Salivation Army salutes its king as Ball rolls into town

~ by William Verity ~

If MIchael Ball - the tenor with the god-given voice - ever feels the need for the company of an older woman, he will be spoiled by choice.

He is followed across the globe by an army of mostly middle-aged women who are willing to go to great lengths to hear his voice, admire his boyish good looks, and - with the ease of one groupie yesterday - run both her hands through his golden curls.

The 41-year-old singer performed at the WIN Entertainment Centre last night in front of thousands of fans and at least 100 members of his own Barmy Army.

They are women of a certian age who follow Ball wherever he sings, from Britain, Sweden, the United States and New Zealand.

"We are totally barmy. I have seen him 11 or 12 times and I have come here from New Zealand to see him," Kiwi fan Jean Wilson said.

She was one of a crowd of 20-diehard fans who queued by the centre's stage door yesterday afternoon to catch a glimpse of their idol as he arrived in a stretched white limo.

He exchanged a few words and was due to exchange a few more at the post-concert cocktail party for 100 serious groupies who forked out $ 175 for the platinum package.

"He is just a beautiful human being." Anne Bryant, a platinum fan from Melbourne, said.

she recounted proudly how she was the first fan to greet the singer on his first trip to the country a few years back.

"He filmed me for his own home video," she said with pride.

Perhaps the best explanation for the devotion displayed by the latest Barmy Army to hit our shores is expressed in the title of a song sung by the Man: Everybody needs somebody to love.

That somebody - last night at least - was Michael Ball. No Question.

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