last time I saw Hayley was at Hampton Court Palace on 19th June.
An occasion which was superb and thoroughly enjoyable. A chat
with good friends, as well as with Hayley, Gerald and Steve.
I made sure that I enjoyed that (which where Hayley is concerned
is guaranteed anyway), because I didn’t know when I would see
Hayley again. As it turns out, they announced a Winter Tour
for November. This was a whole FIVE MONTHS without Hayley and
her wonderful voice (well, live that is because I play PURE
at least once every day). That works out to 146 days, or 3,500
hours (etcetera). As soon as the tickets for this tour became
available, I booked for Llandudno. Through Simon, plans were
made for a block booking at Cardiff. And then, much subterfuge
was planned. But, that’s another story.
seemed to drag, each day more like a month. Would it ever pass
and November arrive? Well, yes, obviously it did. I busied myself
with as much work about the house as I could – that helped.
And then, just a few days left to go and much to get done. Suddenly,
I wondered if I had enough time to do everything. Finally, Saturday
13th November arrived and I was off to Cardiff. Boy, was I keyed
up! I had waited so long and, at last, I was going to see Hayley.
The drive down was uneventful. The weather quite pleasant. But
don’t mention Newport to me.
little group gathered for a pre-concert get together, during
which a presentation was made to our wonderful Holly Holyoake.
Just a little something to express our love and support for
her. Then it was time to set out for the theatre. My excitement
was building as I looked forward to the evening and being wafted
to paradise on the wings of Hayley’s glorious voice. We found
our seats and settled down to enjoy what turned out to be the
best concert I had ever seen Hayley perform – and I’ve seen
a few. As Hayley walked on stage, she was greeted by a round
of warm and appreciative applause, and the concert began.
Grace was the first offering and, as we have come to expect
from Hayley, this was better than all the other times I had
seen her sing it. The audience were immediately spellbound.
None more so than me. The rest of the audience just melted away
as I was bathed in the wonderful sound coming to me from the
stage. The only thing that could have made it any better was
for Hayley to be looking directly at me as she sang. But, somehow,
I think she seems to do that for everyone in the audience. It
really is as though she is singing just to you. When you experience
something like that, it is amazing just how quickly the time
goes and the song ends. The audience were entirely under Hayley’s
control immediately. They loved it, and it showed. To start
on such a high note and then get better is another of Hayley’s
amazing abilities. And this is what we got in full measure.
said how pleased she was to be back at St David’s Hall in Cardiff.
That’s when I realised, it was eight months since I had seen
her there last.
was now time for the second song, which was River of Dreams.
If Amazing Grace had not taken over your very being, this song
is guaranteed to do so. As you listen to this song, a river
of pure pleasure washes over you, taking you to ever-greater
heights of enjoyment. And this time, being accompanied by a
small orchestra, takes it to a new level. It was fabulous! No,
it was more than that! It was to a level unique to Hayley –
far beyond the ability of any superlative in the English language
to express. By the end of this song, I was totally gone. Gone
into a world of my own, which knows no bounds. A world in which
I can enjoy Hayley and her music to a level beyond the imagination.
Hayley told us that she was pleased to have finally completed
her GCSE exams. Amazingly, she completed them last Thursday
in London and celebrated by performing in concert in Birmingham
the following day, Friday. She followed that with the Cardiff
concert on the very next day. Wow. What a schedule!
Painted The Moon Black was the next offering. Hayley explained
that the song had been written by a Namibian girl after sitting
watching an eclipse had inspired her. I can well believe it
and, having heard the original by Nianell, I have to say that
Hayley’s cover of it is by far the better. This is a song which,
like Hayley’s incredible ability, always gives you something
new. Something personal. Something unique for every individual.
Oh boy!! This was one great concert. This had to be the pinnacle.
It couldn’t possibly get any better. Could it? Oh yes it could.
And it did.
Hayley introduced her guest artist, Mario Frangoulis. An incredible
tenor from Greece. The moment he sang his first song, “Granada”,
it became obvious that this is a young man of whom many great
things will come to pass. And, he had an incredible rapport
with the audience. In that first few minutes, he had established
himself in the hearts and minds of the audience. Exactly what
the others were, I am not too sure. Other than him singing the
song which became so well known during the televising of the
Athens Olympics earlier this year, “Here’s To The Heroes”, which
he dedicated to the unsung heroes of everyday life. The ordinary
people of this world.
Mario finished his first set of songs, Hayley returned to the
stage and gave us Mary Did You Know. And, she did it again.
It was better than I had ever heard her perform previously.
This girl is beyond amazing. As I have said before, she is the
first I have ever known who can improve on perfection. Next,
it was In Trutina. A truly beautiful song with a gorgeous melody.
Knowing the song well, I was aware of the pause in the middle
but, were the rest of the audience? It turned out they must
have been, because there was not a sound during the pause. For
that I was thankful. If they had started to applaud, it would
have ruined the piece.
we had the interval. A chance to gather our wits, have a drink
and a chat, and prepare for the second half. Out in the foyer,
I noticed a sign which said that Hayley would be in the foyer
after the performance to sign programmes and inserts from the
re-release of Pure (with the bonus CD), which was also on sale.
second half opened with a violin solo for two pieces, given
to us by Fiona Pears, violinist sans comparison. These were
thoroughly enjoyable footstompers in Cardiff but, in Llandudno,
they were taken to a much higher level, especially in the second
piece, when the audience began clapping in time to the music.
The North Wales Theatre was absolutely bouncing. When Fiona
finished the second piece, Hayley returned to the stage and
told us that Fiona was also from Christchurch in New Zealand
and, she had written both those pieces. Here is yet another
performer I believe we are going to hear much more of in the
went straight into Beat Of Your Heart. Once again, all the stops
were pulled out with a most beautiful rendition of this great
song, which is definitely one of my favourites from the album.
This concert tour most certainly has proved to be the finest
stage appearance of Hayley that I have yet seen.
Hayley introduced a song, which was completely new to me, as
I am sure it was to just about everyone in the audience (with
the exception of Roger and Kirsty, who had seen Hayley perform
it the night before in Birmingham). Hayley told us that it was
a German song called Wiegenlied, which was the theme song for
a Japanese film called Lorelei. For the film, she had recorded
it in Japanese but, tonight, she was going to sing it in the
original German. This is an absolutely gorgeous song, which
sounds as though it was written with Hayley in mind. All I can
say about this song is “WOW!” I love it. I do so hope it is
on the new album.
such amazing treats as this, I was pleased to return to something
I was familiar with. Wiegenlied turned out to be a song that
fired my enthusiasm, and I needed a little time to come back
down almost to earth. Hayley’s next song was Never Say Goodbye,
a song that has great appeal to me. Again, it was better than
ever. I was in seventh heaven. Hayley was taking me to a higher
level of sheer enjoyment than anything I had ever experienced.
came back for his last set of the concert. At first, I was thankful
for the respite. But, Mario Frangoulis is a great tenor, who
has the ability of stirring the soul with his wonderful songs
and great personality. So, my respite was incredibly short lived.
Somewhere in that set, we were treated to La Luna Rossa and
Follow Your Heart. Trouble is, I can’t remember which order
they were in. I was enjoying the whole thing so much information
like that just got jumbled up in my mind.
came back to the stage for her final set of the night. I was
already quite breathless by this stage, and completely overcome
with the sheer beauty of the entire concert so far. And then
Hayley delivered the coup de gras. Hayley introduced her next
song. It was the title track to a new Al Pacino film, The Merchant
Of Venice, and it was the Bridal Ballad. If I loved Wiegenlied,
I don’t know quite how to classify this one. It is absolutely
fabulous. Again, Hayley’s voice singing this song is a perfect
pairing and, half way through, her mellifluous melisma was reminiscent
of nothing short of a heavenly host of angels. I resolved there
and then, I will be buying this film when it is released on
DVD, if only for the chance of hearing the song in the context
of the film.
we were treated to Across The Universe Of Time, which was written
by Sarah Class during a recording session. A beautiful song,
from which greater enjoyment can be gained each time you hear
it, and this concert was no exception to that. I knew we were
drawing towards the end of the concert. I desperately wanted
the clock to turn back to the beginning of the evening, so that
we could enjoy the whole thing again. And yet, I hadn’t heard
the rest of what I had come for. Oh, what a war was going on
in my mind.
Maria (Schubert) was the last song of the concert. Hayley delivered
it with such depth and feeling. It was glorious, and deeply
moving. When it ended, Hayley turned and left the stage. I was
on my feet like a shot, but someone else (who shall remain nameless)
beat me to it. Then, our entire group were on their feet, followed
closely by the entire audience, to give Hayley the standing
ovation she richly deserved. Someone shouted out “encore”, which
seemed to spark the audience to increase the volume of their
again, Hayley returned to the stage and had to wait until the
applause subsided before delivering what has become accepted
as her “signature tune”, Pokarekare Ana. As she started to sing
it, another round of very appreciative applause erupted from
the audience. Obviously, there are a great many people in the
UK who now love this song as much as they love Hayley. As Hayley
finished, the audience erupted again. There was no holding them.
They were not prepared to accept that as being the end. Mario
joined Hayley on stage and, between them, they gave us a fabulous
duet of Hine e Hine. What a way to finish a concert. The night
started on a high and just got steadily better all the way through
to the very end. When Hayley and Mario left the stage, the audience
erupted again into what was probably the most enthusiastic round
of applause of the evening. It continued, and Hayley came back
onto the stage, but this time only to take a final bow. It was
over and I was shell-shocked.
the five months that had elapsed since I last saw Hayley, there
had been very noticeable improvements in vocal technique and
stage craft. Clearly, much work had gone in to develop her skills.
And all on top of a gruelling schedule of travel and promotion
in the US, plus being in concert with Andrea Bocelli in both
New Zealand and Australia.
the concert ended, Hayley’s public were waiting for their chance
to meet her. There must have been between two and three hundred
people lined up. As we had met Hayley many times before, we
stood back and left her public to have their chance. During
this time, we chatted with Steve and Gerald and, must not forget,
a lovely young lady called Giselle, who has recently joined
Steve as his assistant in managing Hayley’s career. At this
point, I must say, that Steve and now Giselle are doing the
most amazing job.
the line of people had evaporated and, the only ones left were
our own happy party. Although obviously tired by now, Hayley
was only too pleased to spend time chatting with each of us
and pose for yet more photographs. Eventually, I got to speak
to Hayley and, during the course of conversation, I asked her
if she knew the Bach – Gounod “Ave Maria”, to which she said
yes. I then told her about Holly and her association with the
song and, biting the bullet, I asked if she would consider singing
it in duet with Holly. Others in the group realised that something
was happening and they start to drift towards us. Hayley brought
Holly over next to her, Gerrit frantically dug out his camcorder
and got it ready just in time. Here came, yet again, another
example of how you can be carried to an ever-higher level. The
duet was delivered from cold. No rehearsal, no warm up for Holly
and, both girls had gone through very long and tiring days.
And yet, we were treated to a song, which was delivered to near
perfection. And Gerrit got it all on video.
there was nothing else to do but make my way home. A three and
a half hour drive, during which I was serenaded by Hayley on
my stereo. Plus, the evening’s songs were playing and replaying
in my mind. Thankfully at that time of the night, the roads
are somewhat quiet. I got home at 4:10am, utterly shattered
but never happier. I now had Llandudno to look forward to.
Monday evening, I received an Email from Steve, telling me that
he and Hayley had been talking on Sunday evening, and Hayley
expressed a wish to help Holly if she could. As a result, he
asked me if Holly would be up for coming up to Llandudno on
Wednesday to repeat the performance, a capella to keep it special,
on stage with Hayley during her concert. This resulted in frantic
phone calls and emails going the rounds. So much so that I did
not get finished until 4am. Of course, I emailed Gerrit straight
away to let him know. He had arrived home, in the Netherlands,
only a short while earlier. I spent Tuesday frantically completing
the arrangements I had to make; Gerrit made all the necessary
arrangement to fly back to the UK, so that he could also be
in Llandudno and, of course, Roger was there too. Meanwhile,
Steve Abbott and James Lawrence (who is considering representing
Holly as manager – but that is yet another story) spent much
of the day organising how it was going to be handled, and James
sorted out publicity especially for this event.
thing I have noticed before is the difference between audiences
at different venues. In North Wales, they tend to be much more
animated and, so it was on Wednesday. This gives an even greater
enjoyment factor for everyone. After opening with Amazing Grace,
and receiving a round of rapturous applause, Hayley responded
by saying “Diolch yn Fawr”, which is Welsh for “Thank you very
much”. This brought “ooh’s” and “ah’s” from the audience. To
which Hayley responded “it’s okay, that’s all I know”. This
brought laughter from the audience. The rest of the first half
of the concert went as before. Well, no it didn’t. After Mary
Did You Know, Hayley introduced Holly and, together, they gave
us an emotionally moving version of the Ave Maria. Singing together,
the sound they produced was almost like an entire choir of sopranos.
It was stunning. Absolutely beautiful. A once in a lifetime’s
experience to be present to witness such a thing. And, Gerrit
got the video of that, too.
idea of inviting Holly to appear was Hayley’s and, this just
shows yet again what a beautiful and thoughtful person she really
is. I have never, in all my life, known any other artist extend
such an invitation to new talent. But, Hayley wanted to do it
for Holly. And do it she did. The appearance was reported in
the press in both South and North Wales. All of this sorted
out in a little over twenty-four hours. I could never thank
Hayley enough for making such a wonderful gesture. And, although
I was totally dedicated to supporting Hayley in any way I can,
this sort of thing just makes me all the more determined to
do so. Of course, I am also dedicated to the support of Holly
so, I had an extra special double delight from the Llandudno
a night Saturday was. Wednesday was just so much better. And,
I still have two more trips to see Hayley on this visit to the
UK. I can hardly wait until Monday and my trip to the Bridgewater
Hall in Manchester.
though I still have Manchester and the UNICEF concert in London
to go, I have been thinking of the rigours of the current tour.
Two weeks prior to the tour, Hayley was doing her revision,
working up to and sitting her GCSE exams. Her last exam was
on Thursday 12th November. Friday, she was in concert in Birmingham,
Saturday in Cardiff, Monday in Edinburgh, Wednesday in Llandudno,
Thursday in Northampton, Friday in London for Children In need
(on which she did not appear until nearly 1:45am), Saturday
in Cardiff for the Wales v New Zealand rugby match. Then it
is Sunday in Southend, Monday in Manchester, Tuesday in London
for the UNICEF concert and, finishing on Wednesday with an appearance
on the Des and Mel Show on ITV1. Beside the concerts and appearances,
I make this approximately 2000 miles by road between 13th and
Saturday, 20th November 2004
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