Review: Hayley Westenra, Newcastle City HallOct 31 2008 by Gordon Barr, Evening Chronicle
SHE may only be 21 years old, but Hayley Westenra sang with the clarity and conviction of a woman much older.
The New Zealander truly does have the voice of an angel, mixing classical ditties with popular classics with great ease.
Not many her age could tackle Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now and get away with it, but Hayley did just that, before launching into a stunning version of Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights in the best version I have heard since the original.
It’s a real pity the City Hall was not fuller – it was a show not to be missed.
Hayley came across as extremely personable and has some lovely banter with both her band and the audience.
Her Maori renditions were stunning, especially the beautiful Pokarekare Ana.
She may have ended on Amazing Grace, but I’m sure all of us at the City Hall last night were thinking Amazing Hayley.
I have one question for everybody here though... Where is Roger???
Roger should be home by now but he's probably still Hayleywowed from last night like the rest of us.
We had a fantastic time and will prove it with reports and pictures as soon as we can - it took me most of the afternoon to catch up with the forum, for now though, I'll just fill in the gaps in Grahams set list
Initial travel arrangements went quite smoothly. My train arrived in Newcastle at 1.33pm giving me about half an hour to wait for Roger and Gordon’s train to arrive from Carlisle. Finding our Travelodge was a different story however. The map we had was small and not very detailed and, of course, we made the wrong choice. My memory from a visit two years ago kicked in and I recognised a flight of steps that I had used during that visit. Unfortunately, I hadn’t remembered how far down they went and ended up leading my little group down endless flights of stone steps!
Checked in and ‘scrubbed up’ ready for the evening, we made our way up to City Hall to familiarise ourselves with it’s layout. For now though it is locked up with no sign of activity and no tour bus, there is a small group of autograph hunters already propping up the stage door so we walked quickly past and went in search of food, choosing a Frankie and Bennie’s close by.
We had just about finished our meal when we are joined by Steve H. and we whiled away some time over coffee before returning to City Hall, where we found Graham waiting. Our party of five is now complete. We are pleased to discover that the tour bus has now arrived.
At this point we are allowed only into the bar area until the auditorium is opened at 7pm. It has been suggested that there were a lot of empty seats, although it did look fairly full and Stephanie from Raven confirmed that it also looked that way from the stage when we spoke to her after the concert.
Initially, I had an isle seat but the very nice couple sat between Roger and I, upon realising that we were friends, happily agreed that I move up and they would take the two end of row seats. Shortly after though, it appeared they were in the wrong seats as another couple arrived to claim them! Amazingly, they also agreed I could remain where I was, so I was very grateful at having twice inherited a better seat!
And so to the concert itself. I’m not going to go into great detail now with so many concerts in this tour, all of which are going to be very similar. It would also spoil the experience for those yet to see Hayley during this tour if all the little chuckles and anecdotes that she uses are revealed beforehand. What I will say, though, is that this is an experience not to be missed. I cannot emphasise enough the “WOW” factor that is our Hayley on best form ever. She is magnificent and I lost count of the number of times that her singing sent shivers down my spine!
Before Hayley had completed the first a capella verse of Prayer, she had picked out Roger and I and, I suspect, probably also Gordon and Steve, she certainly caught sight of Steve as he took a photo during May It Be later in the concert.
We didn’t expect a signing, knowing that Hayley had to be back in London early morning, although it was suggested by one of the venue staff that she probably would have, had it not been for the time factor. We decided to walk round to the stage door and wait to see what happened. A small group of a dozen or so apart from us five gathered in the time that followed.
Tour manager Richard popped his head out to advise that Hayley would only have a very few minutes to spare tonight which gave Roger the opportunity to ask if anyone from Raven could spare a few minutes. A little while later, Stephanie came out and chatted for a while.
Eventually the rest of Raven plus Andy and Al appeared, followed eventually by Hayley who happily chatted in the very cramped space between the stage door and the tour bus, signed a few programmes and posters and posed for a few pictures. I grabbed a few shot of Hayley and Raven and we managed a few quick words with Hayley before they were all shepherded into the bus ready for departure. By this time, I think it was Kirsty, began showing us what DVD’s they had brought along to keep them occupied during the journey. She also tried to take our photo from inside the bus! They were clearly having a great time and we were all pleased that we are beginning to get to know the Raven girls.
It is beginning to rain as we wave them off with good wishes for a safe journey. Luckily, Steve has his car so, saying our goodbye’s to Graham we pile in and head back to the Travelodge where I have a bottle of New Zealand red waiting to help us unwind from a fantastic evening of Hayley (and Raven’s music)
Wow, great photos. Thanks Steve. The effects of the different lighting are interesting. I think it is almost impossible to get the white balance right r consistent at concerts, although leaving it as it is provides some dramatic effects.
The effects of the different lighting are interesting. I think it is almost impossible to get the white balance right r consistent at concerts, although leaving it as it is provides some dramatic effects.
It would not be right to adjust the white balance, it would distort what we actually witnessed, the lighting for the 'red' photo's was extremely red! and what you see here is exactly what we saw last night.