Thanks Oxf and Karsten for the superb photos, and Grant for your review. It's a pity about the no photography rule though - is this a general thing for the whole tour? I hope not, since I love to see photos like those here.
Thank you Grant for your detailed report and also Karsten and Ofx for the pictures. I've spend the evening reading the new posts of the Valentines Tour and haven't found time yet to write my reviews for Bradford and Brisol. But I'll do so soon.
Well, almost everything is said but that doesn't keep me to write also a report. My day started very early on Thursday. I couldn't sleep well because I had concerns that there might be problems arriving at the airport in time or even at all. It was snowing the whole night. Even if there's not much traffic on the roads at night it could be enough if a lorry couldn't handle ice and snow and blocked the motorway. It would cause major troubles to find an alternative route and it would be doubtful to reach the airport in time. I heard on the radio that this scenario happened on my route to the airport one night before and I didn't appreciate a repeat when being involved. So I got up at 1 a.m., sorted my things and made my way to Cologne. The drive wasn't as dramatic as I thought but it took longer than expected and so the early start was a good idea. No snow in Cologne and so my flight took off on time to Stansted airport. The train ride via central London was quite unspectacular and London even welcomed me with sunshine. On my way up north I closed my eyes for a little nap only to see a grey sky and snow again when I woke up. I closed my eyes again to make it undone but it didn't help.
In Bradford I walked through the centre to look for my hotel only to realise that it was directly next to the station where I arrived. From there it was just a few steps to the stage door because St. Georges Hall was right next door. I met Grant and he waited in the lobby of my hotel while I was checking in. A few moments later at the stage door the first fan of Jonathan was already waiting. It was Tracy from Newcastle. We joined her and soon met Karsten and Paddy as well who just arrived from Oxford. As Grant has already said the van was expected at 3.15 p.m. and arrived with a little delay. There wasn't much time to talk to Hayley because of the soudcheck and the TV interview that needed to be done. But I managed to give her a glass of Manuka honey to support her health. In the beginning I wasn't sure if it was a good idea but Hayley seemed to appreciate it. After this first task was done we proceeded to something majorly important ... Dinner! Grant and I went to the Wetherspoon and had a coffee while we were waiting for Karsten and Paddy who liked to check in into their hotel first. After they had found us it was time to order and once again I enjoyed my Lamb&Mint Burger with lots of mint sauce. i21.photobucket.com/albums/b294/hdjoespics/EEjdKsU.gifi21.photobucket.com/albums/b294/hdjoespics/EEjdKsU.gif Prepared like this it was time for me to get changed and I rejoined with the others again at the bar of St. Georges Hall. Not long now for my first concert of Hayley this year.
I sat in row G surrounded by some friendly Jonathan fans. Grant, Karsten and Paddy sat a few seat further away on my right hand side. The concert started like the previous ones with "Un Giorno Per Noi" with only Jonathan on stage. Hayley appeared when it was her turn to join Jonathan and she wore her beautiful new red dress. Her voice has never been better than now and both really enjoyed performing together. After the first song Hayley left the stage so that Jonathan could sing some solo numbers. But she was back soon for "Songbird" and "Both Sides Now". I haven't really followed Jonathan's career before but I must say that he's a very talented singer and he's got an extremely good voice. What I liked most of his performance was the song "If You're Not The One" by Daniel Bedingfield which was included to the songlist after enjoying it a lot during the soundcheck. The very talented Raven girls joined Hayley and Jonathan on many pieces and played some solo numbers as well which I enjoyed a lot. I've never been a big fan of pure instrumental music without anybody singing but Raven blew me away. They complement each other perfectly . Most of the music pieces they played were arranged by Raven girl Natalie Holt. In the interval I took the chance to buy my copy of Raven's debut album. The highlights of the second half were, besides some more solo pieces of Raven, Hayley's rendition of Eva Cassidy's "I Know You By Heart". Even if Hayley had some concerns to do Eva justice I have to say that she did!! I was happy to listen to "How Many Stars" live as I've heard it before only on Hayley's DVD. I can't think of a better duet partner for Hayley than Jonathan as both show so much passion in the performing of the songs. When they ended their last song "Time To Say Goodbye" everybody knew it was really time to say goodbye now to a wonderful concert. I was happy that I booked for Bristol as well to see the whole show once more.
After the concert it started to rain, not very perfect conditions for a meet & greet. I went inside again to get my Raven CD signed. The Raven girls are very friendly and I told Natalie that I've seen them for the second time now after Stoke-on-Trent. She was happy to hear that and asked me then if I was from Germany. I don't know if it was my accent but somehow she got it. I said "Yes" and that I started from Cologne in the morning (well, the flight at least). Natalie then turned around to the others and said "Hey he's from Cologne." They signed my CD and I knew it was the right decision to buy it. After that I joined the others at the stage door sharing the rain with them (There was enough for everybody. i21.photobucket.com/albums/b294/hdjoespics/EEjdKsU.gif ). I was a little concered how long Hayley might want to stay with us because of the bad weather. It rained lightly only but it could be uncomforable for her. It took a while before they came out and Hayley and Jonathan were pleased to see their fans waiting for them. Grant received his signed posters and when it was my turn to get a few things signed Hayley went back inside. Then she turned to me and asked me in. I gave her the Manuka honey in the afternoon and I explained where I bought it in Germany. It's a small shop called "Das Neuseelandhaus" (The New Zealand House) not too far away from where I live. In this shop many items from NZ are offered, a wide range of different kinds of honey, tour guides, wine, music, etc. The only thing that can't be found there is music of Hayley. So I bought the album "River Of Dreams" and got it signed for the owner of the shop. The owner is a friendly woman who lived in NZ for a while before she came back and opened the shop. I hope that this CD of Hayley might persuade the owner to offer a few CDs of Hayley as well. Many customers have been to NZ before and might have heard of Hayley while they were there. At least it's worth trying. She signed a flyer for the owner of the shop as well and I asked her to add "Das Neuseelandhaus" in German. I didn't have to tell Hayley how to spell it. She knew it perfectly. The next time I go to the shop I will hand out the CD and the flyer. I'm pretty excited how the reaction will be ... Hayley and Jonathan signed a lot of items and photos were taken as well. Jonathan is as thouhtful to his fans as Hayley is to us and so they spent quite a while with us. A lot of fans wanted autographs of Hayley and because I was asked in before I could step out anymore because my way was "blocked". But I can't complain. Standing next to Hayley for a while not exposed to the rain felt pretty good.
Even the nicest evening comes to an end and so we had to say our goodbyes. I went to bed and fell asleep after a long but very exciting and pleasant day.
Hi Thomas, I really enjoyed reading your report. .... Many Thanks. I would have loved to have made it but the bad weather did not allow Glad you had a great time. It was a really good idea for the NZ gift and the flyer + CD Well Done.
Best Wishes, ( Hope to see you later in the year )
Hi Thomas and everyone (especially Paddy for reasons see below!).
Thomas, I hope this does not sound patronising but you have written an absolutely superb report which I found delightful to read. It has Thomas bubbling out all through it! Sorry i didn't meet you on this trip over.
As for Paddy, you have made a wonderful contribution because you have brought in pictures of the HWI, which we sometimes get from our regulars, then there are gaps when their concentration is on Hayley, understandably but may I suggest that those far-flung members whom we don't often, if ever, meet like to know something of the group of fans attending?
Her eyes were the blue of cornflowers that dance amongst ripening wheat, Her hair the colour of golden sands bleached by summer's heat.