We never felt more proud to be Michael Ball fans than we did last night. He fought a brave battle and won triumphantly. But let's start at the beginning.
We've never seen Brighton in sunshine before. It's incredibly beautiful. Moods lifted from the sunshine we arrived at the stage door, slightly panicky, but hopeful. Panicky, yes panicky, because, we must have been quite a sight just moments after we checked in, walking past Brighton Centre, where we saw a Michael poster with a huge note attached to it. "OH NO!" Our hearts stopped. We almost did not dare go near it. Figuring from the distance, whether the note could say "Tonight's concert cancelled!". It definitely read tonight. "Tonight: Tickets available" PHEEEEEEW, what a relief, scandal mind you, but a relief.
But back to stage door. His coach was there, which was good and musicians arrived, also good. Mind you, he'd always go for the sound check and try. Excitement mounted when the coach took off and arrived again some 20 minutes later. A large group of fans getting their cameras ready and Andrew sitting in the front seat. We were a bit lucky, because his tour manager stood right beside us and we got some vital information from him.
a) that Michael was poorly, but would still try to do the concert.... and
b) that he was not on the bus.
So when the doors opened and poor Andrew chose the very unwise opening line "I'm sorry to disappoint you all!" At least we did not suffer a heart attack. But Andrew was very sweet and told us Michael got in through a side entrance as Michael was not feeling very well and he hoped we'd understand. Of course we did. Andrew also assured us, the concert would happen, but we'd have to be extra supportive tonight, as Michael was a bit scared. We all promised.
What a relief for the hours being. It was a lovely stage door, even without seeing Michael. For once again, we met the most lovely people you could imagine. We love this tour, we really love it! From America, Australia and England of course. We always leave the stage door on a high!
We were in time to see Lucia. Quite remarkably, if you think we live two minutes from the venue (last time being so close, we were too late to see her, pathetic!). It was nice to see Lucia changed her song order a bit. So that was something new. "My funny Valentine" was really nice.
But then it was time. The battle was up. Michael and the audience against nerves, fear and panic. We were all holding our breath, when he started his first few lines. We were so scared for him. We would not mind, if his voice was not up 100 %, but he would. So we all hoped and prayed.
And there he was, smiling, performing and people who had not seen him before, would not have noticed anything. We could tell, he was being careful at certain moments, singing consciously, really thinking about what he was doing. It was fine, especially the big notes, he never had a problem with the big notes. You could tell his mind was constantly busy thinking about how to approach the next song, how to avoid too much damage to the vocal cords propably, because he actually said we were in Bournemouth. Gasp..... He quickly added it's so good to be back in Brighton, hoping no one heard. After the next song he said. "It's so good to be back in Edinburgh!" for compensation.
He struggled in "What love is for". But only for one note. You could still see the panic in his eyes, which was awful. He was fine afterwards. it was not till "You can get away with anything" though that he could relax and start to rely on his voice again. This song is sung in an operatic voice, which supports the vocal cords, as you have to apply a lot of technique. So only after that song his confidence was back and we all relaxed.
Oh and it has to be said, we all obeyed Andrew's plea for extra support. The audience was more than enthusiastic and he got two standing ovations. One after "This is the moment" and one after "Show must go on" (YAY!). Mi chael was visibly touched by the response after each song.
He was remarkably chatty. Either because talking was easier than singing or because we simply missed the last concerts and he addeded it back then. It was really funny when he told us, how it was trying to check in, trying to convince the receptionist in Count Fosco voice "It's not a rat it's a hamster!" (Actually this one killed one of the bunnies off even many songs later).
Anyway, not to get this review too long, we will be speaking about the changes (not in the song order or list!) within our next reviews.
To motivate Brighton to sing along to "Bread of heaven" he told the audience, the last time they were in Bournemouth and they think they have the better sea-front town. He does not, but they do. "Don't we just love pebbles?" (To explain this to people who don't know Brighton or Bournemouth: Brighton has a pebbly beach and Bournemouth a sandy beach).
"Show must go on" never felt as appropriate as this very night!
One of the most moving shows ever (for him and for us) ended with "You raise me up". He was VERY touched throughout the whole concert, but when he came out again for this song he was in tears! And you could tell through the first few lines, he had problems composing himself.
As we told him on a card later on, he deserves nothing, but our deepest respect for the display of courage and professionalism.
Just a quick note on the stage door. There were barriers up to protect him from the crowd (the best they could do actually!). Jonathan Butterell had been in tonight. Michael got out rather late and indicated that his throat hurt, but was really grateful for the response and admitted having been really nervous.
Thank you Michael!