Ditto. The Bridgewater Hall must hold some pretty traumatic memories for Hayley. But, brave girl that she is, I'm sure she will overcome them and give you all a fine performance. Enjoy, as I'm sure you will!!
I am currently picturing the troop of 'HWI' ers to be gathering by the glass doors at the rear of the Manchester Bridgewater Hall - just like we all did the last time Hayley performed there on her final performance of the "Winter Pure" Tour on Monday 22nd November 2004... I can't believe it was as long ago as that - it seems like yesterday in some ways!
"This is an historic moment..." (as John Cleese once said in the film "Clockwise" from 1986) here
Hi Everyone, Torville Grant & Dean here... Yes Andrew, we did sample a few glasses of vino last night following the concert while we reviewed the latest set of photos (more to come later..) however it was getting a little too late to locate the internet connection in the hotel.
We will both be back home later today and will post full reports then. Hayley was excellent and on top-form.
More to come! (Don't forget to ask Grant about "Box 9" )
I left home just after 9-40, a quick stop to pick up petrol and then on the road to Manchester. I put the Radio on, it is tuned to Classic fm and I am greeted with Pokarekare Ana and the news Pure has re-entered at number 19 ….. I new it was going to be a good day. i.postimg.cc/9fYxy370/smilie-big-grin.gif A good run down to my chosen park and ride between Rochdale and Oldham…..chosen as it had a late last train back. .The train shuttle to Manchester Victoria took 20 mins and then as the Metro was included in the ticket ( a great value £3-00 return with free parking ) I hoped on one to the Gmex stop and walked the rest. I was there by 12-45. Still there were some nice benches at the back of the theatre and a large pond with fountain so a nice Picnic followed. However the Spring weather at home had not reached Manchester! I decided to retreat to the Theatre coffee shop which was open as there was an afternoon Indian Music performance in another small theatre room. I had seen Hayley’s sound equipment van was already there and they were setting up the main venue. The time soon pasted until the time arranged to meet Dean and Grant and we waited to see Hayley arrive. We used the the time talking about mainly Hayley related topics. Winter had returned with a cold wind, well it was Manchester ! A bit later than expected Hayley’s mini-bus arrived and not realising the temperature change between London and Manchester Hayley leaped out to great us and sign some autographs before she was prompted to get her coat from the bus ! ::)She happily chatted for a few minutes and the left with a cheery wave and ‘see you later guys’ i.postimg.cc/9fYxy370/smilie-big-grin.gif Grant and Dean had found a good 'eating house' close to the venue on their last visit so that was another hour used usefully ! i.postimg.cc/9fYxy370/smilie-big-grin.gif Back to the theatre foyer and we soon saw the small trailer with all the CD’s for sale arriving. These were set up on two tables and we were slightly surprised to see copies of the 2004 DVD Hayley Live in New Zealand on sale for £18-00… .. But not as surprised as later when they had sold out !.... . Food for thought there ! I got one of Raven’s CD’s in case they had sold out later, we noticed one of the boxes had an interesting written message…. See Grant’s photo’s to follow. Our group gradually increased, Andy and his friend Steve. Brid and Dennis arrived and some enjoyable chats ensued. The doors opened at 7-00 and Bill soon found us to complete those we expected. Grant was well prepared with a printed song list ( from the Pre Christmas venues ) he was not expecting to have to change it much , well not quite so well prepared as he had not brought a pen ! I lent him mine which saved me the task of having to write the list completely….. So Grant is the post for the song list ! The first half finished all to soon Hayley was on top form with some banter with the crowd ! The biggest difference I noticed was how much more confident Raven were since I had seen them in Newcastle . A brief HWI meeting at the interval and then the second half with even more banter ! Only one encore Hine e Hine and all too quickly it was over. I am getting used to magnificent performances from Hayley she puts so much into each song the normal for her is exceptional. We knew Raven were doing a signing session after and Hayley was going to leave the stage for them but we had arranged the ‘same place same time ‘ meet for later. When I saw that Raven were happily signing all that was put infront of them I dug deep into my wallet and bought another two CD’s and got all three dedicated and signed…. One for Morag one for her best Violin pupil, now at ‘The Welsh College of Music’; and one for another Music teacher friend ! This done we glanced back to see most of the stock had sold with the odd few been packed away. On to the stage door and a 50 mins wait until Hayley arrived.. There must have been about 25 or so waiting, and Hayley signed and posed happily for photo’s and eventually was about to leave at 10-50. Time was now tight for my last train ! So a few quick farewells and I decided to ‘ leg it ‘ to the station as waiting for a Metro could be a disaster. Considering I was only ‘ following my nose’ I did well to make the station with a couple of minutes to spare. The last train was ‘standing room only’ and reminded me of packed London Tube trains except this had ‘party clad youngsters’ the worse for drink ! An interesting ride back I got to get to my car by midnight. The only problems on the way back was a closed slip road, so I had to go one junction in the wrong direction, and then fog over Saddleworth Moor. However I made good time and got home just after 2-00 am. A quick post then a good sleep.
A civilised start time saw me logging off at 10.30 and heading for the station. It’s a ‘football Saturday’ with police and supporters everywhere. Luckily most are off to the local match in Nottingham and I only have to put up with a few Stoke supporters on the first leg of my journey on a smelly and noisy single car diesel train.
I’m feeling much more content on the smooth riding electric ‘Pendolino’ that whisks me effortlessly and quietly towards Manchester at more that one hundred miles an hour.
I met up with Dean at Piccadilly station and we head for our hotel which is situated on ‘Back Piccadilly’. Now, if that conjures up images of a squalid narrow street, you’d be right on the button! Luckily the hotel isn’t quite that bad, although their card reader is broken so both Dean and I have to return to the street to get cash. Not a particularly good start.
The hotel is a bit shabby and run down but at least the rooms are clean and warm. We don’t intend to hang about as we are planning to meet Graham by the stage door at around 3pm. I delay proceedings having failed to work out how to lock my room door. A trip down to reception solves the problem and we are on our way.
Graham is already there when we arrive, along with another chap who I remember from November who is a steward at the hall, although tonight he is ‘sitting in’. We chat away merrily, trying to ignore the cold wind and while away the time to when we will see the minibus come into view.
This afternoon they are a bit later than usual as Dave initially heads in the wrong direction, eventually arriving outside the stage door at twenty past four, by which time I’m feeling pretty frozen. Funny though, how all that is forgotten at the thought of greeting Hayley.
Dean thought he saw some ‘high fives’ from the girls as they approached, were they having bets as to who may be awaiting their arrival – bet Hayley guessed closest!!
Hayley is out of the bus very quickly, once again with Sharpie already to hand. Initially wearing only short sleeved tee-shirt and jeans, the stage doorman, quite correctly I thought, seeing the small group waiting, and now aware that Hayley was going to spend a few minutes chatting, suggested she get a jacket, at which point she disappeared back into the bus, reappearing a few minutes later wearing her short red coat.
She seemed very happy to see everyone and I managed a few pictures whilst she signed a few items and chatted. This is one of my favourites.
Now feeling as warm as toast, it’s time to consider our options and the decision is taken to return to “Table Table” where Dean and I had eaten last time. Once again we were impressed and spent our time eating and considering what the evening may hold.
I had been worried that memories of November may bring out a few emotions when Hayley arrived this time, but I realised that I hadn’t thought about it once whilst we were at the stage door so I hope Hayley has been able to do the same.
Now six o’clock, I suggested we make our way back to Bridgewater Hall to see what is happening there and that’s just what we did ……
More later when the mystery of ‘Box 9’ will be revealed.
We arrived back at Bridgewater Hall a few minutes after leaving the restaurant. There are only a few patrons circling the vast concourse at this time but very soon, the familiar face of Driver/Tour manager Dave appears with a small cart in tow, containing boxes of books, CD’s video’s and programmes. I offer to help unload but it seems it is all arranged so we wander over to see what is on offer.
It’s at this point that we notice a particular box –
It would seem to suggest that someone has been having a bit of fun on the box which, I think, contained Hayley's current autobiography.
A closer look
reveals what appears to be “Hales” although it doesn’t look like Hayley's handwriting. Lower down it looks as though someone has been trying to copy Hayley's signature. Guess we now know what they all get up to while they’re stuck in the minibus for hours on end.
Gradually our party swells in number as we are joined by Andy and his friend and later Brid and Den. Once inside the auditorium ‘lurker’ Bill came to find us and we chatted until it is time for the concert to start.
I have an excellent seat, just right of centre stage. The lights go down and the musicians come onto stage to healthy applause, followed by our beautiful Hayley. Tonight wearing the knee length black dress she wore for the ‘Iron Man’ premier, complete with black platform shoes. A stunning outfit and one I have not seen her wear on stage before.
As she approaches centre stage where the microphone is, err should be! Realisation dawns, nothing in her hands – she looks at the audience and grins, then turns to Tim at the piano with empty raised hands “Ah! No microphone! Tim hurries off to fetch her one. No drama, just a giggle and Hayley is ready and completely unflustered.
There are some obvious changes to the set list. “Prayer” is still the opening number but Caccini’s “Ave Maria” has gone with “Scarborough Fair” next followed by “The Water Is Wide” and “Songbird”
Raven’s set was the same except the final piece was “Fire Dance” replacing “Danse Macabre” Raven always seem to get a very well deserved and enthusiastic reception and this evening was no exception. They certainly are gaining in confidence as Graham previously noticed
Hayley now returned to stage with “The Mummer’s Dance” The audience is very enthusiastic for Hayley too with whistles of appreciation and several bouts of banter which Hayley seems to enjoy. “May it Be” came next and I think several of us got picked out as she asked who knew The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy. I think I was closest to Hayley so got the first pointed finger of recognition. Back now to the original set list with “Shenandoah” (“There’s 100 verses and the doors are locked!”) and “Danny Boy” closing out the first half.
After the interval, Raven opened the second half with “Jealousy” followed by Natalie’s “Czardas/Godfather” arrangement – completely different pieces to last year but as per the Valentines concerts.
Now Hayley returns to stage in the lime green dress which she introduced to us at the beginning of the “River of Dreams” tour. The silver high heels are back which prompted Hayley to remark that we may have noticed that she was a couple of inches shorter!
With the mention of Eva Cassidy, I knew we were in for the treat that I personally had hoped for “I Know You By Heart” has to be one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard. I loved Hayley's version from the outset, but somehow it seems even better now. Don’t know if that’s me, or maybe Hayley is becoming more confident with it. Either way, her performance is very emotional for me.
“Never Saw Blue” is next, having been ousted from the first half and from hereon in, the set list follows the original pattern. When Hayley introduced “Pokarekare Ana” someone shouted from the stalls, but neither I nor Hayley caught what was said. She asked for it to be repeated but again didn’t catch it. “Just sing that song girl!” I heard very clearly and so did Hayley, but again, she didn’t seem to mind.
“River of Dreams” and the ever favourite “Sonny” followed after which Hayley left the stage to change whilst Raven played “Mrs Jamieson’s Favourite”. When Hayley returned to stage wearing her long black and gold gown, there were more appreciative whistles, allowing Hayley the opportunity for a bit of showing off and a few giggles “A girl has to have lots of dresses!”
The final set remained unchanged from November with “Santa Lucia”, “Both Sides Now” and a fantastic “Wuthering Heights”. Only one encore tonight, the ever faithful “Hine e Hine” Hayley leaving the stage with a wave and “Goodnight Manchester, you’ve been a fantastic audience”.
Once out of the concert hall I went to retrieve my camera from the cloakroom. Oh yes! No photography allowed tonight either – someone suggested that the announcement is made by one of the crew using a ‘put on’ voice. It’s certainly live because it’s never the same twice but I don’t recognise the voice.
Raven are doing the signing and have a table laid out for them. Dave has already told us that Hayley won’t be doing anything official and will be at least half an hour, also suggesting that we should go “to the usual place” It’s nice to hear that, they all know we’ll end up there anyway but it feels as though “It’s been approved!”
This will hopefully be a good opportunity to get some good shots of the Raven girls, particularly as I’ve yet to get a picture of Rachael that she approves of! Well I managed it! Showed her the image on the back of the camera and she seemed to think it’s OK. I think it’s a cracker and will hopefully post it with more pictures later on.
Time to head for the stage door. Now, I had been a little concerned about this exercise as the stage door is effectively in the hall’s private yard. It hadn’t been a problem when they arrived and it doesn’t look as though it will be a problem now. There are already a fair number of people waiting in an orderly line. Security have even set up a short barrier to keep things in order.
Hayley appeared just before 10.40 looking happy and as fresh as if she’d just arrived. I though at first security was going to be a problem as he hovered very close making photography very difficult. Maybe he was not familiar with how relaxed Hayley would be in this scenario because things relaxed after a few minutes and I managed a few decent pictures.
Everyone of our group made the stage door signing which was nice and Hayley gradually worked her way down to us. There are lots of hugs and smiles on the way and it really is good to see Hayley so obviously very happy.
I arranged to have another picture taken with Hayley and I think Bill, Andy and Dean captured the moment with me saying that they could take their time as I was quite happy where I was. Hayley giggled and made some comment about having a home to go to or another concert to prepare for. I can’t quite remember – think I was a bit “Hayleywowed” by then!
I did manage to say to Hayley how pleased I was that she had added “I Know You By Heart” to the set list which seemed to please her. Having spent almost 15 minutes attending to us all, and with only HWI left, it was time to go. At least that bitter wind had dropped.
We waited by the exit for them to depart, Hayley being the first to wave as they made their way out into the traffic and left us to make our way back to our hotel. Once inside, Dean fetched his laptop so we could look at our pictures and I opened a bottle of the red stuff. I think I got to bed just after 1.30am!
Wow, thanks Grant and Graham. I too am glad she included I Know you by Heart, Ive heard the mp3 from Reading and I loved it. It is immediately one of my favourites, and I would think quite a challenging song to sing - was this in place of Now is the Hour? I always felt she might move towards doing more of that kind of stuff, I love it.
Grant, your photo of Hayley is lovely, I was looking for a new recent picture of Hayley for a new wallpaper for my laptop and the choice is between that picture and Paddy's from Bradford.