Nothing in life is perfect - and I thank God for that. When we say that something is perfect we are also saying that there can be no growth because any change must be for the worse. In the end, it is our errors which declare and affirm our humanity.
Thank you everybody for reviews and photos. It was an outstanding concert last week in Dublin. My report comes quite late, as always, so there's not much left to write what hasn't already been said. I booked for Dublin because it was my first trip to Ireland. From Duesseldorf it's a 2-hours-flight to Dublin with Aer Lingus so it's actually not a really long way. My hotel was close to the Trinity College, about half-an-hour-walk from the venue but close to the centre of Dublin. I arrived already on Monday and had quite a relaxed first day. I picked up my ticket from the venue and looked at some shops at and around Grafton Street. I decided not to go to the Belfast concert because it was confirmed after the flights and hotels for my journey had already been booked.
On Tuesday I decided to be at the NCH around 2 o'clock. I met George, Denise and Grant who were already waiting at the entrance. Grant said he had seen Hayley heading for her hotel not long ago. So we waited for a while for her to appear for her soundcheck as we always do but on that day the soundcheck appeared to be quite late so we left and went to a nice Italian restaurant where we planned to have dinner. We were Grant, Denise, George, Joyce, Glenda, Paul, Karsten and me. We were later joined by Larry. Later at the venue we met Irish-Hayley-Fan and Paddy with their partners and Eugene, Gerard, Amici and John01 appeared as well. Hope I haven't forgotten anybody. So there was quite a good HWI presence in Dublin. i21.photobucket.com/albums/b294/hdjoespics/EEjdKsU.gif The concert was just wonderful. I really don't like the fact that I'm not able to go to one single concert of the Winter Magic Tour but Dublin compensated that gap a little. Hayley played a lot of songs from her Winter Magic album like Silent Night, Little Drummer Boy and my personal favorite Veni Veni Emmanuel. The orchestra was great too. Almost the whole stage was filled by the orchestra and there was hardly any space left. Sleigh Ride was played insrumental by the orchestra only. I missed Hayley with the bells but you can't have it all. In the second half Hayley sang my other favorite song River accompanying herself on piano. Hayley's skill on piano gets better and better and I really hope she continues playing it on her concerts. Hayley continued with Away In A Manger and Gabriel's Message. That reminded me of her Christmas Presence Tour in 2006 when I was in Sheffield and Cardiff three years ago! Time passes by quickly! Hayley received a well deserved standing ovation in the end and she thanked us with two encores. So we had 15 songs by Hayley altogether. There was a signing session after the concert had ended and it didn't take long until Hayley appeared. The queue was quite long and I actually didn't like to wait that long so I looked at a few flyers on a self beside the queue and then joined somewhere in the middle. I've got the feeling that the Irish don't practise the queueing as extensive as it is done in the UK so it wasn't a problem and nobody complained. I got my Winter Magic CD signed and had a little chat with Hayley. She even found time later for a group photo. Hayley proved again that she's very unique and she seemed to have enjoyed the signing as much as we did. Most of us met later at the hotel opposite to the venue for a drink before we went our separate ways. It was the same hotel where Hayley stayed during her time in Dublin and it didn't take very long until she and Gianmarco appeared. Of course we didn't disturb them anymore and let them go.
I spent the week in Dublin until Friday and met again with Karsten, Joyce, Paul and Glenda. It was great to go to Ireland and I'm sure I will go there again as soon as I've got the opportunity.
Hayley returns to the stage to a round of applause after some orchestral pieces. Still in the sleeveless dark blue dress. Her shoulders and arms bare in the pale light. Hayley introduces a song "That is not a Christmas song but it does have a "Magical Quality" and that it is one of her favourites.. Based on the story of Hansel and Gretel, when they are lost in the woods..and the song is called Prayer... There is a beautiful silence for a few seconds, the orchestra starts ever so gently and the first line flows...
Let your arms enfold us....Through the dark of night..
Hayley's hands rise ever so gently up and outward and back in in front of her as if cradling a small child.. As she does in real life through her work with UNICEF and other charities worldwide. Providing water pumps and bicycles for people a lot less fortunate than us, sitting in comfort in the audience.
Will your angels hold us Till we see the light
I love the sibilance of the word "Hush" a sound made to comfort someone in a troubled state.
Hush, lay down your troubled mind The day has vanished and left us behind And the wind - whispering soft lullabies Will soothe - so close your weary eyes.
Sleep, angels will watch over you And soon beautiful dreams will come true Can you feel spirits embracing your soul So dream while secrets of darkness unfold.
Some of the Irish audience will have known this song as a Rolf Loveland / Fionnuala Sherry composition performed by them as Secret Garden.
Hayley has a knack for finding wonderful and beautiful songs. I feel Prayer embodies what Hayley does and what Hayley is. soothing the troubled spirit and mind. A sonic cleansing of the soul in a world that becomes ever more cynical....
" But you make me forget so very much.
I forget to pray for the Angels
and then the Angels forget to pray for us. " ......Leonard Cohen
Sorry for the delay, I have been trying to draughtproof This old house
my fingers are cold and I have been backspacing a lot of typing errors..Just as well we have SPELLCHECK ...does it work on witches
Hope you enjoy this :
with the ending of Prayer, a song about Angels protecting young children, we go to one of the most gruesome stories in history, Herod's killing of all male babies under two years of age. How bizarre ? The singing is beautiful with a deepening of the voice for "Herod the King, in his raging" Hayley also sings the line "All young children, to slay."which makes more sense to me than the more popular Olde English "All children young, to slay" But then again, the song was written nearly five hundred years ago..
Hayley leaves the stage to a grand round of applause, The orchestra continue with a rather rousing version of Sleigh Ride and all I can do is wish Hayley were still up there on that stage just a few feet in front of me singing this as I know she can do so well.
INTERVAL: HWI members chat together in the various rows of the National Concert Hall I hear familiar voices and laughter behind us from various clusters of people enjoying the interval.
The members of the orchestra take their places for the second half of the concert.
Guess what instrument Carol of The Bells starts with ?
Another instrumental without Hayley...... Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh........Pity , Pity, Poor me !
Hayley enters from the right hand side of the stage and makes her way to the piano, the dress is such a bright red it is verging on orange in the strong overhead light. It is the Poppy red Dress with the flowers at the Hem. Hayley removes her high heels and tells us she is a "Massive " Joni Mitchell fan. I can't see her face as she sings River, But it lets me listen more intently, Her piano playing is fluent and she has done wonders with Joni's song. I certainly like it more than the original version, Hayley's version is polished and flows more smoothly, deeper than Joni's river by several feet at least, It has much deeper blues and greens and more sparkling reflections, This is a river you would happily "Skate away on". Hayley's very pretty legs put her shoes bach on, I still can't see her face or upper body as it is still hidden from view behind the ill placed piano. With a very dignified and elegant Dianaesque turn away from the audience, Hayley leaves the piano and returns to the centre stage microphone and introduces the always beautiful Pokarekare Ana.
Because I don't understand the words, It allows me all the more to just enjoy the sound Hayley makes, This sound is the very reason I come to Hayley's concerts, It is so unique and beautiful, it sooths and heals and eases the mind, It is also cheaper to go to Hayley's concerts than to visit a doctor, You can leave with no prescription, just a sense of peace and tranquility that her voice and songs bestow on you. and for another tenner or so you can buy one of her albums and enjoy it for years. What a great way to avoid a trip to your shrink, no appointment necessary, just listen and enjoy.
The orchestra gives me time to gather my thoughts and write my notes, playing a quick In Dulcio Jubilo.
Hayley returns to centre stage to good applause and without a word of introduction sings Away in a Manger, as pretty as it can be sung, it is a Christmas Concert after all..
Hayley introduces Hine E Hine "It's a Maori lullaby a mother coaxing her daughter to go to sleep". No sooner was the word sleep off her lips than a member of the audience does a trumpeting nose blow, Instantly Hayley responds "That's not gonna work" David Brophy almost folds in two like a hair clip with the laughter. There is a round of applause and ripples of laughter throughout the audience, You don't expect to get jokes as well at Hayley's concerts, a comedienne could not have timed this one better..a spontaneous gem..
Hayley says Hine E Hine with a gentle bow and open hands. David Brophy gathers himself and starts the orchestra. When Hayley sings these Maori songs,They flow like silk on a breeze, whether you understand the language or not, you can feel the beauty and emotion in the sounds. I pity people who just don't GET Hayley Westenra or Enya or other music, They are missing one of the great pleasures in life. But I don't GET golf or football so maybe life is fair in a funny sort of way.
Hayley almost always looks quite serious while she is singing, but when the song finishes and the warm applause begins, Hayley's face melts into an impish grin and she says thank you ever so quietly a couple of times. With a couple of nods of agreement with David Brophy and without further ado Hayley sings Gabriel's Message, a song she first recorded in 2001, when in her early teens for her album My Gift to You. Her voice is more mature now, smoother, rounder, but that distinctive sound is still there, unmistakably Hayley Westenra.
I have made no particular comment about the RTE Concert Orchestra for one simple reason, they are just perfect, The balance is just right, they don't drown Hayley out, they walk hand in hand with her, I think David Brophy likes working with Hayley, I had seen them in sound check up in The Ulster Hall the day before. They work well together, Hayley is a real professional with more experience under her belt already at 22 years of age than other singing artists will have in their entire singing career.
The next song is introduced as a "really cool little number...an English Art (I Think) song. The Little Road to Bethlehem. This song is warm and has some of Hayley's lower, warmer note ranges and just makes me all warm and Christmassy and fuzzy inside.
Hayley finishes the song and after the end of the applause she says "I do believe we've come to the end of the concert...ahhhhh.. Thank you so much for having me back..Thank you ...It's been wonderful to be with you all to (the orchestra) and with you all here" (to the audience with a gentle sweep of her hand) and I'm thinking ^Would I want to be anywhere else^
" This last number is...Well this IS The Christmas Song....Hope you like it..." (Of course we do, It was also on her early album My Gift To You. 2001 Universal)
The applause continues for some time, Hayley receives a bunch of flowers on stage and after much smiling and bowing leaves the stage, The HWI members led by the young Grant, a man with more than fifty Hayley concerts under his belt calls for "MORE..MORE..MORE" The applause continues for some considerable time, eventually Hayley returns to the stage followed by David Brophy and in that gorgeous Kiwi accent, politely asks.."Would you like another song ?" I hear Grant distinctly above the audience saying "Yesss Pleeeeassee " Someone in the audience shouts up a request, either Hayley doesn't hear or can't acknowledge it and says "Sorry ! oh NO, Oh Gosh, NOT REQUESTS" and giggles that well known giggle we all love..
"we do have one rehearsed..so maybe we should stick to that one" and Grant calls out "What a surprise..only one ? Hayley glances down at Grant and giggles again "and it's one you probably won't know but I do really like it. It's got a wonderful sentiment..eh.. It's called Love Came Down At Christmas"
This is a new one for me, I had heard about it, but refused to listen to clips on the internet, I am so pleased to be hearing it live for my first time, What a memory in the making..Live at the NCH. It seems to go by dreamlike, at extremely high speed, It is lovely and the audience are suddenly standing and clapping all around me again.. Was it that short a piece ?
Hayley and David hold hands high, centre stage and bow , They are both beaming huge smiles to the audience and the audience returns the gesture with great and continuous applause, Hayley lets go of David's hand and curtsey's cutely a couple of times, David applauds Hayley, Hayley applauds the Orchestra and the audience applauds everyone..... and Hayley and David leave the stage... and I get the sinking feeling that it is over...The uncertainty of the Irish economy makes me shudder, the future is bleak and I don't have any more tickets for any events, anywhere in the future, not even a bus ticket. but the applause continues... and Hayley returns to the centre of the stage and says "We could do one more... anyone mind ?" all thoughts of the economy fly out the window......Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee..................... Do little boys like ice cream ? my Pitman is good eh ! There are a few rowdy Yays from the front row.
Some spine tingling delicate guitar starts off, Not a pin dropped, for you would have heard it, There is a beautiful silence surrounding the guitar notes, they are like stars in the dark sky, each one twinkling, solitary, then Hayley's voice joins in...Oh Hoooly Night, the stars are brightly shiiiiiiniiinnnggg.. tis the night of the dear Saviour's birth....
This is one of the closest things to heaven you will experience down here on earth, I have a few favoured versions of O Holy Night, Tracy Chapman's is one, It is earthier, more human,There are so many variations of it. Hayley's version is truely angelic and I savour every note and gesture.
Faaaaalllll on your kneeeeeesss....Oh heaaaarr the Angel voices...
The long and sustained.... Oh niiiigghttt deeeeviiiinneeeee... pierces the darkness with a superb clarity and pureness, like a needle right to the back wall of the auditorium, as only Hayley can. After fifteen songs, Hayley is still brilliant, fresh as a daisy, what a voice, I am just so lucky to be here.............. The applause is loud and rapturous, I see Hayley say "Thank You" but you can't hear it for the applause.. Hayley and David bow once more and leave the stage... the applause continues for some time , they come back and bow again... the applause continues.....they leave the stage...the applause continues...and one by one the orchestra members start leave...... and you know the concert is over............
" But you make me forget so very much.
I forget to pray for the Angels
and then the Angels forget to pray for us. " ......Leonard Cohen