Doesn't anyone have a photo of Tom? Or have we already seen him and nobody identified him? Did he purposely stay out of the way of being photographed, or something? There were a couple men I didn't recognize in some of the photos, so I may have seen him and not known.
Hi Folks .....this looks like a good place for me to jump in and extend my thanks, on behalf of our forum, for all the support that Tom received from your forum members during his resent "Card Odyssey".
Specifically Tom mentioned (quoting) ....."Roger, Grant,Karsten,Thomas,Paddy, Peter, Steve...oh my there were a bunch of them..took me into the group and also helped remind Hayley's road manager about the cards"
This was a great gesture on your part, and we really appreciate.
(.....and PS Libby ....I have a pic of Tom that Karsten took)
Oh, great, he said that you would be able to sign at Southend. I thought you two even discussed it! Wonderful, Hayley has a card that signed Libby, Bob, Belinda, and... how embarrassing. Blame it on Tom, he's the one who seemed to think you could sign it when he met up with you! Now I'm going to worry about how ridiculous Hayley must we think we are!
After my belated report of Southend here's now my even more belated report of Swansea. I left Southend after breakfast and made my way to Swansea. I thought it would take about 6 hours but with a few stops for sight-seeing and eating it turned out to become an 8-hours-drive. The journey first delayed on the M25. Actually I thought the rush hour on Friday might be the worst. But that was harmless compared to the holiday traffic on Saturday. The traffic jam cleared behind Reading and the road was free enough to speed up a little. When I visited Bath last June during my summer holiday there was some engineering work on the main road and the traffic was diverted via Bradford-on-Avon. It's a lovely little town but unfortunately we didn't have time to stop there last year. That's what I did on Saturday. I catched up on visiting Bradford-on-Avon and there was even enough sunshine for some nice photos. Bath is right next door but I didn't stop there because I plan to be there in December anyway. Later when crossing the border to Wales via the Severn the first you see of Wales is a barrier with someone asking you for £5,40. After I had payed my entrance fee the road was free to go to Swansea. Wales is a special part of the UK, the scenery is great, the people are nice, the weather isn't. I arrived in Swansea at 6pm, checked in to my B&B, had a shower and an hour later or so I walked a little around the centre. I found the Grand Theatre and made sure also to find the stage door. Someone of the theatre's staff told me the box office opens one hour prior to the show on Sunday. That wasn't a problem as long as my ticket was still there and fortunately it was. The centre of Swansea seems a little like a ghost town. One could see a few people only in or in front of pubs and restaurants but the roads were quite empty. I had some fish and chips at the Wetherspoon and refilled my store of G&B chocolate at the Tesco before I returned to my B&B.
The Sunday appeared to be very rainy throughout the whole day. After breakfast I drove to a beach called "The Mumbles" but the bad weather didn't let me take one single picture. I arranged to meet Karsten and Paddy at 12pm at the theatre but because I stopped at different places in the hope of a picture I was late and so I missed them. I didn't expect them to wait for me under those weather conditions so I strolled around the centre had a bite to eat and decided to go back to my B&B to get changed. While I was putting on my concert clothes I watched the last rounds of the Hungarian GP and Lewis Hamilton's first victory this year. Well done! I walked back to the theatre and found Paddy, Karsten, Tom and Peter already waiting at the stage door under the shelter for smokers. A dry place at least. We were soon joined by Grant just in time before the van arrived. Hayley, sitting on the front passenger seat, appeard to be in a very good mood. She got out of the van and Tom helped her out with his umbrella. First I thought as well that Hayley wanted to go straight inside and out of the cold and the rain but then she lurked around the corner waiting for us to come over and say "Hello". Very thoughtful of her. She signed me a CD for a friend of my mother and we had a little chat. I asked her if she might surprise us again with her new song. Hayley didn't answer but smiled, waved and got in for the soundcheck. So she left us in suspense. Dave told us later that there was another surprise in the shape of the Kenfig Hill Male Voice Choir opening the concert and joining Hayley for one song. So there was something to look forward to, a show different to Southend. I went with Grant to his Travellodge because I wanted to take a look at the hotel that I cancelled twice. I can't say anything about the rooms but I was happy that I opted for my cosy little B&B. We went to the Wetherspoon to meet the others and to have dinner. Thanks again for the drink, Grant. Fortunately the Wetherspoon was very close the theatre so it wasn't far to walk afterwards. My ticket was still in the box office and so I was able to take my seat in the middle of the front row.
The concert began with the male choir and they performed quite a few songs. They were nice to listen to and they increased the suspense which song they will perform with Hayley. Hayley opened her part with Prayer like in Southend and Raven were fantastic as always. Before singing Shenandoah Hayley made her joke about the 100 verses "... and the doors are locked". i21.photobucket.com/albums/b294/hdjoespics/EEjdKsU.gif It appeared to me that she felt a bit unsure because she's told that joke quite a few times but I find it amusing everytime again. She sang "Mummers' Dance", one of my favorites, during every RoD-show I attended. At the end of the first half she told us about the kiwi climbing into a satellite dish and everybody knew it was time for "Hine E Hine". The curtain in the back rose and the Kenfig Hill Choir joined her. It was a perfect addtion to a wonderful Maori song. In the second half Hayley introduced "Pokarekare Ana" by telling the story what the song is about and added then that she's from New Zealand, just in case somebody thought she was from Australia. There was a little murmur in the audience and so Hayley asked if there was someone from Australia and looked around blocking the glare of the stage lighting with her hand above her eyes. There was a "yes" from behind. So Hayley put on her cutest smile and said "Oh ... hello!" followed by a few giggles. How nice was that? It's the little things that make each single concert special. Even if most of the song list is the same each concert appears completely different. She sang the new song "Talk To Me" again but she didn't hesitate this time before she started. This song will definitely become my new favorite. In the end of the second part she sang the Italian song "Santa Lucia", she checked how many Joni Mitchell were in the audience before continuing with "Both Sides Now" and ended the regular set with "Wuthering Heights". I hope she will continue singing "Wuthering Heights" in future shows because is such a nice difference to the classical songs. "Hine E Hine" was played already with the choir and so we got "Amazing Grace" as encore. This was how it ended. The last concert of the RoD-tour which started already last year was over. Before we left the hall we asked Tim for a song list of act two and he walked across the stage giving us all the song lists he could find. Thanks again, Tim.
After the show Raven had a little meet & greet and soon after that we went to the stage door to wait for Hayley. It took a while until the interview was done. We had a little fun with the film crew when they came out trying to put all their stuff in a little car. Tom went around the car with his pocket lamp checking if their car was built in Lansing, Michigan. That was very funny and the film crew appeared to be more amused than irritated. i21.photobucket.com/albums/b294/hdjoespics/EEjdKsU.gif In the end Hayley came out and had time for all of us. The crowd was a lot smaller than in Southend and so we had a little chat with her and Dave. Someone from the staff gave out RoD-posters which weren't needed anymore so Hayley could sign them for us. Soon there was time to say good-bye and we had to let them go home to London as we made our way to our accommodations.
The weather on Monday appeared to be very good. First there was some heavy rain and I was glad my B&B was placed on a hill so the possibility of being washed away was little. After breakfast the sun came out and stayed there for most of the day. I drove back to London with one more stop in Bradford-on-Avon for a little walk and some Cream Tea. i21.photobucket.com/albums/b294/hdjoespics/EEjdKsU.gif There was no traffic jam on the whole way and I arrived in Heathrow in time. I checked in at on of the self-service-counters and had to drop my bag then. I don't know why the call the counter to which you go when having a boarding card "Fast Bag Drop"? Everybody had a boarding card and it was everything but fast. I opted for a counter with a short queue only to find out that there was another extended family, like in Duesseldorf, trying to check in unsuccessfully again. I took 20 minutes until they were ready and the guy at the counter said that he will close his counter now! The other family in front of me started to argue with him and so they were able to check in as well but I had to look for another counter. All "Fast Bag Drops" were horribly slow and so I went to the "Assistence Bag Drop" counter. The guy there wanted to send me away because I've already had a boarding card. I told him a few words and was able to drop my bag in the end. How can any oversea flight start on time when dropping one single bag takes more than half an hour?? The rest of the journey went without troubles and I arrived home at 11pm. Thanks everybody for a fantastic weekend.
While I have far less excuse than you for being late and had rather thought I wouldn't, since you have just posted, I thought i would after all, as you prompted some reminders.
I had expected the choir to sing a 'song or two' not what seemed an entire concert. Out of courtesy to Hayley I sat with it patiently but I was interested to realise how irritated I was that Hayley was further delayed. They were a good choir and normally I would have been interested but as far as I was concerned at that moment they were just in the way. However, I will comment on two things. One, they have a good arranger and this was apparent particularly in their final with Hayley and of that final there is no question that they are a solid body of good voices.
Having only two days before had a superb Hayley performance at Southend, I was surprised at myself for my irritation at Hayley's non-immediate appearance when the lights went up.
As for further comment from me, i will simply quote what I said to Hayley afterwards. I thought she was the tops at Southend but at Swansea it seemed as if she had surpassed even that.
Having re-read In Her Own Voice over the last three nights before sleeping I am reminded by her specific intention to 'go with the wind' and 'let it all hang out more'. Not her words but my interpretation and it shows.
I have previously written that Hayley simply walks on stage and she is in command. On these last two performances she really was 'letting it all hang out' and as she says in her autobiography she is beginning to realise that things don't fall to pieces if she adopts that attitude. You are right, Hayley! I wonder if the couplet I usually add to the Christmas/Birthday card I send her had any effect? It is quoting the opening lines to Davies' poem 'Leisure': "What is this life, if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare.'
I started the week leading up to Hayley with an outdoor family concert. That prior weekend was the turn of what has become an annual affair with Chris Garrick bringing his band of players to perform in my brother-in-law's back garden. Inevitably this means formally inviting the neighbours since they would inevitably be informally invited by the noise alone!
Certain aspects of my family have experience in diverse aspects of professional theatre, so for us to accommodate an audience approaching 70 on the back lawn is comparatively easy, if a lot of hard work. Family get-together though it is everything is instinctively geared to health and safety, after all we are playing around with electricity for lights and sound amplification which might get wet. This means erecting a marquee for the audience and a cover for the stage which usually only gets done as the first members of the audience arrive for a toddy and general chit chat.
Then a call to seats heralds the start of the evening with an 'Have I got to do something now?' from Chris and he and his band amble on. A seemingly too soon enquiry wants to know if supper is ready yet but it isn't, "Two more songs will do it, please." "So you want me on for another ten minutes or so?" "Emphasis on the 'or so', please."
Eventually we manage to process 70 to a choice or mix of sausages, beef burgers and lamb chops with appropriate accompaniments, then a choice of desserts. The chef enjoys cooking as a hobby but career-wise is the retired former head of the Berkhamsted Fire Brigade, so we have the right person in charge should the charcoal grills get a little over-excited.
Now why do I dwell on this 'pre-Hayley' event? As I have remarked before I am not a jazz fan but when you have performance from a world-class player (Garrick has performed with Kennedy and is a professor of music) you cannot help but admire and be fascinated by not only his superb command of the instrument but the band's overall command of the medium of music, you just know you are hearing some of the best in the world.
At this level of professionalism there is a casualness that any 'normal' player would sweat blood to achieve. It is not nonchalance, it derives solely from total mastery of their art. That is how Hayley was at Southend and Swansea. We did not see Hayley Westenra, international singer give a concert: we saw Hayley Westenra, international personality simply be Hayley Westenra. Her relaxed style came not from casualness but from total mastery of her art; total confidence in her backing (pianist and Raven); she could have been on her family lawn, in front of an audience of friends spilling out from her living-room. For me, these two concerts will stand as some of the finest concerts she has ever given. I write 'some' solely because, with Hayley, there are so many concerts in which something happens to make them memorable. These concerts were memorable for the superb balance of the collective whole: a statement of everyone's individual mastery of their art. Here, we saw Hayley deliver what only the best in their field can deliver and that is what she gave us.
Her eyes were the blue of cornflowers that dance amongst ripening wheat, Her hair the colour of golden sands bleached by summer's heat.