Thats it from the concert I am afraid, as I said the lighting was very poor for photography!
However I have some excellent ones from after the concert and will be posting the majority of them during this week, I am flying to Scotland tomorrow morning early so I better get some beauty sleep soon!
Right, before I start on the photos here is a bit more of a chronological review. Thank you for your review Grant, it is an excellent account, so all I have to do is fill in with a few bits of my (and Sue's) story.
Hearing Hayley sing in a great cathedral has long been an ambition of mine. I could just imagine how the acoustics of such a place would complement her voice. The very though of it sent shivers down my spine.
So imagine my joy when I heard about the Winter Magic tour. I had to bee there, and at one point there was talk AF Shrewbury Abbey on my birthday, but that was cancelled. Whilst I was deliberating about which of the WM concerts we should go to, another date was added to the list - Peterborough Cathedral.
This is one I know well, I was born and grew up in Peterborough, and know what a wonderful venue this is. Also, it was 2 days after my 65th birthday. No doubt then, this was made for me.
And so it was, that on a rainy Monday morning in November, Sue and I set off by car for the 41 mile drive to Peterborough. Our first stop was my mum's flat, stopping on the way to pick up fish and chips. We devoured these in Mum's flat, before I made the ten minute walk from there to the Cathedral, still resplendent in its scaffolding. Sue, who cannot stand for too long because of her arthritis, decided to stay at Mums. Incidentally, whilst she was there sh saw Camilla Kerslake on the Alan Titchmarsh Show. She said she was not that impressed, Camilla was a girl with long blonde hair and too much red lipstick, who vocally is not on the same planet as Hayley, in fact Sue said she prefers Susan Boyle. Walking onto the space in front of the West Door, I saw a lonely figure waiting outside thatmaterialised into Grant as I approached. I had half expected Hayley to be there already, after all it was about 2.30 and Hayley tweeted that she was on her way just after 11am. She might well have been there, but we were unsure which entrance she would use and it is a very big building to keep watch on. So we walked in, and soon we saw a crew setting up the stage. And stated to recognise some of them, Andy Moore an then Raven appeared and started setting up. Soon, Raven started playing, and we were soon joined by Steve H. I was reminded of what a talented quartet they are. At one point we heard a beautiful, familiar voice echoing round the far end of the Cathedral. "Hayley" said Grant. She sounded fantastic already, and I knew then that we were in for something very special indeed. Raven went through parts of their repertoire, and eventually Hayley appeared. These sound checks are fascinating, and give us a feel of how much effort goes into getting things right. And Hayley was her perfectionist self, insisting on repeating certain things time and again, tinkering with the sound balance until she was satisfied that they were right. I don't think it can be correct form to clap at a sound check, although I wanted to on several occasions, and once we actually did, which elicited a "Thank You" from Hayley. It must be quite hard to get the sound right, especially as the acoustic is different in a nearly empty building to one that is filled with an audience. As Grant said it was quite late, getting on for 5pm before the sound check was finished, and we left, Grant and Steve in search of food, and me to walk back to Mum's, pick up Sue and move the car into a car park, since they close the gates at Mum's sheltered flats. I would have been able to get the car out, but getting in to collect the car would have been a problem. In the event we found a car park on Bishops Road that is free after 5pm. How convenient! So we walked through the rain to the Cathedral. Grant, Steve, Paddy and Karsten were already waiting at the front of the queue. Sue didn't fancy standing for an hour, so gave me my ticket, said "save me a seat" and repaired to the coffee shop just outside the cathedral grounds. Eventually as Grant says, once Evensong had finished, we were let in to get the back of the queue out of the rain. Then we were able to get good seats in the third row, the first two being reserved. The minister who opened the proceedings said that it was amazing that "some people had been waiting since 6 O'clock". If only he had known! Steve and Kirsten were nominated as official photographers and sat at either side of the aisle, the rest of s were in more restricted positions. I haven't looked at my photos and attempted videos yet, but will hopefully have something to post. Not the vids yet though, I don't think it would be fair to post any videos until the tour is complete. Sue got to us eventually and occupied the seat we had saved her, clutching a copy of the tour programme, which is very glossy and costs 4 pounds. Noticing the list of credits on the back, HWI is mentioned among those to whom special thanks are given. We are famous!!
There were a large number of candles around the stage, which were lit before the start of the show. This was lovely, but a nightmare for photographers. Perhaps that's why the photos are slow coming.
Grant has described most of the show, but I would like to add my impressions. Every song was wonderful, everyone a highlight that you could listen too forever. But of course they all come to an end.
Veni Veni Emmanuel - Wonderfully atmospheric opener. If you had asked me which song from the album I though she should open with, I would have picked this one.
The Little Drummer Boy Beautiful rendition of this classic song.
The Christmas Song (AKA Chestnuts Roasting on an open fire - I love the sound of Hayley's voice on this one, so strong and sweet.
Then, raven did a set, after which Hayley come back with
Ave Maria (Caccini) - One we know well, but no less beautiful because of that.
The Little Road to Bethlehem - A lively and enjoyable little song that is the first rack on the Japanese Winter Magic album.
Corpus Christi Carol - Now the mood changes to serious, beauty that sends shiver down the spine, and then
The Coventry Carol - song with the choir and no microphones. An absolute stunner. I have long held the view that the less that comes between the listener and Hayley the better she sounds. Sometimes, if near the front of a theatre for example, you can hear Hayley's voice directly rather than through the sound system. And I'm sure her direct voice sounds better And that view was reinforced again here. She seemed to have plenty of power in her voice, and could easily be heard above the choir. And although I was not at the back of the audience, I think they would have heard her and the choir well too - such is the acoustic of that place. The Peterborough Young Singers were excellent, and made a lovely contribution to this magical performance. They can justifiably feel proud.
There was then a 15 minute interval. Then the show resumed with Raven, followed by Hayley coming on in her red "Wembley" dress, and having apologised for her lack of prowess as a pianist (no need to apologize Hayley, you were fine) sat at the keyboard and accompanied herself on River Wonderful.
I Know |You By Heart - the song made famous by Eva Cassidy. I had heard this sung live only two weeks before by Zoe Tyler, who played Eva in the show "Over the Rainbow" which was a very powerful and emotional performance from a clearly very ill Eva, and wonderfully performed by Zoe.. Hayley, for me, quite simply blew her out of the water. She gets real pain and poignancy into this song. Eva's version comes across as wistful reminiscence, Hayley's version is much more powerful and intense. Fabulous, and I'm glad she included it,, even if it has nothing to do with Christmas (actually the word "Winter" does appear in the lyric).
Oh Holy Night - WOW. I love this, and I was fighting back tears when she sang it during the sound check. Hayley always makes this sound fabulous, and her face seems to shine as she sings it. Wonderful! Another song I'm glad she included.
Sleigh Ride - Hayley played her second instrument of the night, the sleigh bells, on this one. Unfortunately it went a bit wrong, at one point Hayley seemed to forget where she was, but managed to recover. I think we can forgive her that on a first night, I'm sure it won't happen again and to quibble over something like that would be very unfair, considering what a wonderful show it was. Sue got to talk to Andy Moore (guitar) after the show (whilst the rest of us were busy photographing Hayley), who told her he too lost track at that point, so there was confusion all round.
Peace Shall Come - Another blockbuster, a new Christmas carol written by Hayley (in the summer she said) which is very much a pop song. I love it!
Love Come Down at Christmas - is not on the album, but Hayley sang it beautifully.
And that was it! except for the encore Silent Night - She always sings this beautifully, and tonight was no exception.
Afterwards, Hayley did some signing at the back of the cathedral, before leaving, we thought to go to Ripon, but Sue says Andy had told her they were heading back to London. In any case, we heard next day that there had been some problem with the lights on their minibus, and it sounds like they lost some sleeping time.
So, Grant says this was the best Hayley concert ever. And he should know, since perhaps only Hayley has been to more of them. Do I agree?
It probably depends on how I phrase it. I have a very soft spot for my first ever Hayley concert, when I didn't know what to expect and was blown away in seconds. But that was when Hayley was 16, and she has certainly improved hugely singe then, her voice is stronger and more beautiful, and she has learned to get more from it. And the acoustics of the building, and the beauty of the surroundings made it very special too. So yes, Grant is probably right, I don't remember enjoying any concert so much for a very long time.
Thank you for your report and for reminding me about Hayley's 'private and personal' sound check in the depths of the cathedral's north transept - I had completely forgotten that!
Just to clarify a couple of points; there is at least one person who has attended more concerts than me because I know Roger is well into his 70's err... I mean he's been to over 70 Hayley concerts OK?
I think I said that last night was the best concert ever 'musically'. I think "firsts" will always hold a special place in ones heart as do those that have some other personal significance. They certainly do for me. But you said it yourself in a tweet - Hayley justs gets better and better. The combination of that; the choice of songs and the cathedral atmosphere were close to perfection.