12th November, 2004
TOUR 2004 - Part 1
last the day had arrived. As soon as I had everything packed,
I unpacked it again to make sure I’d got everything! I set off
on a journey which, during the course of the tour, would exceed
2,500 miles – by train! Well, by twenty-seven different trains,
actually, the first of which was cancelled! Nevertheless, I
managed to get the first twelve miles behind me in time to meet
my lovely friend, Kirsty, who would be coming to the first two
concerts with me. We arrived in Birmingham a little later than
planned but in plenty of time for the concert.
Symphony Hall has a capacity of 2330 and I was told that, an
hour before the event, only about 1500 seats had been sold.
It was expected, though, that most of them would be taken up
during that final hour. Sure enough, when the time came, I could
not see an empty seat in the house.
the stroke of 7.30, the lights dimmed and a hush descended around
the auditorium. Seconds later, Hayley appeared from the right
and took up her position centre-stage. All eyes were on her.
She was our reason for being there. Then, gently at first, came
the opening notes of “Amazing Grace”, the first verse of which,
Hayley sang unaccompanied. So often, people have expressed a
wish to hear her sing a capella. Now, at least for one verse,
they got their wish. It was absolutely lovely and I would happily
have listened to that verse being sung over and over again for
the rest of the evening. But Hayley had other ideas! When the
piano came in at the beginning of the second verse, it immediately
became apparent that Hayley had been fractionally off-key. She
immediately compensated for this and carried on as though nothing
had happened like the true professional that she is.
her Pure tour in March, Hayley now had a small orchestra on
stage throughout her performance. This comprised twelve violins
and violas, a cello, timpani, drums, guitar, bass guitar, keyboard
and piano. Oh yes, and the conductor!
string section came in for the final verse of “Amazing Grace”
and brought it to its beautiful conclusion. What a start.
was apparent right from the very first note that Hayley looked
totally comfortable at the commencement of her “new” tour and
in a venue in which she had not previously played. Her confidence
shone through her otherwise naturally beautiful serene image.
the first song ended, she said how pleased she was to be in
Birmingham – a city in which she had not appeared before. She
then introduced the second song, “River Of Dreams”.
was one of the songs from Pure that immediately captivated me.
Although I have seen Hayley perform it live on six previous
occasions (what a good job I keep a record of such things!),
I still find its delightful melody and Hayley’s interpretation,
very moving. By now I was almost in a dreamlike trance as the
beauty of the occasion flowed over me. Could such emotion have
inspired the seemingly appropriate title?
then told us that she was so pleased to have, at last, completed
her exams the previous day which immediately got a round of
applause. She added that the hardest part was still to come
– waiting for the results in February! Kirsty later told me
that she had been sorely tempted to call out “you’ll be fine”
but somehow had managed to refrain from so doing! (That can’t
have been easy for Kirsty!)
will continue my observations in my review of the Cardiff concert
which took place the following evening.
the concert was over, Kirsty and I took up our position at the
end of the queue of people who were waiting to meet Hayley.
It wasn’t long before she appeared and the first few people
obtained an autograph and, perhaps, a photo or two. As the queue
inched slowly forward, I noticed Gerald (Hayley’s father) standing
nearby so I spent about ten minutes chatting with him, largely
about their time in America and the rest of the family who are
currently back home in New Zealand but who will be meeting up
next month when Hayley returns to America. Gerald also said
that Hayley had one concert in Australia towards the end of
December and the family would then be spending a quiet Christmas
at home. I should think so too! Mind you, I can’t see any Christmas
being “quiet” in the Westenra household but I suppose all things
the queue diminished. Throughout the time we had been waiting,
whenever Hayley looked up, I deliberately hid behind the person
in front of me so that she couldn’t see me. This devious little
plan worked a treat because, when Kirsty and I stepped forward,
Hayley saw us for the first time. Her mouth fell open in total
disbelief. She looked alternatively at Kirsty and me several
times in quick succession and then said, “oh wow!” It was as
though she was just as pleased to see us as we were to see her.
signed two or three items for each of us throughout which time
we were chatting away like old friends. During the conversation,
Kirsty told Hayley how tempted she had been to call out “you’ll
be fine” when Hayley had mentioned her exam results.
you should have done!”, Hayley said.
said that, if Hayley wouldn’t mind, she would do so the following
evening in Cardiff! Hayley’s initial reaction was one of amazement.
To confirm that she had understood correctly, she asked if we
were really going to Cardiff. We confirmed that we were. Hayley
seemed genuinely delighted and it was agreed that Kirsty would
call out her “spontaneous” response at the appropriate time.
then gave Hayley a small gift and a card that Kirsty and I had
jointly designed. The gift was a solid glass paperweight with
the image of a ballerina etched inside. Hayley said it made
her feel like dancing again!
so the evening was concluded and, after the almost customary
kiss, we left. Well, for me, that’s one down and six to go!
14th November 2004
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