruptly. "No photographs whatsoever are permitted in the Cathedral!". Well there was no point in arguing so I accepted the admonishment and sat down to enjoy the concert. However, I still intended to try and get some sneaky shots in between songs, hoping to be un-noticed.. until Roger pointed out that the official in question was now seated directly in line with our row and only half a dozen seats away! So that was that! Maybe...

The Concert - First Half

Well the concert began and it was soon clear that Hayley was in fine form tonight! Her voice sounded as good as I've heard it for a long time (I did have concerns about it showing some signs of strain during the summer) and this bodes well for her new album, for which recording will soon start. Hayley seemed happy and relaxed and in between the songs she was quite chatty, throwing in not a few nice anecdotes as mentioned above in this thread. But Alas! within two or three songs, the front half of the Cathedral sound system failed and we near the front had to rely on speakers much further back - which produced so much echo that it became impossible to discern what Hayley was saying... so we (near the front) could not react to it! This must have been disturbing for Hayley but it was apparent that she did not know about the sound problem. She carried on like the true professional she is and the rest of her first half songs were nevertheless very enjoyable, albeit with much more echo than usual!

Soon after the sound system broke, we had a surprise. On stage strode Alfie Boe! He is a new young British tenor currently being promoted heavily by Classic FM but I'd never really paid that much attention to him. He sang three true operatic arias and his voice came across as powerful and very nice indeed. I was impressed - even through all the echo! He had a very nice relaxed, even humorous stage manner too, this was obvious even though we couldn't tell what he was saying!

Hayley returned to finish the first half, and the sound was stilll faulty so this took the edge of the experience for some of the audience - but you could easily tell that Hayley was in very good form, even through the echo - and it was still enjoyable.

Second Half

Alfie Boe strode on stage and started to speak... and we could understand it! At last, they fixed the sound! Well, he sang two more arias and this time, we could really hear that voice of his - tenor certainly but tending towards the baritone end of the scale, I'd say. And what a voice it is! He has a powerful voice with a very nice tone and excellent delivery. And this time, we could really see that he has a most engaging personality which came across well in his between-songs chat. He's a bit of a comedian as well, though his joking confusion when he discussed a portraits of "The Madonna" with "Madonna" wasn't fully appreciated I think by certain members of this Cathedral audience!

Hayley returned and continued as she'd left off, in fine form, both vocally and in her repartee in between songs. But this time, it was even better because we could hear her clearly and soon, after her nice story about Mists of "Iss-lay" or "Aye-lay", she had a surprise for us... a duet of Ave Maria by Schubert with Alfie Boe. This was very well done and their voices complimented each other nicely.

Roger and Dave 2, Camera Police 1

All too soon, it had to end and I sat quietly enjoying Hayley's 'final' song, Hine e Hine. But I hoped for an encore... and then, I had a plan! Remember the camera police lady sitting directly opposite me? Well indeed, Hayley soon returned, to tumultuous applause, and as we guessed she sang Pokarekare Ana. As her final notes died away, I thought "what the heck!" and out came my camera for a few snatched shots before Hayley had chance to leave the stage. And Alfie walked back on to join her! This is where Roger helped me to dodge 'er! Discreetly leaning forwards as he saw her looking in our direction, he at least partially obscured her view and I got away with it... thanks Roger! I will shortly post a couple of reasonably successful photos that I managed to snatch before Hayley and Alfie finally left the stage.

After that, I'll try to collect my thoughts (and photos!) on what happened after the concert finished but that will have to wait until much later today (Sunday).

Cheers, Dave


source : hwi
credits : review by Dave Ludlow
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