Prom No 58 - 27/08/2007

by Rose-Marie Gazagnaire

Music was his first love…

…and it will be the last…

Which was, in my view, the point of the whole evening. Michael chose that song to close the concert, but it could have been a perfect opening as well.

Music, from all paths and horizons, as a reason to live and breath…whatever genre you turn to, classical, pop, jazz, soul, you name it, all rely on the same few notes on a stave to start with, don't they ?

And when somebody as talented as Michael bears such a larger-than-life love of music, there's no bound to what he can do or get his teeth into with success…as my dear Fosco would put it, he can get away with anything !!!

A while ago, I promised Julia and Kerstin a review of the evening for Justball. Now it feels very weird to review something that has been aired "live" both on TV and radio, and around the world via the Internet… it's like, God, what am I going to speak about now ???

Well, there's one thing left to speak about when you've been privileged enough to be there in person…the "live" experience, the atmosphere, the emotional side of it all…

The feeling of pride, the shared honour and thrill, the excitment building up by the minute until that very moment, when Michael took to the stage and the whole Royal Albert Hall was on their feet, clapping and cheering like never before… and suddenly it was like the whole weight and pressure of the evening had been taken off Michael's shoulders, he seemed to walk on air and gave us the kind of happy smile that's worth the whole trip alone…despite what must have been the most nerve-wracking wait ever in the wings, Michael sounded just incredible, the voice soaring with easy power and grace, "Stranger in Paradise" and "This Is My Beloved" were just out of this world…

The "Patience" number seeing Reginald Bunthorne admitting to being an "aesthetic sham" proved to be a hoot…those among us who had been lucky enough to see the show in New York were in stitches as memories flew back en masse …the others discovered that Michael had also a comical bone in his body and could sing Gilbert&Sullivan's quick-witted and wordy numbers with perfect diction and much gusto…a proper tour de force indeed…

Then came the most awaited duet with Alfie Boe, "Au Fond du Temple Saint", from Bizet's "The Pearl Fishers"…. I couldn't wait to hear it as it was to be sung in French! I was expecting Michael to sing the baritone part…what I didn't expect though was the mature richness, the fullness of his voice even in the deepest notes…his and Alfie's voices blended beautifully…it was, for me, a moment of pure emotion, promptly turning into roaring laughter when they took their bow and Alfie suddenly kneeled in front of Michael in a gesture of mock worshipping !

For the rest of the evening, Michael had his audience spellbound and each standing ovation saw the whole of the Albert Hall on their feet, from floor to top…and don't tell me they were all fans, there were lots of Proms goers within the audience…and surely not all of them shared the critics' point of view…a lovely chap sat behind us, a Proms goer for years and years, confessed to being genuinely blown away by Michael's performance and said that he had never ever seen that kind of reaction from an audience at the Proms…and it was said in the most positive and appreciative way, believe me !

Far too quickly, the concert came to an end…(I guess the Bib has a very tight schedule and you don't want to mess with the Bib, do you ???) We all joined into "Love Changes Everything", discretely but with heartfelt emotion, and then Michael was gone…

Michael, you have, yet again, made us proud and happy… thanks a million times for that…but I guess it doesn't get anywhere near how proud and happy YOU must be feeling…and with every reason in the world !!!



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