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The Pure (UK) Tour Review
Gallery 26 (Review) - The PURE Tour 2004 - covering 20th March to 1st April


Long had I waited for this. On the previous three occasions that I had seen Hayley, she had only been a guest performer. Now, at last, we would see her headlining her own concert. Of the eight concerts scheduled for the UK leg of the tour, I had booked to go to five; the first of them at Northampton, I then picked the tour up again in Cardiff and saw it through to its conclusion in Bournemouth.

The start of the Northampton concert was delayed by about fifteen minutes due, apparently, to an earlier traffic problem on the M1 caused by a lorry overturning in the crosswinds. Whether any of the performers were delayed or just members of the audience was never determined. All I know is that I was in the tailback for over an hour! So it was about 7:45 when Hayley took the stage….


Pokarekare Ana

This was the perfect opening song as it is so familiar to everyone and is now recognised as "Hayley's song". She looked and sounded wonderful but, in Northampton, perhaps slightly less confident than usual. She told me later that she had a new band for the UK leg of the tour and, no matter how good they might be, it is understandably a cause for concern. There was no need for her to be anxious though because they were magnificent throughout every concert.

This was a different arrangement of Pokarekare Ana to the one on the CD; similar to that in the video (which is available on this website). The middle section initially comprising Hayley's delicate "ooh-aah, ah-ah-aah", giving way to a short but peaceful guitar instrumental before the commencement of the final verse. The applause at the end of the song must have assured Hayley that everything was fine. She said "hello" and immediately gave that delightful little giggle of hers and I knew that she would be all right. Indeed, she looked more relaxed from that point on. Interestingly, there was a spontaneous round of applause in Eastbourne in recognition of this song as soon as Hayley had sung just three or four notes. Perhaps this indicated a particularly receptive audience. The Eastbourne concert certainly stands out in my mind as being the best. They were all wonderful but here it looked and sounded totally polished and it was perhaps the nicest venue of all.

River Of Dreams
This was one of my early favourites when I first heard the CD, possibly because I have always loved this movement from Vivaldi's "Four Seasons". Hayley's rendition, as always, was truly beautiful.

Beat Of Your Heart
Having been treated to a Maori song, then a classical piece, it seemed perfect to end this first set with a pop song, demonstrating so early on that Hayley's musical styles are boundless. Being slightly more up-tempo than the previous songs, it contrasted well with them. This was a truly delightful start of what surely promised to be a beautiful and memorable concert.

I had only heard Katherine on two previous radio broadcasts, each time singing the same song. Although I liked her voice, I needed to sample more of her material before deciding whether or not to buy her forthcoming album. It didn't take long to persuade me.

Katherine's first set commenced with a wonderful rendition of "Bailero". From, "Songs of the Auvergne", collected by the French composer Joseph Canteloube, the song tells of a shepherd living across the river. The song and Katherine's delivery were delightful.

Lascia Ch'io Pianga
This is a well-known piece by Handel. The gentle melody flowed beautifully and, like the rest of Katherine's material, fitted in well along side anything that Hayley would be performing.

The Ash Grove
This is the one that did it for me. Until recently, I had considered my musical tastes to favour the folk genre slightly over classical. This traditional Welsh song was just lovely. Translated into English, the lyric (which, as with most folk songs can vary considerably) begins something like, "Down yonder green valley where streamlets meander, When twilight is fading I pensively rove. Or at the bright noontide in solitude wander, Amid the dark shades of the lonely Ash Grove."

Although I didn't know it at the time, we were seconds away from one of the truly magical moments of the entire tour. As Katherine left the stage, Hayley returned and made the following announcement:

"For the next song, I would like to introduce my gorgeous sister, Sophie."

I literally gasped out loud. I knew that Sophie and Isaac had appeared with Hayley throughout her tour of New Zealand, Australia and Japan, but it had been announced that they would not be coming to the UK. This had come as a huge disappointment to me as I knew them to be wonderful singers in their own right and, indeed, had heard Sophie on Hayley's CD "My Gift To You". One of my greatest wishes had been to see Hayley and Sophie performing together. What we hadn't been told is that there had been a last-minute change of plan so, for a split second I thought I must have misheard. Then suddenly, there was Sophie walking onto the stage to take her place beside her (dare I say it) equally gorgeous sister.

Panis Angelicus

This has to be one of the highlights of the evening, of the tour and, frankly, the most beautiful thing I have ever heard. Whenever I saw Sophie on stage, and when I heard her sing, it was like seeing and hearing another Hayley and, believe me, there can be no greater compliment than that. Whoever chose this song for them to sing deserves a medal. It was truly angelic and absolutely out of this world. Two voices heard as one then, in the last verse, Sophie's counter-melody to Hayley's lead was just blissful. They really should record this for it is too good to be heard only by those who were privileged enough to witness it on the night and for it then to be lost forever. (I have mentioned it to the family!) As the tour went on, the applause for this piece seemed to get louder and louder and, at times became rapturous.

Sophie told me after one of the concerts that she would like to be a singer. There is no need to wish, Sophie, you are a singer and a truly great one. And Hayley was right in her introduction - Sophie is gorgeous.

Dark Waltz

Now for another song from Pure which I have to admit, on all five occasions tended to drift over me almost unnoticed. This is no reflection on the song; I was still floating on air because of what had preceded it. Nevertheless, what I did hear of it was delightful.

At this point, Hayley explained that a friend of hers from New Zealand and who had appeared with her there, just happened to be in the UK. She introduced Brandon Pou to sing the next song with her.

All I Ask Of You

This lovely song from "Phantom of the Opera" sounded wonderful and the richness of Brandon's tenor voice complimented the purity of Hayley's perfectly - well done the sound engineers! By now I was really immersed in this gorgeous, gorgeous concert and was stunned by the realisation that this was the last song of the first half. Surely, it had hardly begun. That is not to say that we were given short measure, it merely indicates how much I was enjoying it.

I will use this intermission to tell of one or two general points about the concert:

Throughout the concert (except those parts which featured Katherine), moving images were projected onto a large screen high up behind Hayley. I found the close-up film of drifting clouds accompanying Pokarekare Ana quite delightful and I liked the images of the silvery moon gliding across the screen during Who Painted the Moon Black. However, I would not have chosen to use them throughout the concert. Apart from those two sequences, I found I was, at best, oblivious to them and, at worst, distracted by them. I only wanted to see Hayley and it was on her that my eyes were focused.

At one of the venues, clouds of dry ice surrounded Hayley during a couple of the songs. Now we all know that Hayley is beautiful. Somehow, amid the gently swirling mist, she looked even lovelier - even more like the angel that she is.

The sixteen-strong boys' choir, Libera, appeared at the concerts in London and Eastbourne. They opened the show with four songs which were magnificently performed. Unfortunately, I was prevented from really enjoying them in London as much as I should because I was concerned as to what might be cut from the remainder of the concert to make way for them. Fortunately, it turned out to be only one item but what a tragedy it was that anything should be cut. Once I knew we were not going to miss much as a result of their appearance, I enjoyed them far more in Eastbourne.

In London, Libera were followed by a display of Maori warriors doing, well, what Maori warriors do, I suppose! There were six of them, one of whom looked vaguely familiar. Could it have been Brandon Pou? I never discovered but it was noticeable that, during the finale, their number was reduced to five. Brandon, of course, was already on stage. I wonder.

The backing musicians comprised the traditional line up of a string quartet, two violins, viola and cello, plus guitar, bass, keyboards and percussion. They certainly provided a splendid backing for Hayley and the fact that the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra who accompany her on the CD were not present was not apparent.

[Contd - See Part 2 - Link below]

Roger Mansbridge


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