Well - what can I say, for me last night was quite special for a number of reasons, apart from the fact that Hayley was on absolute top form. The whole show was so polished and slick, the venue was modern and the acoustics fantastic.
Before the show !
I set off for Cardiff at lunchtime and as I approached the famous Severn Bridge on the M4 motorway, I cast my mind back to the previous concerts that I had traveled to along the same route. In fact, this was the sixth time that I had crossed the bridge into South Wales to see Hayley in concert in the last two and a half years!!
For some reason, I thought I had been to St Davids Hall before - December 2006, Hayley's Christmas show. I soon realised however, that it wasn't the same place, as St Davids Hall is located in amongst the main Cardiff shopping area - not on the outskirts of the city . After meeting up with my HWI companions for the evening - namely - Roger, Grant & Gordon, we set off to find the stage door.
The Stage Door !!
For just about every other venue I have been to, finding the stage door was not a problem. However, here at St Davids, it wasn't going to be easy First of all, as I have mentioned, the theatre is situated right in the heart of the main shopping mall. Secondly, the whole area is undergoing a massive rebuild and resembled a huge building site. After walking around the entire area of the theatre at least twice, with no sign of a stage door, Grant asked a couple of guys from one of the shops if they could tell us the way. They could - the stage door was up on the next level above the street and access was via a service road, which was mainly the unloading area for the hundreds of shops below
We eventually found the service road and a convenient walkway to one side of the road. We were careful to check for notices stating 'no public access' but there was nothing to indicate that we were trespassing - so we continued. After what must have been about a half a mile walk, suddenly - there was the stage door After about 10 minutes, a security person did ask what we were doing and after checking with his boss, was quite happy to allow us to stay where we were. Within 20 minutes and quite suddenly, Hayley's tour bus pulled up and out got Raven, Andy, Tim, Steve Abbott and of course, Hayley. As there was only the 4 of us, we were able to have a very relaxed chat to Hayley and to Steve. Hayley looked radiant in her familiar red coat, with her hair tied back in a ponytail. Pictures from Grant to follow shortly ...........
After making our way back down to street level again, we found an eating place and spent a few very pleasant hours catching up on the news and all things Hayley.
St Davids Hall is an impressive modern venue - plenty of leg room in the stalls - although that didn't bother me particularly, as I was on the front row . Again we got the announcement regarding photography - but this time NO photography was added into the announcement - as opposed to no flash photography like at Oxford. We did speak to Steve Abbott about this whole no photography business and he confirmed that it is not at Hayley or Bedlam's request - it is the individual venues decision.
Anyway - what a stunning start to the show - Raven, Andy & Tim had taken their places, the lights went low and suddenly, Hayley's pure voice from the wings - " Let your arms enfold us ........................ you know the rest. After the first few bars, Hayley takes to the stage to complete the song. The first time I heard her do that was at Shepherds Bush back in August 2007 - it is so effective and I would hope that she will surprise us like this again in the future.
The first half was slightly shorter than the previous performances, she missed out 'May It Be' - but this certainly didn't detract from the show in anyway as I believe she still performed a total of 16 songs (correct me if I'm wrong Grant ). Of course, as before, the special moment for me was 'Never saw Blue'. I am fairly sure by now that Hayley is aware of how I feel about this song and I am sure also that I was suffering from a severe case of wishful thinking last night, because I really felt that she was singing it with me in mind . Certainly, as I was on the front row, Hayley seemed to look right at me on several occasions during the song i21.photobucket.com/albums/b294/hdjoespics/EEjdKsU.gif. Oh well - its a lovely thought to have.
Raven were wonderful last night - they just keep getting better & better and the audience certainly appreciated them. In fact, the whole show was so slick. For some reason, I was quite emotional throughout the whole performance - it was like I felt there was almost something special going on. Although I have enjoyed the Valentines tour, the ROD concerts are really what it is all about for me and the range of songs bring together the young Hayley (from when I first heard about her) and the more mature Hayley, as she is now - its like sharing the journey with her through her career. Infact, if I had to sum up how last night made me feel, it would be with 2 words 'essentially Hayley'. I mentioned to her about my thoughts last night and suggested that 'essentially Hayley' could be the title of the next tour - haha !!
Anyway, the show came to a spectacular end with Wuthering Heights and an encore of Hine e Hine. A truly brilliant performance that I am still getting over !!.
Hi Mark Thanks for the quick report and I look forward to the last installment. Can't wait for the Cheltenham concert (which incidentally is Hayley's last before the Japan tour) and I also look forward to seeing you there. Looks like I will now have to bring the hankies though!
Hello everyone and thanks for your report so far Mark A Special Hayley Day Unfolds
It seems I’ve only been home five minutes and I’m off on another Hayley day out, this one, though, was to turn out rather special for a small group of loyal fans. Today’s would be an easy run with a direct train to Cardiff and a familiar B&B – not requiring a crack of dawn start either.
Having decided not to unpack anything from Saturday, I washed, shaved and changed in my room, during which I received a call from Gordon to make arrangements for meeting.
I’ve never been to this venue before but found it quite easily thanks to Roger’s directions. As I am first there, I decided I would go and find the stage door but, as Mark has already indicated, this was to prove to be no easy task as I arrived back at the front of the theatre with it still eluding me!
By now, Roger, Gordon and Mark have arrived, so we set off for another look. We weren’t having much luck so we stopped whilst I asked directions from a couple of workmen. One of them pointed up over my head, indicating the service deck! Ah, never thought of that.
At first I felt a little uncomfortable, the service deck I’m familiar with at home is very private, but there doesn’t appear to be a problem and we eventually found the stage door and were allowed to remain there, despite a visit from security.
This is such an out of the way location it is not surprising that we are the only four there, so it’s quite possible that the occupants of the tour bus were surprised to see us waiting when they arrived a little before 4pm.
I did take a few pictures, but again, with such a small group it felt intrusive, so I just enjoyed our time with Hayley. I did manage to say to her that I hoped to have “Posters for Ghana” sorted out in time to give her some details in Bournemouth next week and she said how much she appreciated what I was doing. I guess I already knew that, but it felt special to hear Hayley say it.
Although sunny, it was fairly cold and Dave didn’t want Hayley to get cold so we let them get inside and made our way back down to the street to find something to eat. On passing “Old Orleans” Gordon exclaimed that they had eaten in the one in Oxford and it had been very good, we didn’t need further encouragement and made our way inside. The food was indeed, excellent as was the bill because having entered before 5pm, everything was half price!
A little after 6pm, we found ourselves back at St David’s Hall and ventured inside. The building is on several levels with the entry level being quite compact. Eventually, the barriers guarding the escalators were removed and we were allowed up to the other levels, settling in the main concourse adjacent to the stalls entrance doors and the well stocked sales stand.
At last the doors are opened and we made our way inside. The auditorium is very impressive with many levels, all of which would appear to have excellent views. My seat also has an excellent view, situated as it is, virtually in the centre of the front row. The stage is relatively low, about thirty inches, so I will be able to sit back and watch Hayley without the need to look up at all.
There is little point in me saying too much about the concert itself. Mark has already gone into some detail and much of it is as Saturday night in Manchester. The two significant differences being the exclusion of “May It Be” and Hayley's initial entrance.
To hear Hayley begin singing before you see her is something we first witnessed at Shepherd’s Bush and the impact is nothing short of mind blowing. The lights have gone down; the hall is silent in anticipation of the start, broken suddenly by the beautiful sound of Hayley's crystal clear voice. It sends shivers down my spine reliving the moment as I write.
It was, without any shadow of doubt, a wonderfully polished performance from all and it’s good to see the confidence in Raven building when they do their solo sets. Hayley too, because her rendition of “I Know You By Heart” just gets better and better and I’m pleased that she no longer comments that she hopes she can do it justice. Wuthering Heights is also a great favourite of mine, especially remembering how long I had waited to hear Hayley sing it live.
And so to the encore. When Hayley asked “One more? Oh OK then” some one shouted something from the audience which I don’t think she ever caught, but a lady on the front row chanced to say quietly “Glad you’re better”, which prompted Hayley to remark on the cancellation. She actually seemed quite emotional as she sang the first few lines of Hine, as did I.
We know Hayley is not doing any signing tonight but, once again, Raven are, so I took the opportunity to get a few more pictures. The young lady with them, who I thought up to then was theatre staff, turned out to be Hannah from Bedlam so, with introductions all around, a few group photo’s were organised before the girls went off to prepare for the journey back to London and we considered our next move.
Leaving the theatre main entrance we trekked round to the service deck and up to the stage door. The loading up of the minibus has already begun and pretty soon the Raven girls appear and disappear inside. Andy acknowledges us with a smile and a wave as he assists with the loading.
Pianist Tim is next to appear and this is the first time I’ve had the opportunity to speak to him. I told him how much I was enjoying his playing and he remarked that he was really enjoying working with Hayley and everyone. Apparently, he has know Hayley since 2001 but this is the first time they have worked together. He also said that he’d been living over here for some time. He seems really nice and friendly and it was good to get to chat to the newest member of the team.
Steve Abbott was next to appear and spent a good while chatting with us, which was quite fortuitous really as, during this time, security reappeared and asked if we were with the performers or were we after autographs. Steve explained to him that we were “with him” and that we were “OK” – (Thanks Steve! I think we might have been evicted but for your quick thinking!)
Whilst Steve was there, I also thought to ask how much he knew about “Posters for Ghana” and that if there was an opportunity to repeat the process with other tours in the future, then I would like to do it again. So I’m hopeful that he will take that on board.
We’ve now moved to the side of the minibus in the hope that we won’t attract further attention from security. It was at this point that Hayley appeared, not as you would expect with feet firmly planted on the ground, but giggling in the arms of one of the crew, who carried her down the ramp to the minibus. “I miss Jonathan” she giggled, as he set her down gently in front of us.
That sort of set the mood. I had already said to the others that if it remained just the four of us, It wouldn’t seem right to try to take pictures. As soon as Hayley joined us, I knew it had been the right decision. In fact I think it would have completely destroyed the mood. It was clear that Hayley was happy to have just a few of “her guys” around her and she talked to us a friends. We don’t get the chance to have her to ourselves very often but, Oh boy! When it does happen, it is so very special and I still get that ‘floating’ feeling afterwards just the same as I did that very first time I met her.
We each have our special memories of those few special minutes shared with Hayley so I don’t want to spoil their moment of glory by ‘spilling the beans’ now but there is something I want to share, so here goes. We’ve often heard little bits of banter between Hayley and members of the audience, and Hayley has usually given the impression that she likes it.
Maybe, like me, you have wondered whether or not she genuinely likes it or whether she is just being polite. Well, I can now tell you that she loves it! I’ve responded several times during recent concerts, either with an answer or ‘hands up’ to “Do we have any Joni Mitchell fans?” and she has always picked up on it. So there you have it, Hayley wants feedback – appropriate and polite of course and only when requested and you will make her very happy.
We have already asked Hayley once if she is getting cold and that we should go, to be greeted with “No, it’s fine” clearly not wanting us to leave. But it does become clear that the chill night air is beginning to take it’s toll and she realises she ought to get out of the cold, reluctant, it seems, for us to take our leave. As we begin to do so, Hayley steps forward, her body language requesting a goodnight kiss on the cheek from each one of us in turn. It doesn’t get much more special than that!
Hi Grant Many thanks also for your graphic report and I look forward to seeing your photos. That certainly was a "special" moment at the end and is reminiscent of the time Roger and I met Hayley at the British Legion bikers event last April in London.