Road Trip! One always looks forward to seeing Hayley but I’m viewing this concert with trepidation as the weather forecast is far from being outdoor concert weather. Despite the sunny, shirt sleeve morning when I collected Paddy from Derby station, I’ve basically packed for a walking holiday!
We set off for Wales around midday and headed west towards the M6 motorway but heading towards a favourite tourist spot on a Bank Holiday is never a good idea, so finding standing traffic on the motorway wasn’t that much of a surprise. We discovered later that a coach had broken down in the centre lane a few miles north but, not knowing how far the queue stretched, we took an alternative route. We had intended to go straight to the Travelodge, check in, then eat before finding the venue but a call from Paul, already there, advising that Hayley was to do her sound check around 2pm brought about a change of plan and saw us looking for the quickest way there!
We made it for about 2.30, parking in the VIP car park (shhh!) and following Paul’s directions, we found ourselves back stage but there is no sign of Hayley! We sat out of the way watching the technicians beavering away getting things ready for tonight’s concert. Weather looks a little threatening but still dry at the moment. By 3.15 and still no sign of Hayley, and knowing we have people to meet elsewhere, I suggested we go and check in before heading to the OK Diner to meet Martin and John. We found our hotel OK but there appears to be a rather heated discussion going on at reception. We soon discover that part of the hotel has no hot water and we have been allocated rooms at another hotel 15 minutes away! It then transpires that this hotel doesn’t have the rooms either. Things are looking grim until a general consensus was reached that we could do without hot water for one night and rooms are soon allocated.
We made the agreed meeting time with three minutes to spare to find John and Martin already waiting by their cars and spent the next hour enjoying an American style dinner – thanks paddy - i21.photobucket.com/albums/b294/hdjoespics/EEjdKsU.gif with bottomless coffee before heading back to the venue. It has gone quite dark now and there is a light drizzle – oh well! We returned to the performance area – me with bag of waterproofs over one shoulder, camera bag over the other and walking boots on - to find Hayley sound checking. Once again we entered from backstage as it is still an hour from official opening. There are already a handful of people set up in the priority seating area so we settled down on the second row to listen to Hayley. Thankfully the rain has stopped – but not for long!
Thanks to Martin D for sharing your early photos! Looking forward to further pics to come!
Wow, Grant, it was quite a job for you even before the show! What with the bus breakdown and holidaymakers on the M6, hot water issues at the hotel and all! Looking forward to chapter 2 of your report. Thanks for the setlist...from the soundcheck rota, seems more than a few songs were not sung.
It must have been pretty much bang on six o’clock when the rain started in earnest. Most are pretty well prepared and Hayley has left the stage – no doubt to warm herself up. I have a plastic bag tied to my seat (not doing much good!) A second waterproof layer under my bottom ready for later; waterproof leggings; the aforementioned walking boot – I probably have the most snug feet on the field – and a cagoule with hood. This latter is only shower proof so won’t keep me dry for long as this is definitely not a shower! At least until the concert we can have our umbrellas up – Martin and I taking it in turns to hold it up. Oh! and I seem to be catching cold!!
It takes a while to fill up, although the audience probably never reached more than 600ish; with probably 400/500 of those in the seated area which is split equally between the priority seating and VIP seats, the latter having paid £60 for a slap up meal in a marquee and who will descend just as the main part of the concert begins in their soon to be wet and muddy finery!
In fact, the concert began early. Tickets said 8 o’clock but the North Wales Youth Orchestra were assembled on stage by 7.30, began playing and carried on doing so for approximately an hour. Very good they were too a fact that Hayley was quick to acknowledge after they had backed her first set. I lost track of when it rained and when it didn’t during the evening but, at one point, one of the S4/C TV guys came round with disposable ponchos which proved very useful, not only for keeping us dry but for fending off some of the cold that pervaded the evening later on. (Note for Dave: The concert is to be televised on S4/C at some point in the future)
First on after the orchestra was Sioned Terry, a young Welsh mezzo-soprano – she must have been frozen in her virtually backless white gown. Whilst I’m sure she was good – she had an enthusiastic local following – her style was more that of Katherine Jenkins so not really my cup of tea.
It appeared that the concert might be over at this point as both light and sound failed and pitched the entire venue into darkness! Thus it was that we had to wait until everything re-booted before Hayley could finally come out onto stage at around ten past nine wearing the blue dress and burgundy shoes illustrated earlier. Rhys Meirion introduced her wearing a dark suit, sandals with bandaged feet and exposed toes. What? You may ask, well he had just completed a 200 mile walk between Swansea and Caernarfon airports in aid of Wales Air Ambulance; in fact, he’s been back about three hours having arrived in Caernarfon at 6pm. He was very enthusiastic about Hayley mentioning that they had assembled in the tiny Port Meirion village hall the previous evening and Hayley had given up her time to be there. As it is here, the air ambulance is very important in New Zealand too.
Backed by members of the North Wales Youth Orchestra, Hayley launched straight into “I Am A Thousand Winds” and walked onto stage to enthusiastic applause. There wasn’t a lot of chatter from Hayley – possibly because Tim had asked Hayley jokingly at one point to ‘get on with it’ as his hands were getting cold. I suspect there may have been more than an element of truth in his comment but it was all good natured. She did manage to tell us with a giggle that the summer dresses she had packed weren’t going to be much use and expressed her surprise and pleasure that she had an audience at all considering the weather! It is unusual for Hayley to do dedications but she did one tonight for Abigail for her mum and dad. Appropriately she sang “Songbird” (Hope you don’t mind the mention Abigail, but I thought it was very sweet of you and very generous of Hayley)
There was no interval as such, just breaks whilst necessary alterations were made to the stage. Amore performed between Hayley's two sets. Getting everyone to stand and clap hands in time to a rather fast and then even faster “Finiculee Funicular” was a master stroke as hands were getting cold by this time.
It was close on 10.30 by the time Hayley returned to the stage wearing a new dress. Possibly one of the most fun dresses I’ve seen Hayley wear, along with new sparkly sandals. There will be some homework for you shortly Jillian! I was surprised to hear Hayley sing “Amazing Grace” so early in the set wondering what the encore might be, but was delighted to hear “I Dreamed A Dream” once more, one of my favourites of the night. As has now become the norm, Hayley closed her second set with “Wuthering Heights” and left the stage to well deserved lengthy applause and shouts of “more!!” Returning to the stage Hayley asked what we would like her to do. I heard someone behind shout “something Japanese” I countered with “Amalia”. “Uh Oh!" said Hayley with a giggle “How about something from one of the films we used to watch all the time when we were young” Nice to hear “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”. There were more shouts after that but Hayley had left the stage and everything had gone dark although Tim and all the musicians remained seated.
Our puzzlement was soon explained as loud flashes and bangs heralded a short firework display although most of us couldn’t see it being too close to the stage. Hayley's final encore was “Never Saw Blue”. Everyone then returned to the stage for the Welsh national anthem to end the concert. I looked at my watch – it was ten minutes after eleven – three hours and forty minutes of exceptional music and a good soaking what more could one wish for? i21.photobucket.com/albums/b294/hdjoespics/EEjdKsU.gif
Second half pictures on their way in an hour or so
As Grant has already said in his report (saves me writing one) we saw part of the souncheck. I took a few photos there too.
I am always fascinated by the range of expressions on Hayley's face, and she has done it again in the photos I took last night. As you can see she was well wrapped up, even though it was rather warmer then than later at the actual show.
Well, Grant, thanks for the report so far. It is hardly worth adding anything myself, and I assume you will add another installment about the after show.
All I'm going to say is that this was a thoroughly enjoyable concert. I did manage to get some videos, which I hope will appear later.
I had a similar journey to Grant, and got stuck in the jam around Stoke too. So I went straight to the diner, where we had arranged to meet, to find John already there (but not grant, who turned up a few minutes later with Paul and Paddy in the car).
I loved the fantastic organisation of this show. For example, my tickets said "Doors open 6pm". The website said 5pm. And John, when I met him, saif he had just come from there, having got in a 2pm and met Hayley as she arrived!
Grant and I occupied seats in the second row of the priority seating, the others in the row behind. At no time were we ever asked to show our tickets!!
Perhaps the only disappointment was that Hayley did not perform some of the songs in the show that she sang during the soundcheck. Her "Bridge over Troubled Water" was fantastic, and drew applause from those there, and I would have videoed it if she had sung it in the show. I am still waiting to get a good video of "Amalia", another omission. Perhaps she had been asked to shorten her set because they were running late, I dont know. As Grant explained, the show was supposed to end at 10.30 and it was almost that time when Hayley began her second set.
But I'm not complaining. It was an excellent show, and I enjoyed all of the performances.
I have to confess I did not sing along with the anthem at the end, since I don't know the words of the Welsh anthem, but hayley seemed to - at least her lips were moving That's despite Hayley saying a few words in Welsh at the start of the concert, then spoiling it by saying "that's all I know".!
Many thanks for your comments, pictures and video. I wasn't aware that the concert was due to end around 10.30 although that's what I would have expected. maybe the organisers thought that we had endured hours of rainy weather we deserved more music, even though it did mean us getting wetter and wetter! It's the Welsh sense of humour you know i21.photobucket.com/albums/b294/hdjoespics/EEjdKsU.gif But hey, considering what Rhys had achieved the previous week with his 200 mile walk, we perhaps don't have any right to complain - not that we did
By the way, thanks again for the two CD's. I played them on the way home and there was just enough music to get me to within a few hundred yards of my home. "God Defend New Zealand" ending within sight of my drive. A great selection of Hayley songs for 2011 which I will Treasue!