as the orchestra took their seats for the sixth concert of the
tour, I noticed that Fiona was missing. Other members were “promoted”
and sat in different positions to normal. I couldn’t see from
my position but apparently Ian, who plays drums, was also missing
so two “reserves” were brought in to make up the numbers.
discovered that Fiona and Ian are also touring with Aled Jones
and this was the one night when his concert coincided with Hayley’s.
Never mind, I was assured that they would be back with us in
Manchester so I would see them again there.
only came to the Southend concert would not have been aware
of this change but, now that the programme was so familiar to
me, I felt there would be something missing, especially at the
beginning of the second half when Fiona usually performs her
amazing solo set. On this occasion, we were treated to two short
orchestral pieces which were an ideal way to prepare the audience
for what we all came to see in the first place – Hayley.
pick up where we left off in Northampton, I feel compelled to
relate a couple of delightful moments earlier in the concert
thanks to Mario. He had just introduced his next song. The orchestra
were poised and the conductor was about to start them off. Mario
unexpectedly made a further comment. The orchestra all laughed
(as we all did) and Ben almost dropped his baton! Mario looked
at them in astonishment and then, as though to give them time
to settle, asked for a round of applause for the orchestra.
When that died down, he turned to them all and asked, “Are you
ready now?” before the programme continued!
member of the band was playing an instrument that looked like
an electric guitar and keyboard hybrid. This was used to give
a brief instrumental in between verses. Mario, in mid-song,
did a double take in the direction of the said instrument having
apparently never seen it before, strode purposefully towards
its owner and stared at him as if to ask, “What the hell is
that?” before continuing as though nothing had happened!
are not only a magnificent singer but a world class entertainer
and I am honoured to have met you. Right. On with the show.
final set commenced with “The Bridal Ballad” from the film “The
Merchant Of Venice”. This is utterly beautiful and is an ideal
song for Hayley to demonstrate her incredible voice control.
The song contains vocal passages, which defy description and
belief – just wait until you hear it and you will know what
I mean. Where can you hear it? Why of course, it’s on the re-released
version of Pure and, as Hayley said each night, “You can buy
it in the foyer” (then, looking slightly embarrassed, added)
“if you like” [giggle!].
with the incredible “Across The Universe Of Time” which has
long been one of my favourites. Even without the familiar but
captivating vocal harmony (which had been so admirably supplied
by Sophie during the Pure tour), it sounded beautiful. Hayley’s
voice is so exquisite that I didn’t even notice that the harmony
announced that her final song (we didn’t believe a word of it!)
would be one of her personal favourites. She had been singing
it since she was very young. No wonder she’s so good if she
spends that long at rehearsals! Anyway, we were then treated
to her amazing rendition of Schubert’s ever-lovely “Ave Maria”.
Gorgeous. Hayley acknowledged her applause and left the stage….
for long! Moments later, she returned to perform her first encore
but I will describe that in my review of the Manchester concert.
It will be sensational – the concert; not the review!
24th November 2004
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