This is the first concert I have been to with either Hayley or Jonathan and I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed every second of it...to me both their voices were absolutely amazing and their duets were incredible, my favourite being Amigos Para Siempre which they sang at the end before their encore, which was a stunning version of Time to Say Goodbye- which was also incredible despite Jonathan stumbling a little on some of the words but he recovered very well. I loved all of Jonathan's solos too, the only thing was that it seemed that Hayley did more than him. All of her solos were breathtaking too- her voice really is magical to me..my two favourites were overall (a very difficult choice though) were Pokarekare Ana and I Know You By Heart which is actually my favourite Eva Cassidy song. I loved it, she sang it so well- I really hope she records this one soon!! will post more later (hopefully)
“The only time success occurs before work is in the dictionary." "Embrace the thing that makes you, you. Embrace the thing that makes you unique, work as hard as possible and be nice to people." Josh Groban Life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% of how you respond to it
God to meet some of you last night - as promised here is my review of the evening or maybe that should be critique
Hexagon Theatre Sunday 8th February 2009
To me the Hexagon is known for snooker so was not really sure what to expect. Reading means Microsoft or Oracle so is not a town I know other than for business meetings. It is well signposted so was easy to find although the carpark was interesting as I don’t think I was the only one to drive round twice before finding the right way up to the parking floors as the arrows seemed to point in an entirely different direction. As said above don’t talk to me about cars as it proved an extremely expensive evening – I had joked about the fact that the tour bus had to pass near me and they could have given me a lift then I find that Hayley lives quite near me too…
Back to Reading – we all met up somehow in the rain and partook of some sustenance before finding our way into the venue. The Hexagon is modern, bit like a mini BIC or Colston Hall with an arena floor, raised seating at the back and a balcony curving round. It was a nicely full 1,200 red seats.
The stage had a black backcloth, piano to the left with a music stand a stool next to it for the guitarist and to the right four seats and music stands for the string quartet Raven. Tim Moore on piano, Andy Moore on guitar and Raven all take their place, they are all dressed in black.
This concert is very much in the genre of the G4 Cathedral Tour with everything being stripped back which is lovely musically – even though I don’t think they needed microphones. But they do not get the advantage of a Christmassy Cathedral ambiance and I think they would have benefited from some stage dressing. I understand in Rhyl there was sparkly star cloth as a backdrop and that would have been a good addition, I thought they could have had some red roses at the very least on the piano and perhaps to keep things simple some helium filled different tie length red heart shape balloons either side as there was a need for some more romance in the air. The programme is also nice and simple with dual billing around a heart but no new pictures and I would have liked to see this theme taken through to the staging.
Once seated they strike up the opening chords to Un Giorno Per Noi and Jonathan's voice arrives closely followed by the rest of him on stage, grey suite, white shirt, red tie and very nice black patent shoes. Hayley joins him on stage wearing a short read halter neck dress. a tad fussy for my liking but with fabulous high silver sparkly open toed shoes, her hair is straightened with the front section clipped back. Thought JA would have looked even better with his red shirt open necked to complement HW’s dress.
The show alternated between duets and solos and solo pieces from Raven, 22 tracks in all. Highlights for me were the duets of All I Ask of You (best version I have heard of this Phantom classic). JA sings one of my favourites Arranjuez with guitar accompaniment. I loved HW’s version of Clouds and Songbird. You have heard all about the fun and games with Be My Love which I have to say did take the icing off the cake a bit and glad it will not be included again as this is a magnificent song for JA and HW joining in as she does is just wonderful. There is a bit of banter but I think they could do with a bit more interaction with the audience but it does have to be something they both feel comfortable with and they have not found this yet.
The second half opened with Raven and HW comes on in a short black and sapphire Jacquard silk dress to sing a number of solos and is joined by JA in his dinner suit and black tie to sing How Many Stars from Bombay Dreams. JA gives us the translation to Se which is gorgeous before he sings it, followed by Canta Della Terra and the surprise To Where You Are – not a dry eye in the place. HW comes back wearing her long black and gold gown (think the long dresses suit her best) and they end with Amigos Para Siempre – which is truly superlative and I still don’t know why they did not sing this at the ALW party in the park. As an encore they sang the perfect song, Time To Say Goodbye and received a sporadic standing ovation.
Have to say the audience was a bit stodgy, bit like the BIC at Bournemouth with NATO so I think they probably found it hard work – have no idea why that should be other than the venue itself is not a beautiful theatre. I could see the simplicity of this set working so much better in the magnificence of the RAH but that is for another day.
I have been lucky enough to see almost all their duets live – only missing out on The Festival of Remembrance, individually they have exceptional voices but together they really are magical could even be unique – so hope they manage to record an album together and get some songs written for them to complement those they already have. If they are going to do more together they need to work on the visual image as that too could and should be as unique as the combined voices. However there was a little feeling of leaving us wanting, so I think if somehow they could have added another 20 mins of chatting and singing that would have left us feeling a bit more satisfied. I also think that the venue plays an enormous part in the experience and will find it interesting to see if it works better at the Palladium. Last comment guys just be yourselves don’t try and be anything else as it does not work and does not need to work but being comfortably yourself onstage is not an easy task.
WARNING: IF YOU'RE ATTENDING ONE OF THE VALENTINES CONCERTS AND DON'T WANT TO SPOIL THE SURPRISE, DON'T READ THIS POST
That opening duet was “Un Giorno Per Noi” and that red dress was the one I’d seen earlier in photo’s at which point I had made up my mind that I wasn’t going to like it. How wrong was I?!! Within seconds of seeing Hayley actually wearing it, it had become my favourite Hayley dress and I would describe its colour as deep poppy red.
Having finished the duet, Hayley spoke first asking “How is everyone? Aware that she often struggles for a proper response, I replied with a rather louder than intended “Fine thanks!” I can’t quite remember how Hayley responded, other than to say she seemed happy with it and pointed down at me with a grin. Jonathan then spoke about how he and Hayley had worked together for a year and how much they had enjoyed what they had done together which had resulted in the putting together of this tour.
”Hayley left the stage whilst Jonathan sang “My Own True Love” after which they swopped over for Hayley to sing “Songbird” and “Both Sides Now”. Jonathan now returned to stage for the second duet, “All I Ask Of You” from the amazing ‘Phantom of the Opera’ I’ve always loved this song having seen ‘Phantom’ at least five times, but watching Hayley and Jonathan perform it last night surpassed everything I’d seen and heard before! The chemistry between them, coupled with the trust and respect they clearly have for each other is so compelling that it is almost impossible to take ones eyes off them whilst they are singing.
Jonathan and Hayley then left the stage with Hayley introducing Raven who performed three pieces already familiar to Hayley fans, a Vivaldi “Four Seasons” Medley “Gabriel’s Cello” and “Fire Dance” Following this, Hayley and Jonathan did one solo each – “Scarborough Fair” from Hayley and “Arranjuez” from Jonathan. Jonathan remained on stage to perform Mario Lanza’s timeless classic “Be My Love”. Having not yet looked at my programme, I expected this to be another solo particularly as Jonathan started, then stopped, got out a piece of paper with the words on and placed it carefully on the floor. “Better get it right” he said with a chuckle before continuing!
So it was quite a surprise when Hayley joined him on stage for the third duet and final song before the interval. The first half had passed in a flash and I found myself in one of those “Oh no! not an interval! Not now!!" frame of mind, and it seemed to go on for ages whilst we tried to sum up what we had unfolded in front of us during the previous 50 minutes.
Raven opened the second half with three pieces new to me (from them), “Jealousy”, “Czardas” and “The Godfather”. As with their set in the first half of the concert, they received a rousing and well deserved applause from a very appreciative audience as Hayley returned to stage, now wearing the second of her new knee length dresses. This one in a dark or navy blue with a subdued flower pattern.
Introducing a song by Eva Cassidy, this was to be a new solo for Hayley and one I enjoyed very much. It was “I Know You By Heart”, accompanied by Andy on guitar, which she followed with, what I thought was a slightly different arrangement of, “Never Saw Blue”. “About time I sang something from my Native New Zealand” announced Hayley and concluded with her ‘signature’ song “Pokarekare Ana”
Once again it was time for Jonathan to join Hayley for another duet which many will recognise from Hayley's DVD where she sang it with Teddy Tahu Rhodes, of course, “How Many Stars?”
Time once again for a few solos from Jonathan, starting with “Se”, then “Canto Della Terra” and finally “The Way you are”. This was my favourite of Jonathan’s solo’s which he sang leaning against the table holding the water glasses ‘cos I remember thinking “Hope he doesn’t knock them over!”
Once again, Hayley returned to stage, this time wearing her black and gold gown and it began to dawn that the concert was drawing to a close, but what a close!! The final duet was “Amigos Para Sempra” and if the pair had put 100% into their previous duets, this one was off the scale – simply mind blowing!!
That was the end of the concert but thunderous applause and cheers brought them back to reprise the same song. More applause, more cheers and shouts of “More! More! Hayley and Jonathan were almost turning to leave the stage but didn’t. Planned or not their brief consideration had Jonathan heading for the piano to hum a few notes. The musicians began to play and Hayley led off with “Time To Say Goodbye”.
Well, that was the icing on the cake for me and I felt a lump in my throat as they sang. After everything else, that was just the most amazingly perfect ending to one of the best concerts I have ever seen.
At some point I had stood up, we all seemed to be standing, clapping and cheering and those on stage were loving it, especially Hayley and Jonathan as they thanked everyone, turned and left the stage together.
As I write this, I still haven’t come down to earth – I may not before Thursday so I could be up here/there/wherever? For a while!
More to come and some photo's but later tonight as I have to go out for a couple of hours. Don't go away!
Hi All, WOW....Thanks for the reports, Grant, it is always a pleasure to read your detailed story........... it gives me the feeling i was there too!!! Now ,i'm waiting for the pictures!!! Best wishes and greetings JOYCE
Wow, thanks for the reports guys. It is great to hear that Hayley is back and in such fine form, but I knew she would be. I really feel envious that I couldn't be there, so the reports and hopefully some photos (hint, hint) are the next best thing.
Front of House at the Hexagon was buzzing after the concert. The sales stand continued to do a roaring trade, although its position in a narrow part created something of a bottleneck. Concert posters were out on a table by the sales stand for people to help themselves and they were going like hot cakes. Raven came out to spend a bit of time signing CD’s, meeting fans and having their picture taken and they seemed very popular which was good to see.
I caught sight of Richard behind the crowd and managed to ask if Hayley would be coming out. He didn’t think it likely and suggested with a grin that we should go to “the usual place”, indicating the stage door with a backward nod. I thanked him and went to find the others.
Outside, there is already two large groups by the stage door. Luckily it is no longer raining. We didn’t have to wait long as first Jonathan, then Hayley appeared both happily chatting with their respective groups of fans for almost twenty minutes. It was quite funny when Hayley spotted Larry and exclaimed “What are you doing here?!” as this caused a ripple of laughter around the fans gathered round. “Err, I would have thought that was obvious my dear”.
AS I was busy taking pictures, I didn’t join in on the chat with Hayley until near the end of our time with her, but did manage to say to both Hayley and Jonathan that I had thoroughly enjoyed the concert, which was a bit of an understatement really.
With everyone else already on board the tour bus, Richard was anxious to get Hayley on board and into the warm, although she seemed quite happy and looked cosy in her cute red beret. With the usual “See you here”, "See you there" we said our goodbye's and let them get on their way, happy in the knowledge that Hayley seemed happy and contented and pleased to see everyone.
It had also been good to meet and interact with some of Jonathan’s fans – those we met seemed really friendly but now it was time to return to our hotel and contemplate what we had experienced tonight. A night I for one won’t forget in a hurry.
It wasn’t until this morning that it really hit me. After a filling continental breakfast in the company of Gordon, I returned to my room and sat on my bed to wait until it was time to go for my train home and I began to feel the emotion from last night. At least I didn’t have a hangover!
Don't go away! The first pictures will follow shortly
Many thanks to Dilog and to Grant for your stupendous Concert Reviews... Each account is so full of energy and really captures such great attention to detail! What a pleasure to read them! Those of us who were unable to attend could enjoy the benefits of being present at yet another "virtual concert" instead! i21.photobucket.com/albums/b294/hdjoespics/EEjdKsU.gif
HI Grant, Such a pleasure for us to enjoy your journalistic skills plus photographic. Thankyou....shame Hayley didn't end up dating you but I guess she was just too busy.
We're so privileged at HWI and we have the added bonus of Jonothans fans for the Valentines Tour.....SIMPLY WONDERFUL !!!!
Well, I don't know about everybody else but I never tire of seeing pics of our Princess and the videos simply get better & better.
I strongly suspect (absolutely unfounded by solid fact) that Jonothan will be a collaborator in the coming NZ Tour. And with very good reason !!! They are really lovely together. Keep the pics coming....we're insatiable....Graeme
The loveliest, sweetest flower that bloomed in paradise, and the first that died, has rarely blossomed since on mortal soil. It is so frail, so delicate, a thing, it is gone if it but look upon itself; and she who ventures to esteem it hers proves by that single thought she has it not. Humility - Fry