Pure Winter Tour 2004 - Part 6 - Hayley in Southend

Showdate: Sunday, November 21st 2004_

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Hayley Westenra
Hayley in Cardiff

Part 6



As soon 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.

I later 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.

Anyone who 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.

Before we 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!

Later, a 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!

Mario, you are not only a magnificent singer but a world class entertainer and I am honoured to have met you. Right. On with the show.

Hayley’s 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!].

She continued 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 was missing.

Hayley then 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….

….But not 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!

Roger Mansbridge
24th November 2004

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