Pure Winter Tour 2004 - Part 7 - Hayley in Manchester

Showdate: Monday, November 22nd 2004_

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Hayley Westenra
Hayley in Cardiff

Part 7



I left my hotel in Southend this morning and took the train to London. I then travelled by underground to Euston Station where I had about half an hour to spare before boarding the train to Manchester.

As I wandered aimlessly around the station to pass the time, I spotted someone in the distance who I thought I recognised. I couldn’t be sure if it was her until I noticed the violin case she was carrying. Yes, it was Fiona! As I approached, she looked up and seemed just as amazed to see me as I was to see her! I told her that we had missed her the previous night and to my astonishment she said, “Yes, so I heard”! Apparently, the enquiry I had made to Ben had been passed on to her! Anyway, we spoke at length about her own CDs (further copies of which I wanted to get for Kirsty), the delights of New Zealand, and how she (and all the orchestra) loves playing for Hayley because, to quote Fiona’s words, “she is special”. Oh yes, Fiona, she is very special.

At this point, Ian (drums) joined us. Although we had not met before, he clearly recognised me. “Oh hello”, he said, shaking my hand. During the ensuing conversation, they told me they had been looking at HWI and that it looked “really good”. Thank you!

I then left them in peace and we all made our respective ways to Manchester.

Before we conclude this incredible tour which has virtually taken over my life for the past two weeks, I will briefly re-cap on some of its highlights (in no particular order)….

The enthusiasm from the orchestra and the obvious way in which every one of them have thoroughly enjoyed the tour, as we all have.

Fiona’s dazzling solo spots. Her skill and her animated style are beyond compare. Her performances were quite electrifying.

Mario’s sensational voice and his highly amusing interplay with members of the orchestra and with the audience. He has undoubtedly gained many fans during this tour.

Ben’s obvious dedication to his work while at the same time, clearly enjoying every moment of it.

Every song that Hayley sang, every word she spoke, all those delightful little waves that she still gives as she leaves the stage, every smile and every giggle.

The time that so many people gave me which made me feel so welcome and which made this whole crazy adventure such a delight. My grateful thanks go especially to Hayley, Mario, Fiona, Ben, Gerald, Steve and Giselle. All your hard work and your friendship throughout this tour is appreciated more than words can say.

So, there I was in the Bridgewater Hall where the final concert of this wonderful tour was about to reach the grand finale. Hayley had left the stage having sung “Ave Maria” to rapturous applause. She soon returned and said, “One more then!” [Giggle]. We then heard the tantalisingly gentle opening notes of that oh so familiar introduction. Someone behind me gasped as if to say, “This is it”. It was. As soon as Hayley had sung the first few notes of “Pokarekare Ana”, the audience applauded in appreciation – not just tonight but every night.

Hayley sang the vocalise version which is one of the most beautiful sounds you will ever hear. It was a stunning performance adored by everyone. I was aware that several people around me were in tears.

Hayley left the stage but the applause would not stop until we had seen her one more time. She returned and began to sing the most gorgeous version of “Hine e Hine” ever sung. During the first verse, her voice was hauntingly beautiful. Then she gazed high into the back of the auditorium, gently swaying to the rhythm of the music in typical Hayley fashion but she did not prepare to sing at the start of the second verse. Instead, we heard the rich vocal tones of a tenor voice hidden in the wings. Seconds later, Mario walked onto the stage in full voice and carried the whole of the second verse. It sounded wonderful and the audience greeted him with tumultuous applause.

During the instrumental break, Hayley and Mario stood facing one another. Here came the exciting key change. From then on, Mario carried the lead vocal while Hayley sang a devastatingly beautiful low harmony. The effect was sensational and, on the first night in Birmingham, it had sent shivers down my spine. Its impact was just as moving every night. The final verse built into a mighty climax by which time the sound was quite triumphant and totally magnificent. Hayley and Mario deservedly received a standing ovation as they had on most nights.

They left the stage to thunderous applause but returned to take their final bows. Unlike during the previous six concerts, Ben and Fiona joined them in Manchester. They linked hands for one last bow. The show was over.

I left the auditorium feeling elated. It had been a magnificent end to a truly brilliant tour. I met up with Keith and we made our way to the Stage Door. Whilst we waited for Hayley, we were fortunate enough to have a final few words with Mario, Fiona and Ben. We all expressed the hope that we might meet up again some day and we parted the best of friends.

And finally, we saw Hayley. While we were thanking her for everything, she was thanking us for our support! This is an on going “argument” which I am sure will never be resolved!

Hayley thanked me for the flowers which I had arranged to be delivered to her at the final venue. With memories of the comment that Kirsty had wanted to call out during the Birmingham concert that I had eventually called out in Llandudno, the message on the card read simply, “You’ll do fine”!

And so the tour ended but my amazing adventure continued. Hayley was appearing at a special concert in aid of UNICEF to be held at the Canadian High Commission in London the very next night! So that’s where I was heading. It’s a hard life but someone’s got to do it!

Roger Mansbridge
24th November 2004

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