The Concert Report Part One :2fun: You don't have to read it
Firstly thanks to Paddy and Karsten for their company and the goodies they thoughtfully brought me from the Valentines tour and the River of Dreams tour Concerts. I was unable to attend any of these concerts as several members of my family were ill or in hospital.
I arrived in Bangor "Eh-um" very early on Saturday morning and being the only thing moving on the street I was given a welcome by the local RUC (Police) men, a quick breathalyser test, which I passed and a brief interrogation as to my intentions and I was on my way again, The RUC men were quite friendly and indicated to me the only shop open was a tiny one selling soft drinks and snacks through a hatch on the front, A bottle of a famous soft drink and I cruised around Bangor to get an idea of where the guesthouse was in relation to the Elim Centre and just drove around mainly just to stay warm. Eventually one of the petrol stations opened and I got myself a selection of breakfast bars. Went back to the Elim Centre where the auditorium doors were open and had a quick chat with David at the sound mixers about the times of the sound check, took a few photos of the interior and headed back to Bangor.
Check in time at the guest house was not until 12:30 but I went there early and promptly fell asleep in the car with the early morning sunshine blazing down on me, A good omen, Hayley does seem to bring good weather with her, like at Belfast, Derry and Limerick. I did eventually check in about an hour early and left a message for Karsten and Paddy to call me when they arrived and I promptly fell asleep again.
Karsten, Paddy and myself went back to the Elim Centre to greet Hayley & Co when they arrived and in the hope of getting an earful of the sound check. We waited some of the time in the car listening to Hayley as it was quite cold outside and some of the time just walking the perimeter of the venue. I was pleased when the car arrived with a radiant and healthy looking Hayley smiling in the back seat, her recent illness had worried and concerned me, I was happy to see her looking so well.
I am not quite sure who told us we could come in for a few minutes to chat with Hayley for just a short while as the sound check had to be done. But suddenly we were inside the Elim centre, Hayley was strolling about surveying the stage where she would perform later that evening. Karsten and Paddy seemed to know some of the others from the previous concerts, the only person I recognised was Hayley, We had a few brief words and I made no attempts at photos or autographs, It was just so good to hear Hayley sounding and looking so well and ready to sing again. I always think afterwards of the things I should have said like : " Thank you, your music has brought great joy and light into my life " and for the life of me I cannot remember what I did say ? Within five minutes we were outside again and waiting for the sound check to start. Hayley's voice could be heard quite clearly at the side door, so we stayed there and listened. I was thrilled to hear Now is The Hour and Songbird being done, and Never saw Blue and then I heard I know You By Heart and Nemu No Ki by Hayley for the first time.. Eugene phoned us and asked us to join them at a nearby hotel for dinner, But I wouldn't have missed the sound check for anything. But after the sound check finished we happily headed off to a nearby shopping centre for a bite to eat.
" 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
We arrived back with plenty of time to spare to be first in the queue to get in at 6:45 when the doors were to open, Parked within view of the front doors of the Elim Centre in their substantial and FREE car parking area and waited and chatted and listened to more Hayley on the car stereo. Eventually a couple of ladies appeared and started the queue, so we hopped out and joined them in the wait for the doors to open. Many of the ladies from the Bangor Ladies Choir arrived and were let in by the security persons on the door, the car park began to fill up and we were joined on the queue by Eugene and his party of three. It was getting quite cold and the wind was just cutting through our coats and the two ladies at the front of the queue persuaded the security people to let us in to the foyer out of the cold. Inside we bought programmes for the evenings entertainment. I gave mine to Karsten to mind as he had a bag that would prevent them being creased. There were no allocated seats so it was first in best seated, Much of the front row was "RESERVED" for dignitaries, politicians and the musicians families etc. I eventually joined Paddy in the second row at more or less centre stage.
A little after 7:30 the concert started. I had not read the Programme ?? After five lovely pieces by the Choir I was starting to think Hayley was only going to sing a couple of "Guest" numbers, the Choir started on their sixth piece Muss I Den and I am really getting anxious.
Then their leader introduces "Miss Hayley Westenra".....Wow am I relieved...... Hayley starts off on Prayer..There is a bit of feedback through the PA and Hayley hardly bats an eyelid, she just carries on, It takes the audio boys a while to figure out it is probably the choirs open microphones that are picking up Hayley's beautiful clear tones and sending them round in circles to become "Feedback"... The elderly lady beside me has a hearing aid on and it also starts to run amok like an air raid siren. The boys at the mixing desk soon get things under control and normal service resumes..
Sorry folks, I don't notice the dress, I don't notice the shoes, I don't notice anything else, I am just entranced and mesmerised by the sound, completely focused on what I am hearing..........and all is well with the world..
I slip into "Completely Enchanted Mode" and Scarborough Fair, The Water is Wide and Songbird slip by like a beautiful dream, This is the first time I have heard Hayley sing this gorgeous Christine McVie song live and it just dismantles my soul and devastates me with it's beauty, with Hayley's voices beauty, the interpretation and emotion is like being run over by a truck....must breathe....eyes sting...... I have always loved Christine's version of Songbird more than Eva Cassidy's and I realise Hayley is leaving the stage again.....and I have just heard the best version of Songbird ever..........
Sorry folks, I don't notice the dress, I don't notice the shoes, I don't notice anything else, I am just entranced and mesmerised by the sound, completely focused on what I am hearing..........and all is well with the world.. I slip into "Completely Enchanted Mode" and Scarborough Fair, The Water is Wide and Songbird slip by like a beautiful dream, This is the first time I have heard Hayley sing this gorgeous Christine McVie song live and it just dismantles my soul and devastates me with it's beauty, with Hayley's voices beauty, the interpretation and emotion is like being run over by a truck....must breathe....eyes sting...... I have always loved Christine's version of Songbird more than Eva Cassidy's and I realise Hayley is leaving the stage again.....and I have just heard the best version of Songbird ever..........
I echo Grant's sentiments. I love the "completely enchanted mode" phrase. It's an awesome and humbling experience when you hear someone so good and realise you're in the presence of greatness. And it's weird how it seems she's singing just for you...
I'm glad you had such a great evening - I'm seeing her at Bournemouth tonight so I hope to share your experiences.
I don't leave the auditorium at the break, I just got a bottle of water. I needed it !
The Bangor Ladies Choir come back on and do four songs, They are great, but I'd rather be listening to Hayley.. Hayley comes back on stage entering from the front steps as the dressing rooms are not off the stage sides like a theater. Hayley launches into Pokarekare Ana bringing back memories of the first time I ever heard her sing live way back in the National Concert Hall in Dublin in December 2007. I slip back into Enchanted mode, this is my ice cream, my chocolate, my purely personal pleasure, my favourite thing, bliss, I am in heaven....... and then it gets even better ....... Hayley launches into Never Saw Blue......another first for me, apart for the bit I heard in the soundcheck....Please don't ever let it stop .....let it go on forever..... Then I Know You By Heart, Another first for me, I have it on an Eva Cassidy cd somewhere but I am not familiar with it...... I hope I will be soon....on a Hayley Cd.
The banter with the audience is getting easier for Hayley, She has some water and says (About addictions , Implied) "Could be worse" she asks for "Any Joni Mitchell fans and I wave a hand, she counts a few more hands and says " Is that all, shame on you" and giggles , says her usual piece about Both Sides Now and off I go , back to heaven.
Shenandoah follows, I would gladly listen to the 100 verse version but Hayley only does three.
Hayley : "I have an idea, I hope you are going to enjoy this next song...It's eh a little bit random.but eh..giggles.. .I'm actually about to go out to Japan in a weeks time, I'm going to be out there for a month of touring, I spend quite a bit of time out there and I've made a couple of albums just for Japan, Both albums are actually mainly Japanese songs sung in English, Not all in Japanese, Thank goodness, But on this last album I made I actually did sing one in Japanese and I think it's really, really a beautiful song, and so I thought I would do it for you here tonight, It was actually , the lyrics were written by the now Empress Mitchi Ko (Not sure of the spelling ) and she wrote these lyrics as a lullaby when she was in High School and then to celebrate the birth of her second child, the lyrics were put to music by a composer and the song is called Nemu No Ki..................the piano sounds............. Hayley sings..
I have no idea what the lyrics are but they sound beautiful anyway, Japanese words sounding all the more mystical because to me, they could mean anything.
Then comes the very familiar Hine E Hine, I'm in my element..The lone violin is particularly heart rending..and the gentle piano.
Hayley checks with the Choir leader Joan Houston if she is to introduce the "NEXT ONE" and informs us the bagpipes can only play in E flat and describes the first time she recorded this song she could hardly hear herself singing.
Hayley looks to her left with her hand extended outwards and out of the darkness you hear the first notes of Amazing Grace on the bagpipes played by Phil Neill, This is something to hear at close range indoors, Then Hayley sings the first verse a capella and it is just beautiful, just one voice and no other sound, you could hear a pin drop, then the choir joins in on " T'was grace that taught my heart to ............". then the piano on simple single notes and the bagpipes again.. and the piper exits stage right into the darkness.. This has been a very special performance......I am glad I was there....
Hayley tells us the next song is the last one and tells us about Gracie Fields in 1945 discovering the Maori song Po Atarau and having a huge hit with it as Now Is The Hour in 1948.
I love this song, It makes me feel safe and warm and cosy, My father and my uncle used to play this tune in a guitar club in Dublin in the fifties before I was even born, I probably heard it a lot in my first few years , perhaps even before I was born. He heard me playing Hayley's version in the car and told me about him playing it so long ago.., I never knew that before !
Pö atarau E moea iho nei E haere ana Koe ki pämamao
Haere rä Ka hoki mai anö Ki i te tau E tangi atu nei
I have to breathe deeply while this is playing, It just stirs up so many old memories and my eyes sting again.............This is just magic !
Hayley and the choir and the musicians get a standing ovation... Hayley is presented with flowers.. and after another round of applause Hayley thanks the audience several times in that lovely Kiwi manner of hers and asks if we would like another song ? goes to the piano and says " Now I did actually forget to try the piano out in sound check, so eh ..so I'm hoping this works... I'm not going to pretend to be piano player or anything.. This song was written in Newfoundland, you may know it ... It's called Sonny "......and so the last song of the evening plays.. the one to go home humming...... Thank you Hayley .....It has been a wonderful day.....
Another great round of applause for Hayley, Hayley and Joan thank the audience once again.......another round of applause and then the chatter of the audience is the only sound remaining.
Sorry folks, I don't notice the dress, I don't notice the shoes, I don't notice anything else, I am just entranced and mesmerised by the sound, completely focused on what I am hearing..........and all is well with the world.. I slip into "Completely Enchanted Mode" .....
I know exactly how you feel.
Best wishes Grant
This is easily diagnosed as acute Hayleywowness for which there is no known cure. Over the years Scientists have failed to develop a suitable vaccine or antidote despite taking blood samples from various sufferers of this condition and studying the gene make-up.
Once infected there is no hope of recovery and it is recommended that the patient continues to attend Hayley concerts and to listen to Hayley cds to avoid distressing withdrawal symptoms.
Absolutely marvelous part 3 report, Comet. Thank you for the time for that and thank you Richard for your input on the score. I realy must unpack my late father's clarinet and use that score to see if i still remember how to play it!
Her eyes were the blue of cornflowers that dance amongst ripening wheat, Her hair the colour of golden sands bleached by summer's heat.
Paddy and myself gathered up our bit and pieces and chatted briefly with Eugene and Mary before heading up to the reception area. Paddy disappeared somewhere and I stood with Karsten a while. It looked as though they were setting up for a signing with a small podium and some background banners for the venue. I was glad this was not to be "another outdoor signing" as if Hayley had not had enough of these in the last few months... Downright uncivilised of the venues not to provide some facility with some level of comfort for Hayley, to meet with her fans after the concert, After all they were happy enough to take the revenue..
Soon enough Hayley emerged in civvies with a great big smile and a welcome for the gathered fans ( Including politicians and other dignitaries) who had various items to be signed or just to have a photo taken with Hayley. It is always a pleasure to watch and listen to Hayley chatting to people after a concert, signing items and posing for pictures with people. I love that Kiwi friendliness and politeness, Just charming..almost as good as the concert itself.. I had one very special item I really wanted signed, a rather rare promo of Mary Did You Know as it was the first song I ever heard of Hayley's, Yep ! Hayley did it ! without prompting Hayley asked if I wanted it with my name on it...? Ha ! ..Do little boys like Ice cream . ?...... I Thanked Hayley with a big dopey grin....What a day...what a star.......... There's a scan in the promo section on HWI. I had several items for signing but only got two more signed as there was a substantial queue behind me and I didn't want to delay Hayley further. I also wanted to get a few photos for posterity and for you lot on the forums. I did promise a few exclusive photos to the official forum as I feel they are sadly neglected and after all are the first point of contact for many of Hayley's newly arriving fans.. Karsten and myself just stood around taking photos, which explains why neither of us are in any of them.. Irish Hayley Fan appeared at some point here, Karsten went to the car to get a poster for signing.. he likes to wait until last to be with Hayley in peace... good move.. We wish Hayley well on the Japanese tour and say goodbye again.
Irish Hayley Fan, Karsten, Paddy and myself stand around the front entrance in the light rain yapping about things in general, the car park slowly clears, The van lies open waiting for the piano to go to it's next destination, Hayley passes across the reception area back into the auditorium, where their car is waiting at the stage door, We call out further goodbyes and wave to the small group as the car swings away and slows to an almost complete stop to go over the ramp. we wave again and the car disappears into the night.....
we chat a while longer, I drive with Karsten and Paddy back to our B & B to dump the car and walk down to Bangor's waterfront in the rain for a couple of well deserved pints of the black stuff, We spend a while in a "Disco Bar" with hits from the seventies being played loudly by a rather senior DJ, I'm in my element here too..... There's hope for me yet....
A perfect end to a perfect day..........It's been a pleasure.