With Fiona Pears Violin and Ian Tilley Piano
14th November 2005
I read an article recently
that said that Hayley’s
guitar was back home in New Zealand and that she had borrowed
one whilst in London. I glanced to my left and saw mine looking
somewhat unwanted. I used to be a member of two groups and
have dabbled in songwriting but that was all a long time
ago. I have hardly taken the guitar out of its case for about
five years and believed it would be far more use to Hayley
than it would be to me. Last week, in Liverpool, I asked
her if she would like it. On Saturday, I restrung it and
gave it a good polish! And so it was that, when I set out
for Tewkesbury yesterday, my guitar came with me.
I realised I would
not wish to keep the guitar with me during the concert
due to limited space and so, as soon as Dave and I entered
Tewkesbury Abbey, I handed it over to Steve and asked him
to pass it on to Hayley. I thought that would be the last
I ever saw of it but things turned out differently. First
of all, though, we had a concert to enjoy…..
The abbey was cold
and the wooden seats we not made for comfort! And, to keep
this strictly accurate, I have to mention that there was
a problem with the sound system, or particularly, with
Hayley’s microphone in combination with the acoustics
of the abbey. It was fine all the time she was singing but
the echo when she spoke made it virtually impossible to hear
what she was saying. When Fiona subsequently spoke during
her set, the same thing happened. Thankfully, people mentioned
this during the interval and Hayley was given a second microphone.
From then on, she used one for singing and the other for
speaking….. only she forgot and spoke into the wrong
one several times. She quickly realised and we witnessed
her delightful little giggle as she changed over and began
her speech once more. It’s funny, but those giggles
sounded lovely through either microphone!
The programme followed
a very similar pattern to that of the Liverpool concert
but with one or two of her more poppier numbers replacing
some of the more classical ones. I felt the result was
more typical of Hayley’s repertoire
and her ability to sing either style is one of the reasons
for her immense popularity. It seams there is no such word
as “poppier” but Hayley uses it and, if it’s
good enough for her, I’m not going to argue!
Hayley opened with ‘Pokarekare Ana’ and the
contrast between this arrangement, with just Ian and Fiona
accompanying her, to her performance last week with the Royal
Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra was astonishing. I wouldn’t
like to say which I prefer for they are both truly beautiful.
This, together with Cacchini’s ‘Ave Maria’ and ‘Who
Painted the Moon Black’, demonstrated her vocal dexterity
to the full - a Maori folk song, a classical number and a
poppier(!) song. Everyone was happy.
Fiona then played two
solos, namely ‘Winter Flames’ and ‘Turkish
Fantasie’ both of which appear on her DVD. Her slightly
jazzy style always contrasts well with Hayley’s performance
and her lively interpretation of her self-composed works
was greatly admired by her audience last night.
Hayley returned to
conclude the first half with ‘Bridal
Ballad’, ‘What You Never Know’ and ‘Amazing
Grace’. During the second of these, of course, came
the sequence, “I’m falling for you….”.
I found it particularly moving to hear her singing live the
part that she had written.
During the interval, Dave and I spoke to Jill for some time.
As ever, she was laden with her camera gear but seemed genuinely
pleased to see us.
Fiona opened the second
half with her own arrangement of ‘My
Funny Valentine’ and a Russian folk song, ‘Dark
Eyes’. Truly brilliant. I spoke to Fiona afterwards
and commented how much I had enjoyed watching her DVD. I
hadn’t realised that her part in Hayley’s concert
at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester had been recorded but,
for me, it was so pleasing to see it on the DVD as it serves
as a permanent reminder of such an enjoyable occasion. Ian
was also with us and explained that it was he who had recorded
it on his camcorder!
Hayley returned to
the stage and sang ‘Prayer’ from
Odyssey and then ‘May It Be’ and somehow Hayley’s
voice sounded better than ever. Every captivating note was
a work of great beauty.
She concluded the concert
with ‘Never Saw Blue’, ‘In
Trutina’ and, yes you’ve guessed, ‘Hine
e Hine’, all of which were gorgeous. Following her
brief departure, she returned to sing Schubert’s ‘Ave
Maria’ as an encore. The audience reaction was very
positive and one or two people stood up in appreciation of
her wonderful concert. More and more people followed suit
and soon she received a standing ovation from a significant
proportion of the audience.
It had been announced
that Hayley would be signing CDs, DVDs and programmes after
the concert, and it wasn’t
long before a queue began to form. Dave and I spent some
time chatting with Jill, Fiona, Ian, and Steve while the
queue gradually diminished.
We used a few devious
ploys to ensure we were the last to see Hayley. I would
like to think that we appear to be considerate in letting
everyone else see her first but the truth is, if there
is nobody else to follow, we tend to get longer with her!
Don’t tell anyone! ;)
Hayley signed my programme
and, amid the general confusion that prevails on such occasions,
I became aware that Dave was attempting to take our picture.
Hayley said, “You
come and sit here, Roger”. I ended up sitting with
Hayley on one side and Jill on the other. I passed my own
camera to him to repeat the shot!
I expected we were
about to leave but Steve called me over and passed my guitar
back to me. “Would you like to
make the presentation?” he asked. Presentation? It’s
a guitar, not a platinum disc! Anyway, for a few minutes,
the guitar was back in my possession. I walked over to Hayley
and laid the case on the table beside her. I then realised
we had an audience! I heard Steve’s comment, “It’s
an Aria - good make”. As he walked away he looked back
and said, “I wish you were my friend”! Steve
used to play in a group and I wouldn’t be surprised
if he has tried Hayley’s guitar by now! Ian was also
there and he clearly liked the look of it. That meant a lot
coming from Hayley’s musical director. He commented
on the new strings. Thanks for noticing, Ian! As for Hayley,
well, she seemed pretty pleased! By now she had taken it
out of it’s case and was strumming a few chords. I
was standing beside her as she did so and was suddenly blinded
by the flash. Jill with her camera again!
See you in Banbury on Thursday!
15th November 2005