Artisteer

Many aspects of Michael and all of them lovely

~ The Sun, 11/11/1997 by Paddy Clancy ~


SINGER'S HAVING A BALL IN DUBLIN.

I WARMED to singing star Michael Ball the moment we met.

As soon as I observed that it was a pity he didn't want to be photographed with a pint of Guinness we became mates.

"Who said that?", he asked. "Rubbish. What a lovely idea."

And Michael immediately ordered a pint of Ireland's favourite black brew for himself and a pint of beer for me.

His manager's eyes rolled heavenwards, his bid to prevent his star being seen with alcohol well and truly scuppered.

It seems 35-year-old Michael needed the hair of the dog. He admitted that he sank more than a few the night before in Belfast. Now he was planning an assault on Dublin's watering holes.

"What time do they close around here?" he wondered.

I could swear his smile broadened - and his manager winced - when I told him that if he was with the right people he needn't worry about closing time in Dublin.

Michael had been to the capital before, visiting friends. He knew it was a party city.

It's why he was glad to be back - and delighted he'll return again next month for his first concert in the city.

We drank a toast to that.

Michael wasn't living up to what I had been told about him. He was relaxed, carefree.

This couldn't possibly be the guy so concerned about his image that he once spent Pounds 4,000 on liposuction to remove the flab?

Quite right, it wasn't. That was more rubbish, he claimed. And to prove it he invited me to feel his spare tyre. It was there, alright.

The only money likely to have been spent on that department would have gone into bar tills.

He does work at keeping in trim - but not with the surgeon's help.

Michael, 13 stone-plus, told me: "I knock quite a few pounds off when I'm performing. I sweat like mad."

And, although he isn't at all keen on physical exercise, he still subjects himself to a rigorous keep-fit regime when he's about to go on tour.

He has a daily workout in the gym, mainly on the treadmill. He also takes part in aerobics "to keep the lungs breathing and the stamina up", does some weightlifting and runs about three miles a day.

Michael's only previous Irish performances have been two concerts in one day in Belfast - where he will also return.

As well as girlfriend Cathy McGowan, the sixties star with whom he shares a London home, he has a number of good Irish friends.

One is Colm Wilkinson, who starred with him in Les Miserables.

Mention of Wilkinson turns Michael almost deferential. "He has got the voice of God," he says. "I couldn't hold a candle to him."

And that from a singer whose performance in the musical Aspects Of Love brought him widespread acclaim and a hit song - Love Changes Everything.

The Chieftains, too, are his idols.

Michael recalled: "I was in Broadcasting House in London and walking past a studio where Gloria Hunniford had The Chieftains on her radio show as guests."

"When they spotted me they invited me in and then they asked if I knew Danny Boy.

"I didn't even know the words but they started playing and I started singing with Gloria writing the lyrics and handing them to me on bits of paper. It went really well."

Michael Ball is appearing in concert at The Point Depot, Dublin, on December 6.

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