Apologies for taking time to reply on this thread, been rushing around quite a bit the last couple of days or so and haven't had time to post anything substantial. I'm just back from the Dunfermline concert now and feeling all Hayleywowed as you can imagine! i21.photobucket.com/albums/b294/hdjoespics/EEjdKsU.gif Just to say at this point that like Andrew I had an absolutely fantastic time at the concert, with brilliant performances from Haylay and from the other musicians there, truly I was sailing along the River of Dreams along with everyone else there!
Well it’s taken a little while but I’m pleased to finally be able to post a few words of my own about the fantastic concert in Aberdeen. And what a way to start the River of Dreams tour it was, with wonderful performances from Hayley and other musicians and an ecstatic audience that really appreciated the fine music that made the evening such a memorable one for everyone there.
I left Edinburgh early afternoon on Saturday, heading on a train up to Aberdeen where I met up with Andrew and headed back with him to his residence. On Sunday we both spent some time walking round Aberdeen, the weather was rather dull to start with but as a sign of things to come there was a brightening up later on in the day as we started to prepare for the evening ahead.
The time came for Andrew and I to head along to the Music Hall, where after a bit of waiting outside for the box office to open we were able to enter just after 6:30pm to collect our tickets and later meet up with Eugene inside. Both Andrew and I were lucky enough to be right in the middle of the front row with a first-class view of the stage!
At 7:30pm the Raven string quartet, Al Gurr on piano and Andy Moore on guitar arrived on the stage and briefly tuned up, before Hayley herself entered, looking magnificent in her Peach dress, and opened with “Prayer” with the strength and power of her voice from the start making clear that we this was going to be a night to remember. Her next song was the haunting Caccini version of “Ave Maria”, followed by a brilliant performance of the traditional “Scarborough Fair” and then a very moving performance of the beautiful “Songbird”, which is one of the songs Hayley has recorded for the new album River of Dreams.
After Hayley had finished “Songbird”, the Raven string quartet took centre stage. They started with an exuberant performance of the third movement of “Summer” from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, followed by the beautiful “Gabriel’s Oboe” from the film The Mission and then a passionate rendition of “Danse Macabre”, the theme from Jonathan Creek. From the start their amazing talent was clear for all to hear and I’m sure that they will go far in the future.
Once Raven had finished Hayley came back on and performed another new song from River of Dreams, “Now is the Hour” in a duet with the guitarist Andy Moore, and then one of the most beautiful love songs ever written, “Never saw Blue”, her performance of which definitely left me almost in tears. After this came “Shenandoah” (with 97 verses left out!), and then to finish the first half the wonderful “Danny Boy”, always a special one for Hayley to perform.
The second half was opened by Raven playing a Scottish piece, “Mrs Jameson’s Favourite”, which would no doubt have been appreciated by the audience there! After this came a Tango and then a fiery Spanish piece “Ritual Fire Dance”, all of them brilliantly performed by the quartet.
After Raven’s final piece Al Gurr and Andy Moore came back on the stage and the band started to play the introduction of “The Mummer’s Dance”, before Hayley returned to the stage, in her new sparkling lime green dress. This is definitely one of my favourite songs for Hayley to perform and she did it with power and passion. Next came “May it Be” from The Lord of the Rings, and then “Pokarekare Ana”, the audience showed their appreciation for this by spontaneously applauding as she began.
After this came the song, “River of Dreams”, this was the first time I’ve heard Hayley perform this beautiful melody live and I’m very pleased to have done so, especially since this song provided the name of the tour and her new album. Hayley then went over to piano and did another strong performance of “Sonny”, making this the first concert I’ve been to where Hayley has not done this song as an encore. She then launched into another joyful performance of the playful “Santa Lucia”, which is always a big hit with the audience! Next came “Both Sides Now”, the lyrics of which Hayley as always put her heart and soul into, and then finally, possibly the biggest treat of the night, the first time I have seen and heard her sing “Wuthering Heights”, what an incredible performance it was, powerful and passionate, and I was left utterly awe-struck by the end!
Hayley then left the stage to rapturous applause and the band continued playing to the end, before Hayley came back on once more for her encore, the beautiful lullaby “Hine E Hine”. This was to be the final song of the night, once finished Hayley and the other musicians left the stage and the audience started to make their way home. There was to be no official signing session afterwards, but both Andrew and I were delighted to be able to meet firstly members of the Raven quartet, who are a very friendly and down-to-earth group of people, and then finally Hayley herself, who seemed very happy to see and chat with the two of us, and definitely left both of us feeling on a high afterwards!
After Hayley and the others had left the two of us headed back to Andrew’s flat both feeling that we had had an amazing experience that evening, one that we will both remember for a long time to come! Hayley and the other performers were definitely on top form throughout the evening, and if the rest of the concerts are anything like this one was then we are definitely in for a very special tour indeed. Thank you to Hayley, Raven, Al Gurr, Andy Moore and everyone else involved for an exceptional evening of music. And a huge thank you as well to Andrew, I had a fantastic time with you in Aberdeen, and to Eugene, it was great to meet you there at the Music Hall. And the best part for me was knowing that I only had to wait another 24 hours before the next concert in Dunfermline! i21.photobucket.com/albums/b294/hdjoespics/EEjdKsU.gifi21.photobucket.com/albums/b294/hdjoespics/EEjdKsU.gif
I couldn't believe it was finally 7.30pm... It was time to start following the ‘River of Dreams’… One felt privileged to be present at this first official Concert of the Tour! The “Raven” string quarlet entered onto the stage, followed by Al Gurr and Andy Moore. The musicians began to tune their instruments as the audience settled in their seats, as we anticipated a spectacular evening of music. Hayley appeared moments later, dressed in a beautiful coral/ peach coloured dress, in the hue of aqua, and blue tinted spotlights which cast an animated cascading waterfall effect onto the curtained backdrop of the stage. Hayley’s Aberdeen audience certainly adored her and applauded her loudly as she took her centre stage position and composed herself to begin. She opened her set with ‘Prayer’. As she sang: “Let your arms enfold us...” Hayley drew the whole audience into sharing the emotions of isolation and prayer for protection of night, from the story of: ‘Hansel & Gretel’. There was literally "pin drop silence" in the Hall, when Hayley sang the lyrics: “Hush, lay down your troubled mind...” Her voice resonated with such clarity and radiance, as Al Gurr complemented Hayley’s smooth vocals with his “floating” arpeggios on the piano. “Raven” conveyed the cold chill of the night wind, with a gentle and harmonious whisper on their strings. The lighting and visual effects looked breath taking, as a subtle mist of dry ice was released onto the stage. This really enhanced the mood of the piece, as Hayley conjured up images of angels watching over us through the night. The audience were thrilled! Hayley thanked and greeted us. She seemed delighted to be in Aberdeen and commented that the Aberdeen Music Hall was such a beautiful Hall to be play in. Hayley expressed excitement for us all, as she told us that this was her very first night of her ‘River of Dreams’ Tour and she was sharing the stage with such a great group of musicians. She introduced her guest musicians to us: on piano – Al Gurr, on guitar – Andy Moore, and on her left of the stage, the "Raven" quartet… Hayley was pleased to tell us that she was sharing the stage with a couple of Scots. She achieved an immediate rapport with her audience by amusing us with her use of Scottish vernacular… She introduced Stephanie, from “Raven” to us as a Scots "Lassie”, much to the appreciation of the audience who responded immediately with enthusiastic applause & laughter! She then drew our attention to Andy Moore, telling us that he was also born in Scotland.
Hayley introduced her second piece to us, explaining that her Nana had once given her the sheet music to the piece when she was quite small. She told us that she didn’t really read music back then and she used to put it on top of the piano. When she eventually looked at it though, it became her favourite version of ‘Ave Maria’ Hayley proceeded to treat us to a stunning rendition of Caccini’s, ‘Ave Maria’. Hayley’s delivery was so clear – she held our attention throughout this beautiful prayer piece with a performance which was quite moving. She sang straight into a blissful and very rhythmic rendition of ‘Scarborough Fair’ with real vigour! Hayley often emphasised particular words with expressive use of her hands. She occasionally inserted pauses into her pieces for dramatic effect too. One particular example of this, which I thought worked particularly well, was during the last line of, ‘Scarborough Fair’ : “He once was....... (pause as though reflecting in her mind)… a true love of mine”… Hayley then told us there was a possibility that ‘Scarborough Fair’ was based on a Scottish song which originated from the 14th century. It was fascinating to hear a little history behind some of Hayley's music tonight!
Hayley introduced her next number as one which is featured on her album which is due to be released on 27th October. She briefly explained that although this album would be a “Best of” Album, she also wanted to record a few new tracks and include them on the album too. She told us that she had recently recorded her next piece, adding that this beautiful song was one of her favourites which had originally been recorded by: "Fleetwood Mac". ‘Songbird’ took to the air… As a new track, this was the very first time that I had heard Hayley sing this piece. Hayley followed Al Gurr’s beautiful piano introduction with the sweet words: “For you…there will be no crying and the sun will be shining…” I instantly felt my eyes welling up! (I have no shame in admitting that!) When the “Westenra Songbird” sang we “certainly knew the score!” Well, Hayley… “we loved you like never before!” The audience were elated by the end of this number. An extended period of rapturous applause followed!
Hayley then introduced "Raven" to us… She reminded us that they were very talented musicians and told us that she would like to let "Raven" take centre stage, so that they could “show off a bit!” for a few numbers. Hayley then encouraged us to give a warm round of applause to "Raven"… The audience were more than happy to oblige! “Raven” played straight into their own set , initially with an arrangement of:‘Vivaldi’s Four Seasons’, which was quite spectacular! Stephanie told us that “Raven” were delighted to be present in Aberdeen, and acknowledged that Scotland was indeed her home country. She explained that Natalie had composed the arrangement for their particular rendition of 'Vivialdi’s Four Seasons' and that we would probably recognise the pieces which were to follow: 'Gabriel’s Oboe', taken from the film entitled: ‘The Mission’ and ‘Danse Macabre’, taken from the theme tune to the: ‘Jonathan Creek’ TV series. “Raven” basked in glory after completing their set, as the audience responded heartily!
Hayley returned to perform her last number for the first half of the evening… ‘Now Is The Hour’, which is another new track included on her, ‘River of Dreams’ album. Hayley really tugged at our heart strings with this very reflective, spiritual piece! To me, this is a song of hope. She followed this up with ‘Never Saw Blue’, which left us all feeling quite transfixed and in complete awe! Hayley then jested that she about to start singing a song with 100 verses… The audience laughed. “What’s wrong with that?” Hayley asked. “We have all night… so we’ll spend the rest of the whole evening singing them…”, she retorted. A very majestic rendition of ‘Shenandoah’ followed.
Hayley explained to us that the next song which she was about to sing was one which she held very close to my heart. She told us again how her Nana used to be a singer herself and how she would sing this song to her when she was much younger. Hayley continued to unfold her story, telling us how her Grandad was also very musical and an all round great entertainer. He would play almost any instrument by ear… the piano accordion, piano, violin… often performing on the west coast of the South Island of NZ. She reflected on large family gatherings which she enjoyed with her family, which were quite often very musical events. Hayley concluded her story by telling us that her next number was one of the songs she used to sing with her family… There can’t have been a dry eye in the house after her very moving rendition of 'Danny Boy'. I thought that perhaps the most touching words of the whole song are the words included in the last line of the song: “And I shall sleep in peace until you come to me…” Rapturous applause followed before Hayley thanked the audience and left the stage with her guest musicians, to conclude the first half of the Concert. This piece had a really powerful impact on the audience… I heard a number of people discussing Hayley’s wonderful rendition of this song in particular, during the 20 minute interval of the performance which followed.
"Raven" returned to the stage at at 8.40pm. Stephanie introduced, their next piece to us as a Scottish piece which her sister, Nicola had played as a duet with Ali Bain at the New Year’s celebrations, a few years earlier. Stephanie recounted how much she had loved it. Kirsty, the other violinist of "Raven" had arranged it for the quartet to play as a result. The quartet then shared a very lively performance of this piece with us. The piece is often referred to as: ‘Mrs Jamieson's Favourite’. Stephanie, Kirsty, Rachel and Natalie then played ‘Tango Jalousie’ for us, before completing their own set with the Spanish piece, entitled: ‘Ritual Fire Dance’ from 'El Amor Brujo', amidst an attractive array of orange and blue coloured spotlights. The audience responded with loud applause.
Al Gurr and Andy Moore returned to the stage. Hayley followed, dressed in a bright, sparkley lime green dress. She opened up the second half of the Concert with 'The Mummer's Dance', which is one of those songs which you just know that Hayley loves to sing! Hayley thanked the audience and then asked how many of us had visited NZ. She asked for a show of hands! After a only few positive responses from the audience, Hayley recommended that more of us should go to visit NZ. She continued to reflect on her thoughts of NZ, by introducing her next song as one from a favourite film of hers, which had been filmed in NZ… As soon as she mentioned that the film she was thinking about was a trilogy, the audience burst into applause! Hayley remarked: “Oh there are some fans in the audience!” She explained that ‘The Lord of The Rings’ was filmed in NZ, and the snowcapped mountains, lakes, rivers and the Canterbury Plains, are all featured in the Film. She introduced ‘May It Be’ to us as a song from the Soundtrack to the Film, which conjures up all the beautiful scenic images of NZ. Hayley’ performance was very expressive. One could just imagine the wonderous landscape features of NZ as she sang. If we were not already “in NZ” in our minds by now, we certainly would be after hearing Hayley’s next number, which was, ‘Pokarekare Ana’. As soon as Hayley started singing the opening bars to this piece alone, the audience burst into applause – which indicated that most people knew the piece very well indeed!
Hayley then introduced her next piece to us, as one based on Vivaldi’s ‘Winter’, and one from her first Album, ‘Pure’ before taking us on a delightful journey down the ‘River of Dreams’... I was delighted to hear this piece being performed with the the added contribution from "Raven". The "pizzicato" of the cello added a real depth to the piece. One could imagine that the cello sound was an imitation of the sound of “deep water splashing around rocks on a river bed”, whilst Al Gurr’s piano provided the accents for the “fast flowing river sounds”.
Hayley then told us that she had decided to play a number for us on the piano because she thought that it was, “kind of fun...”. She introduced, ‘Sonny’ as a song which she had recorded for her album, ‘Treasure’… I felt a lump in my throat… as I witnessed Hayley performing this song live for the first time tonight. It was so beautiful. Hearing the lyrics, “Sonny don’t go away…” I could feel my eyes welling up again! The audience responded to Hayley with an extended period of enthusiastic applause!
Hayley awaited the return of Al Gurr and Andy Moore on stage before she introduced us to the Neopolitan folk song, ‘Santa Lucia’. She explained that the lyrics to the song were the words of a boatman as he gazes out across the water, describing what a beautiful evening it is as the boats are bobbing up and down on the water and the moon is high in the sky. Hayley commented: “He’s saying come on my boat, and take a look at Santa Lucia from the water… it’s so much more beautiful!” We were treated to a wonderful rendition of ‘Santa Lucia’, which was simply majestic!
As a “huge Joni Mitchell fan” Hayley explained a little bit to us about the next song she was going to sing for us. She added that she particularly liked the lyrics for the tune of, ‘Both Sides Now’ which were so beautifully crafted. … Well no-one could “shake their head and say Hayley has changed” in terms of her consistent excellence on stage. A brief applause followed before Hayley led us straight into, ‘Wuthering Heights’. Her delivery was quite dramatic… “Electric” seems to be the only word I can think of to convey her very lively performance! She really put her whole heart and soul into it! "Kate Bush" would have been extremely flattered to have heard this rendition – there’s no doubt about that!!! Another long period of applause followed as Hayley stood in her centre stage position amidst a turquoise glow from the stage lights. She asked us, “Would you like another song?”… The audience responded with the unanimous reply of: “Yes!!!”and a few loud cheers and whistles could be heard around the auditorium.
Hayley explained that her final piece of the evening would be a Moari lullaby. She explained that the music used to be played as the TV channels transmission would end for the evening back in NZ and telling us about the little cartoon Kiwi bird which would climb onto the rooftop and tuck itself into bed in a satellite dish… Somebody in the upper level of the audience appeared to know exactly what Hayley was referring to, since they shouted out in response! “Ah do we have a New Zealander in the audience?” Hayley asked. She invited the same member of the audience who had called out to reply… “Well someone knows what I’m talking about!!!” Hayley joked, before closing her set for the evening, with a very soothing rendition of ‘Hine e Hine’ under purple and pink spotlights. This audience did not want to go home! A long period of ecstatic applause followed as Hayley and her guest musicians left the stage. We had drifted to the end of Hayley's wonderful 'River of Dreams'... What a superb evening!
Libby, you seem to take a dim view of the men on this forum ! I think I speak for most of the guys here when I say what first attracted us to Hayley was her voice rather than what she was wearing. Of course she looks great in anything but when I first heard her sing I was so mesmorized I can't even remember what she was wearing at the time. Jeans I think ! Sorry I can't quote your post but the function isn't working today !
"My love is like a red, red rose that's newly sprung in June, My love is like a melody that's sweetly played in tune." (Robert Burns).
Many thanks for your wonderful reports! It's always interesting to hear how my friends make their journey to the concert, David. I was pleased to learn of your center-of-the-front row seats! I really enjoyed reading your review. Thanks again!
Just wanted to say thanks to Andrew for his report as well. It was as if I was in the front row too! Very good of you to offer David overnight accomodation at the flat.
A review of Hayley's Concert at the 'Music Hall' in Aberdeen (19th October, 2008) was also posted on the Official Forum (www.hayleywestenra.com) by a new member by the name of "Lindsay_S" at the following link here
Hey everyone! Saw Hayley last night in Aberdeen! Was amazing! (Tour Programme is £7 and her autobiography was on sale for the usual price of £16.99 - and at the end a limited quantity of signed CDs were available for £20 - I bought the treasure cd cause i loved the silver pen! lol)
Anyways -The Show: She started off with "Prayer" and didn't start till everyone stopped clapping, and it was amazing how she just opened her mouth and the voice came out. Ave Maria (Caccini) and Scarbourgh Fair were also great to hear, She introduced us to her band (2 of which are scottish, Stephanie & the guitarist whos name i didn't catch) she did a few other tracks one of which was "Songbird" a track on the "Greatest Hits" (not going to tell you the entire first half set list cause that will spoil it for those who are going to see her. She let her support act (who was also her violinists) take a shot at performing before coming back on, sang a little more, then told us she was going to have a 20 minute break and we could go for one too. Part too saw her sing tracks for treasure, & Pure. My favourite was ofcourse Wuthering Heights which was the last track to peform, but my favourite moment on the entire show, was when her pianoist and guitarist were a bit bamboozled as to why she was going to sing pokarekare Ana and not the track they had infront of them! lol Also when the pianoist threw his music books down at another track and said "I know it off by heart" Hayley was like "well if you want to but don't blame me if you get it wrong!" She even took a shot on the piano to sing "Sonny" telling her pianoist "move away from the Piano"
She asked us at the end if we would like another song cause we couldn't stop clapping, and she decided to do Hine E Hine...which was fantastic to hear live. Overall a enjoyable performance!
This River of Dreams tour is turning into something immense. I only saw the rehearsal at Stoke, and that was fabulous, probably the best concert I have ever been to in my life, and that is an awful lot of concerts. If anyone reading this has doubts about going to an ROD concert, don't.. Get there, if there are any tickets left. It will be one of the greatest musical experiences you will ever have.
Many of you will have noticed from the Concert Report submitted by "Lindsay_S", that a batch of presigned 'Odyssey' and 'Treasure' CDs were available for purchase in the venue (Hayley had signed quite a few copies in silver pen)...
I would imagine that Hayley's 'River of Dreams' CD will be probably be available to buy from her concert venues after the date of the official UK release (27th October)... i.e. from 30th October in Newcastle, and for the other UK Tour dates.
Yes, I noticed that Hayley had a silver pen with her at Stoke. I had one in my pocket too, just in case, but in the event she didn't need it. I told Hayley at Lincoln, where she signed my copy of HSJS that she needed a white pen. She must have been listening!