I'm going to have a late tea, then straight to bed. My clothes are all hanging up, along with the tie! Shoes are cleaned (to student standard anyway!), coach ticket, wallet, phone and MP3 player are all sitting on my printer, fully charged for the coach journey.
Incidentally, I will be in Banbury by 11.40am, as I want to walk around and explore, take a few pictures etc.
I must admit that I am very much looking forward to welcoming Hayley back to my home town after 4 long years. The whole thing has a apecial meaning to me as my first ever Hayley concert and Hayley meeting were in this very same venue on the 17th Novemver 2005 - or have I already mentioned that i21.photobucket.com/albums/b294/hdjoespics/EEjdKsU.gif
Firstly, my apologies for not catching up with anyone at the show. We arrived before 7 but the venue was already incredibly full. Not the easiest place to wander during the interval and both Mum and I have heavy colds so I didn't want to risk passing it onto Hayley.
The venue is lovely and the show was amazing. Hayley was in fine form, looking and sounding great, very chatty between songs. Raven were the best I have ever seen them perform. I loved the new Scottish medley. The local choirs were excellent.
Hopefully, I can catch up with you guys and the lovely Hayley in Bath.
Will write up a proper review for my website, but it was a lovely night. Have to apologise for not catching up with people properly, but I'm afraid I never will do when I have my boyfriend with me (he doesn't like meeting people). Was most sorry that I didn't get to say hello to you, Ben. I could see you through the entire thing, but I never had an opportunity.
Did you find your wife in the end, Mark?!
Karsten, how did you get that photo?!
My highlight of the evening was 'I Know You By Heart', but then, it always is. I hope she records it for her next album. It always has tears pouring down my face.
It was a nice set, overall. There were some songs on the album that I preferred to what was chosen - I was sorry not to hear Carol of the Bells, Christmas Morning (my favourite!), Winter's Dream and All With You. Though Sleigh Ride was one of my favourites from the album, it didn't work live, in my humble opinion. She looked incredibly uncomfortable.
Loved her performance of 'River' on the piano, but like I said before - I Know You By Heart - she performed that her best ever. It was just amazing, and the climax at the end meant I couldn't blink back the tears anymore! So, so beautiful. I actually much prefer Hayley's version to Eva's and considering Eva's immense capability for emotion, that's saying something for me.
Raven were fantastic. The Scottish Medley (or whatever it was) sounded beautiful, and there were melodies in there that I quite couldn't put my finger on, but certainly knew. I do wish they would stop performing 'The Godfather'. It's too long, and, I don't know, it's my personal taste, but I really do not care for the music at all. Their performance of Bolero was fantastic, and I loved how much enthusiasm they got from the audience, and to see how they pleased they were with the fact.
Anyway, like I say, proper review later on my website, but that's my general feeling at the mo. Now, time for bed!
Hello everyone Been home since midnight - have to be up early today so I'm not going to be up until all hours so a slightly shorter report from me tonight (Who said Hooray!!?)
Not the best of journeys down to Banbury this afternoon because of major road works that I didn’t know about at the A46/M40 junction which took 40 minutes to navigate instead of the anticipated 5. Consequently it was after 2.15pm when I finally arrived at St Mary’s church. Martin, Karsten, Paddy and Ben are already there and the church is already closed so no sound check today. Mark joined the group at 2.30pm.
Hayley and the gang arrived a few minutes before 3pm and Gianmarco disappeared inside. Hayley was last off the minibus in her ‘flying jacket’ and looking quite cosy, spending a few minutes with us before disappearing inside herself. At this stage it doesn’t look like there is going to be a signing as Hayley says everyone is tired and needs sleep.
With nothing else to do, Mark lead us into town to a recently opened Wetherspoon’s for refreshment and to while away the time until we have to be back at church. It’s quite busy but we eventually manage to get a table together for our meal.
We were back at St Mary’s soon after 5pm, luckily under the high portico, as it soon began to rain and the queue began to stretch back towards the street. I didn’t catch exactly what time we were let inside, but Martin said it was early, and we were directed to the second row which we promptly filled. It’s a very interesting building. Similar to St James’ in Piccadilly and with a balcony. It is wider and higher and has a well equipped stage. It also has ‘box’ pews (pews with doors if you’re not familiar with the expression) very unusual these days for a large town church.
I bought a programme and noticed that amongst the other items, copies of “Winter Magic” are available for the first time.
And so to the concert, opened this evening by three different choirs totalling almost 30 young people and children who sang very prettily and were very enthusiastically received by the 550 strong sell-out audience. And so to the main event. There’s not much I can add about the concert itself as it followed, almost exactly, the Peterborough Cathedral one. Hayley still has her sleigh bells and still wears her high heeled platform shoes to play River. There still appears to be a few problems with the sound as Hayley had to keep asking for ‘tweaks’ here and there. We did also get a second encore – “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” which I had only heard at sound check before.
There was, in my opinion, one big difference though – Hayley! Because I felt this was her best performance ever. She nailed everything and then some. She just seemed unstoppable – not that you would want to stop her of course. I suppose it helps that the set comprises mostly new songs, all of which I love to bits but, if I had to pick favourites, well, “O Holy Night” of course, I just love to hear the passion in Hayley’s voice and watch her expression as she visualises what she is singing. Then there’s that final note of “Corpus Christi Carol”. Hayley is clearly fascinated by the origins of this pre 1502 carol as she talks quite a lot about the version of what it’s about that she likes the most – and watch her face as she shapes that final note that’ll send shivers running up and down your spine – amazing. Other favourites of mine are “Veni Veni Emmanuel” and her very own “Peace Shall Come”.
I’m now in danger of including everything off the set list ‘cos I haven’t mentioned “I Know You By Heart” and then “River” …..
As always, the concert seems over far too quickly and we are at that stage where everyone is leaving and we’re hatching our plans to at least say a quick hello to Hayley. Raven have come out to do a signing and there’s speculation that Hayley may also be coming out. Sure enough, Hayley appeared in front of the stage a few minutes later, still wearing her red dress and is immediately surrounded by hoards of children and their parents. I chatted to a few as I moved around taking pictures “Isn’t she lovely” seemed to be the general consensus. Of course I agreed! She must have posed for pictures with a couple dozen of the children who just seemed to keep appearing beside her to have there photo taken.
As it quietened down a little, I thought it about time I got my programme signed and was really pleased with the enthusiastic “Hi Grant” I got from Hayley when she spotted me. Even had my photo taken with her for the first time in a while (thanks Karsten!) At least this time I got to tell her personally how much I love the new CD and her live performance of some of the songs.
I woke up at about 8am, mild butterflies in the stomach, just like the feeling on the morning of my first concert! My alarm on my phone read "todays the day! get up!!!¡¨. So up I got, not really knowing what to do. My mind was everywhere! I decided to have breakfast first (bacon and sausage sandwich). After, I showered, changed into my concert gear, (black shirt, suit trousers, etc) and collected up all that was laid out the night before - MP3, phone, camera, etc.
After calling goodbye to a hung-over (again) flatmate, who replied with a grunt, I left my student digs at about 9.45, for the walk to the coach station. It was a brisk day, a few clouds in the day, but pleasant. I had 'Pure' enchanting me along the 30 minute walk to the coach station. After boarding, I (as well as the butterflies) fell asleep to the sounds of HSJS'K.
After arriving at Banbury at 11.40am, I had a good 2 hours to fill, so I thought I would have a wonder and explore. Thankfully, the coach station is right next to the canal, and I had a lovely walk up, taking a few pictures, watching someone pull their house boat about 200 yards up the canal. I then realised that I had done the same mistake as I had done at Dudley! I had forgotten to print off any directions to the concert venue!! There is always something I forget, but in the end I was quite glad that I had done that in a way, because it meant that I came across plenty of interesting features whilst on the hunt for St. Mary¡¦s. The town centre was heaving, and I had trouble getting through the crowds of people to proceed on up the high street. I had remembered from looking at Google maps a few nights before that I was going in the general direction at least. I found a church, and thought that I had found St. Mary's, of which I felt confident, but a casual wonder further up the street brought me, purely by chance, to St. Mary's! I am thanking my curiosity for wanting to have a further look up the street, as I would never have found it!
After taking a couple of photos of the entrance to the church, I preceded inside, where I met Karsten, enjoying the warmth of the church! After about 10 minutes, Paddy turned up, and introductions commenced. We were wondering whether the church would be closed for the sound check, and unfortunately it would be, but that didn't phase us, so we proceded outside, where we were joined by Martin (introductions again). We then spent the next half an hour or so waiting for Grant to arrive, which he eventually did! We then spent the next 15 minutes or so debating whether the main entrance was the only entrance for Hayley to gain access, all the while waiting for Mark to arrive, again, of which he eventually did! (intros). After all who were arriving for the early meet had arrived, we waited and debated again where the mini-bus would be stopping. Some time later the mini-bus arrived, and we gathered just before the entrance to the church grounds. Hayley was welcomed by Grant and Karsten's cameras, as well as my own (the lighting was terrible ¡V a grey day made worse by trees blocking out what light there was), but Karsten and Grant managed to get some brilliant photo's nonetheless. (Mine were shocking!) After a hurried hello, of which Hayley signed a couple of posters, and Andy had some photos taken, they all whisked into the church for the sound check. We all proceeded to follow Mark to the local Wetherspoons.
The Wetherspoons we chose was packed! We all sat down at different tables within close proximity with each other, and continued to talk about all things Hayley. We eventually found some tables which we pushed together to make six, and we ordered (I tried quite cheekily to get a student discount!) We had a lovely relaxed meal (apart from a waiter who knocked a pint of fosters all over Martin¡¦s food, who then continued to use the menu¡¦s to sweep the spilt beer onto the floor!).
After the meal, we all continued back to the church to start queuing. Grant, Karsten and Martin went ahead, whilst Paddy and Mark waited for me to draw out some funds to pay Mark for the Bath concert. We encountered the girls from Raven out looking for a place to eat, and they seemed to settle on a place called 'Top Wok'. We found a small gathering queued at the doors when we arrived, which quickly grew to go beyond the church gates and along the pavement. We waited for a good hour or so, keeping an eye out for Nicola, whom I was looking forward to meeting. At 6.15, the church doors opened (15 minutes early ¡V how considerate!) and continued inside to get the third pew row, which offered a brilliant view of the stage, and sat down, waiting for others to filter in and find their seats. The programs for this concert were very well presented and produced, with a small bibliography for Hayley and her band, along with an HWI mention in the special thanks on the back page! We talked amongst ourselves until 7.25pm (early start) when the steward made a general speech (of which he said that there was strictly no photography, which confused us) and introduced the St. Mary's Youth Choir.'
I annoyingly cannot remember what the choir sang (accompanied by Tim on keyboard) before Hayley came onstage. Some of the other members can help me on that!
When the choirs had finished their pieces (which they sang brilliantly!), the steward introduced Hayley, wearing her lovely silver dress, to loud applause. Hayley then proceeded to say a few words on her tour and being back in Banbury before getting started on her usual set. The set was, as far as I know, the same as the other venues before. After 3 songs (Veni Veni Emmanuel, The Little Drummer Boy and The Christmas Song), Raven had the spotlight. I cannot describe in words how lovely Hayley sang those songs. I am very glad that I heard the new songs live before I listened to them on the CD (Which is in the post - come on HMV!!!). As usual, my eyes were closed, but my hands stayed still! Raven¡¦s first set was amazing!! Again, I am a little tired, and I can't remember what they played, but I was enthralled and flabbergasted by the standard of playing!!
Hayley then continued with 'Ave Maria', 'The Little Road to Bethlehem', 'Corpus Christi Carol' and 'The Coventry Carol', accompanied by the Youth choir, of which were beautifully sung. I particularly liked the 'jolly' feel of 'The Little Road to Bethlehem'. I opened my eyes for this one and watched what Andy was doing on the fret-board. He is sooo lucky to be part of Hayley's band, as are all the other performers! The interval then commenced.
The second interval commenced with Raven taking centre stage, with yet more virtuosic flare and expertise! Their rendition of 'The Godfather' theme was a highlight for me, as well as their acting skills! Their album is on my Christmas wish list, along with many others! After Raven finished their opener to the second interval, Hayley commenced (now wearing her red ¡¥dress¡¦ ¡V sorry folks, the others who attended can clarify which I mean!). Her performance of 'River' was perhaps the best of the whole concert for me - it was mesmerising - I was in a trance. Hayley stated beforehand that she was trying to play the piano - she was doing much more than trying, she was succeeding!!! She then continued with the Eva Cassidy song 'I Know You By Heart', which was beautifully sung. I opened my eyes to watch what Andy's hands were doing on the fret board - I am now determined to learn that song! She then continued with 'O Holy night' which was sung with so much stamina! I was on a cloud again. She just kept hitting those high notes effortlessly. I was completely in awe. Next was 'Sleigh Ride', which was very good fun. Hayley was bobbing about with her sleigh bells, and I could tell she was having the time of her life! I can't wait to hear it again! The last 2 pieces , 'Peace shall Come' and 'Love Came Down at Christmas' were the final 2.
After a huge round of applause, in which Hayley was presented with a bunch of flowers by one of the children from the Youth Choir, Hayley then sang 'Silent Night' as an encore, to the delight of the audience. After, the applause lasted a good few minutes, during which she praised her band.
After the concert, Raven did an official signing, of which Karsten and I took some photo's (the lighting wasn't great). After about 15 minutes, Hayley appeared at the stage and all the kids flocked to her for photos and signings. I chose to wait until all this had died down and chose to take a few more pictures of Raven, as well as to have them sign the program, of which they did happily. During the time it took for the commotion surrounding Hayley to die down, Tim and Andy signed my program. I also asked both of them whether a songbook would be produced for 'Winter Magic', of which they weren¡¦t sure. Andy suggested I contact Hannah at Bedlam, which I will do sometime. It was interesting talking to Andy, as he was trained classically to begin with, and he seemed interested that I was studying guitar at Birmingham. By the time I had got round to waiting for Hayley to sign my program, most of the crowd had disappeared to leave the HWI¡¦ers and a few others. I had a nice quick talk with Hayley about how I had stopped myself from conducting this time, of which she seemed a bit lost, until I mentioned Dudley, which brought the memory back. She seemed to recognise me vaguely, but not by name, but when I said the signing was to be made out to me, she seemed to remember. I also asked her on the possibility of a songbook for winter Magic, of which she said that that was something not totally in hers or Bedlams control, so I would just have to wait and see!
Shortly after, she and the rest departed,and I was very kindly offered a lift back to Birmingham, instead of having to wait for the 1.40am coach back! I would just have boarded about now if that had been the case!
Anyway, tonight was an amazing night that I will never forget, and I am already counting the days until Bath!
It was great to finally meet up with Martin, Paddy and Mark, and to also meet up again with Karsten and Grant! I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to say hello Nicola!
Thanks folks, that's all from me! I know I have made a few mistakes here and there, so I will leave it to the others to correct me! Some of them are due to tiredness, as I'm sure you understand!
Right, I'm going to get some sleep - I have a days worth of practice to catch up on!
...Though Sleigh Ride was one of my favourites from the album, it didn't work live, in my humble opinion. She looked incredibly uncomfortable.
I was so lucky to hear 'Sleigh Bells' performed by Hayley live four times. I've to disagree - each of these four times, not only did she look credibly comfortable, but to my mind she (and all on stage) had great fun performing this song.
It's good that you enjoyed it. We all interpret things differently. Did you not see my question directed at you (can I use your photos?) or do I take the lack of comment as a decline? I guess you have rushed back to the air port! Have a safe flight, and I hoped you enjoyed the UK again! <3