HIGH COMMISSION, CANADA HOUSE, LONDON
time I ever saw Hayley live was at the Amnesty International
Concert in Trafalgar Square on 6th December last year. I feel
I have now not only come of age because this was the eighteenth
occasion that I had seen her, but also come full circle because
Canada House just happens to be in Trafalgar Square.
the course of the evening, we were told that this event had
been Hayley’s idea. It was held in aid of the UNICEF campaign
“Strong Women for Strong Women” which deals with the issues
of gender equality (or inequality) faced by girls and women
in developing countries.
joint hosts of the event were His Excellency the High Commissioner
for New Zealand and H.E. the Deputy High Commissioner for Canada.
The concert was also attended by the H.E. the Ambassador for
met Keith near Canada House and we spoke about our wonderful
memories of Hayley’s Winter Tour which had ended the previous
night in Manchester. At 7 o’clock, we entered through the impressive
doorway. Our names were checked against the guest list and we
aimed straight for the waiter holding a tray full of glasses
we made our way to the reception room where guests were gathering.
It wasn’t long before my champagne glass was replaced by one
containing the best red wine I have ever tasted – it was from
New Zealand! We were regularly approached by a waitress who
seemed to think we needed feeding but there is not a lot of
nourishment in a canapé so it became necessary for the
said waitress to return on numerous occasions!
from the VIPs previously named, the concert was also attended
by the Chief Executive of Decca and the Chief Executive of Universal
UK (who own Decca) and certain other names which shall be revealed
in due course.
7.45, we were invited to take our seats in the Green Room where
the concert was to be held. By now we had been joined by Paul
Stillwell who I had originally met at Hayley’s concert in Northampton
in March and at the same venue again last week. Last night,
the three of us sat together in the fifth row.
room, by concert standards was very small, only holding a maximum
of 110 people and the stage was almost filled by the grand piano.
But this was no ordinary concert. This was a particularly intimate
event which I felt very honoured to be able to attend.
some short speeches, one of which was made by Steve, the programme
commenced. Hayley walked onto the stage and, to the accompaniment
of the piano played by Martin Neary, she sang “Pokarekare Ana”,
“River Of Dreams” and Schubert’s “Ave Maria”. The contrast between
these versions with only minimal accompaniment and the versions
we had heard the previous night with keyboards, guitars, strings
and percussion was enormous. I cannot say which versions I prefer
– they are equally delightful but this much rarer arrangement
and setting made a very pleasant change.
piano was played fairly softly throughout which meant that Hayley’s
voice could be heard at its best. She always sounds wonderful
but last night it seemed more warm and beautiful than ever.
was followed by Martin Neary’s piano solo – a rendition of “Clair
de Lune” by Debussy. Then came an unexpected addition to the
programme as Hayley introduced her guest from the recent tour,
the Greek tenor, Mario Frangoulis. He sang two songs to great
effect and filled the room with his magnificent vocals.
were then treated to a short performance by a singer of Bermudan/Canadian
origin, Heather Nova. Most of her material was performed to
piano accompaniment but she played guitar for two of them.
the short interval, Hayley commenced the second half. As some
of you will know, there is a board on the HWI Forum where one
may suggest songs they would like Hayley to perform. I have
never made such a suggestion but I once thought of a song that
I believed would suit Hayley very well. It was an old Joni Mitchell
number called “Both Sides Now”. Imagine my surprise when she
began to sing it! This song was performed to the accompaniment
of a guitar played by Giles Martin who, of course, produced
Pure. The sound was absolutely enchanting.
came what must have been a re-enactment of part of Hayley’s
programme when she appeared on two occasions in Joe’s Pub in
New York. She walked over to the piano and played one note before
returning to the centre of the stage. She then sang “Amazing
Grace” entirely unaccompanied. Many people have said they would
like to hear Hayley sing a complete song a-capella. Now I know
why. It was exquisite.
the pianist had returned to the piano (and his arrival was a
little late causing the programme to be performed a little out
of sequence!), Hayley sang “Beat Of Your Heart” which I noticed
the pianist was playing from the Pure songbook!
then gave us another two songs before Martin Neary performed
another piano solo.
returned to sing “Wiegenlied”, the enchanting theme from a forthcoming
Japanese movie called “Lorelei”. She had sung this throughout
the main tour and it was certainly worth hearing again for it
is truly delightful.
was followed by “In Trutina” which I felt worked particularly
well in such a small room with only piano accompaniment.
too soon, we had reached the finale. Hayley, Mario and Heather
stood in line and, as I had hoped, performed the incredible
arrangement of “Hine e Hine” that we had heard during her tour.
Even without the benefit of the orchestra, it sounded sensational.
so the final song had been sung but the evening was not over
yet. Steve had said to us the previous evening that there was
to be a bit of a soirée afterwards so we should “stick
around”. And so around we duly stuck. I passed the time by partaking
of another glass of red wine, sampling a few more canapés
and wondering why they couldn’t have provided fish and chips!
Never mind. It was all very nice.
Paul and I had quite a long conversation with Hayley which culminated
in us wishing her well for all she does until we see her again.
Mmm? Oh, all right. It culminated in a hug and a kiss!
Paul and I were soon standing outside the door of Canada House
saying goodbye to one another and the last we saw of Mario was
when he was standing in the middle of the road carrying his
suit and shirt that he had worn during the concert in one hand
and trying to hail a taxi with the other!
parting words to Hayley were, “If I could have my way, you’d
be back in the UK next week. But you come when you’re ready.
We’ll wait for you.”
a night! What a tour! What a long way home! Oh well, it was