Bine's Tour Report 2000

Part 4

Aberdeen 09.10.2000  
8.15am. BREAKFAST! No, I won't go into that discussion again. As it's a day off concert-wise and our next global destination is Aberdeen the whole eastern coast is awaiting our visit - and I will spare you the details of going round in circles around Edinburgh and finally along the coast, past Dunnottar Castle, Johnshaven and Stonehaven, a ruined castle B&B to end up in Aberdeen - where we will rejoin the story...

I've never been to Aberdeen, so why not stay close to where we have to be tomorrow...the lady in the tourist office recommends the 'Inn at the Park' - and since they have a room it's where we're headed after an inspection of the city centre.

The shopping area in Aberdeen is like a lot of them, but since we haven't eaten anything, Safeway's is as good a place to get something as anywhere. Shame that we cannot find the sandwiches until we are out again - they are hiding in one little corner BEFORE you go in. Handy. It has started raining again so we make our way to the hotel, which looks really nice from the outside and cosy on the inside. The landlady welcomes us and after I say my name 'Frenz' she just says 'Oh, as in friends'. Yes, indeed, but hey, it took me 26 years to get that joke...

The room is right at the top and the lady is a real sprinter which ends in me breathing like a marathon runner and Ulli and Iris being lost on the second floor somewhere...yes, the lady does enjoy it. We don't. Well, initially anyway.

The room is really nice, apart from the fact that the windows do not sound as if they stand any sort of weather - let's hope the wind and rain stay outside. It's early evening anyway and it seems all of a sudden after taking some frog group hug photos all the energy has gone. After eating it gets worse and for me it ends when Iris switches the telly on, I don't know the series, but I don't have to - I fall asleep in a very awkward position on the bed anyway. The 'awkward' comes when waking up and trying to get the kinks out of the body - and while Iris is fast asleep Ulli and me play around with some silly ideas. We still have to write the 'thank you' card and as we're bouncing ideas off each other we start playing around with song lyrics... 

Aberdeen 10.10.2000
 Well, the wind and the rain have miraculously stayed outside and we are ready to get downstairs to get another big breakfast with the landlord being really nice and even trying to get the CD player running - but failing dismally. Now, I'm certain that the bacon as it is called in this establishment was called ham where I stayed earlier. Or is it me?

The CD player might not be working, but the radio is and so we are treated to Cher's 'Walking in Memphis' (oh, no, not for breakfast?) and a rather soppy song by Celine Dion which is appropriate considering that we are writing our 'goodbye' card. After breakfast we decide to check out of the room but ask for a place to sit for a while and are offered a window table in the bar. I am responsible for settling the bill, and I follow the order 'Michael will sort you out' with a bit of a chuckle - I'm sure the poor Michael sorting me out doesn't know what's going on. The landlady wants to know what we're here for and off to now and when we tell her that Michael Ball is playing the Exhibition Centre later on she visually cringes. 'You like him?' Well, have an educated guess, woman...

Anyway, we move to the table and it definitely doesn't help in getting us out by lighting the fire in the fireplace (well, where else...) and it becomes so cosy at our table that it takes a bit of an effort to leave and move into town again for some last minute shopping.

Just when the time for our parking ticket has run out we leave Starbucks and head back to the car. It has started raining again and since it is well into the afternoon anyway we decide to head for the Exhibition centre as we (or rather...Iris, as nominated by chief chickens Ulli and me...) want to try and pass our 'goodbye card' on before the show - either to the man himself or one of his nice helping hands. The Exhibition Centre looks like - well, a large exhibition centre really, the car park at the front is fenced off, but the one at the back is not and so Iris moves the car in there. At one of the large doors the crew bus is parked and so we - after a tour round the building to check out the size - park opposite the bus on the other side of the car park and watch what happens. There is one car with someone learning to drive and the instructor finally gets out and - closes the fence. Oh, marvellous!

A few people gather at or rather in one of the doors and around 4pm we agree that it is not a particularly bright idea to stay in the car and then follow Malcolm if he comes and then get out of the car all nice and warm with everyone else having waited outside weathering the storm and rain. So, off we go to park the car and head back towards the door where everyone is standing, but we choose to wait in the door next to them.

Iris has some trouble with her brolly and suddenly leaves. Ulli takes that opportunity to tell me that Iris has a tendency to bump into people and we worry for a short while, but after a few minutes she returns with a broken umbrella, but still has the card in her pocket. There is not much conversation going on apart from the odd questions like, 'Why are we doing this?' - 'I'm cold' - 'I'm wet' etc. Iris leaves again - and this time stays away longer.

Jokingly Ulli and I say that she's going to meet Michael and continue to cheer each other up in this weather. But this time Iris doesn't return. Minutes pass and still no sign of her until I finally decide to go and check on her. That said and done we leave our position and when we approach the corner we run straight into Iris. 'Oh, there she is' - when she comes up to me, arms open wide, gives me a hug (first thought crossing my mind: Is she mad?) and gives me a kiss on the left and right cheek (second thought crossing my mind: Yep, she's lost it...or could it be...) and says: 'With love from Michael Ball.' Silence. Third thought crossing my mind is - blank. Fourth thought crossing my mind is that she's having me on, taking the Michael, stitching me up - until I notice - the card is gone. My 'I don't believe it, this can't be true, please say this is NOT TRUE????' is accompanied by Ulli's 'This can't be true' and Iris' delighted smile followed by: 'I was only looking for the loo...' Yes, certainly you were, my friend. Oh - my - god.

I cannot really remember what exactly she tells us apart from that she has indeed met Michael as he came in at the front and she was lucky enough to find an open door to cut across. This is just SO typical - and I'm certain that everyone will understand that we have to take counter measures and even follow her to the loo from now on. Given my track record chances are that had it been me going in search of the ladies room he would have popped in at the back of the hall...

The drive to the B&B is somewhat dizzy - Iris thinks she is in heaven (I have to congratulate her though, she really DID as Michael told her to...) and Ulli and me are probably thinking something else...

The St. Elmo's landlady is already expecting us and shows us to our lovely room and wants us to fill out our orders for breakfast which - that makes a change - must be early as Ulli and Iris are going to drop me off at Aberdeen airport where I will start my journey home.

It's time to change into 'concert gear' again and while we do that we get more details of the story with Iris apologising time and time again for the result of her trek. But hey, the card is delivered! We are ready pretty early but decide to go back to the Exhibition Centre anyway.

As we arrive at the Centre we go the wrong way round once but then Iris spots a guy waving and indicating where we should go - which leads us to a another group of people who show us to park - right next to the tour bus. I don't think they know exactly why we have to laugh. Iris sort of apologises to us (what for?): 'Sorry, but that's where he's pointing at' whilst parking the car, but I'm not complaining, am I?

When we approach the entrance, the stewards seeing our hesitation coax us on with 'You're not the first, you can go in' and so we do.

While the hall has the look of a warehouse from the outside I am not quite prepared to see that it is virtually the same on the inside. What a romantic setting. The walk to the area where the stage is seems endless and then it is just a part of the huge hall divided from the other parts by black curtains. The seating area is done with simple chairs, at least they are fixed together so no one is able to move them. The stewards though are very friendly (as yet) maybe it's because we are SO early and head straight for our seats. This is a new feeling, being in the place well over an hour before 'kick-off'.

We sit in row two and - oh, the joy - I can see the end of the ramp, so could this be my chance to see the entry and Michael as he appears? Since we are in a warehouse there is a huge gap between the stage and the first row again. Really, you can build aeroplanes in here but not have concerts. The ventilation is on as well and the place only fills very slowly. At least I see Sheila again and tell her that I will be leaving after this and we sort of agree to meet after the show outside the building.

Shortly before the show one guy starts climbing up part of the stage at the back and moves over to one of the spotlights (with a lot of people watching him in fact). Now, at first I think he is going to do some repairs but I stand corrected, because another guy moves up stays on the other side and indeed moves to another spotlight. What a job that must be.

Since it is nearly time, the frogs get their outing, George and Garou having been allowed to come with Hosi again. Garou is quite lucky because he can look out of the bag and has an unobstructed view as the chair in front of him stays empty. Ulli is lucky as well, as she has same said chair in front of her and is sitting on the aisle anyway...

Now, for the show...with the two guys operating the spotlights manually, the band strikes up the overture of our final concert for this tour (sigh) the thunder and lightning start and yes, in an answer to my earlier question, this time I do see him behind the curtains and am aware of the first moment when he is on stage. Aberdeen greets him with loud applause, enforced by the constant hum of the ventilation, how charming. After letting the rivers run, the 'Michael Ball Millennium Tour' continues with 'Millennium' of course and after 'I don't want a lover' Aberdeen is greeted for the first time ever as Michael has never appeared there before.

And in a change to previous dedications this time 'You're still the one' is dedicated to everyone travelling from far away this far up north. Yep, add another one to the 'You're still the one' scoreboard J . The songs are great Michael is in fine voice, but it is SO cold in that hall that I wish I had brought my sweater with me really. Take another point away from the overall count for the Exhibition Hall as a venue...but add a point that no one has to bear the blinding lights since the first row is far enough away from the stage...

It's strange, but in a 'final' concert you try to savour every moment even more and so 'If tomorrow never comes' and the musicals medley have an even greater impact this time. Aberdeen gives Michael a standing ovation for the well deserved interval.

The second half starts with 'Something inside so strong' and its beginning obviously takes some people by surprise, because they can't let go of their drinks and have to cut across the stalls passing the stage to get to their seats. I suppose a few would have been ok, really, but as the song continues, the number rises! There are streams of people and of course all of them passing at the stage - ever thought of coming in from the back? - and all that we need now is someone actually stopping there to have a better view. I'm sure there was an announcement as to the length of the interval...

'Walking in Memphis' is greeted warmly especially when it comes to 'the little number' and the accompanying movements for that J . By that time for some reason I've got Iris' frog in my lap as well, so I'm now sitting there with two frogs which must be an intriguing sight...Mick seems to have a problem with his power pack again - and this time it is infectious, because at one time Michael steps up to the front and says to excuse him - lights go out - 'where are we' - spotlight comes on, but doesn't quite find him, 'but these things for my ear pieces have gone quiet and I can't hear anything...' which is followed by him going over to the right of the stage to have someone change the power pack, with the lights now completely gone and everyone sitting there in the dark. We would have liked to see it actually, I don't think anyone would have minded...actually the semi-dark is ok in the second row to make out something J .

As Michael thinks that the helping hand is ready he starts getting away from him which is followed by a distinct 'clonk' as the pack falls to the floor, because the helping hand is in fact not finished yet. But things are ok at the second attempt.

With the technical things settled we get Aberdeen's rendition of 'You bring the best out of me' which he now is proud to sing and not mention that somebody else will turn it into a big hit. Way to go! His own section of songs this evening is not accompanied by any encouragement to do it ourselves...

Is Aberdeen in for a treat, as we enter the party time with even more explicit gyrating for 'Why haven't I heard from you', lots of laughter for 'Why do fools fall in love' and a very hesitating rush to the front for 'La vida loca'. There is no panic, people seem to be puzzled mostly which ends in Ulli - upon seeing other's moving as well - getting out in front of me and me and her not really sure whether to go into the one meter gap at the front left open or not. Oh, what the heck, grab your chance...

During the Rock 'n' Roll medley Aberdeen finally wakes up and embraces the opportunity - it's probably the best way to get warmer again in this place...

'Help yourself' is ended with loud applause and we get the good old rhythm for 'Hot Stuff' which sees Michael return in the velvet black coat again and bouncing on stage as if there is no tomorrow. I read in one comment somewhere that Michael actually rips the coat open at the end of 'Hot Stuff' and since then I've been wrecking my brain whether he does it here as well...could well be!

And then, after 'One Step' it is finally there, our final song for who knows how long and what is the introduction for this night? 'Well, we'll sing this as a goodbye' and we hear 'You made me love you'. Now, whether it is a coincidence (but what a perfect match) or not, that is SO fitting for us that it is really the best end for the tour this year.

And that's it, there ain't no more after Michael promising to be back in Aberdeen soon (well, you may be - we most probably won't, not for this venue...)

We follow the crowd on the way out after collecting our bags and respective frogs (my frog enjoyed the show joining me at the stage safely stashed away in the trousers...) and head back towards the tour bus, which we cannot avoid as the car is parked right next to it. The fences are out, but at one stage Malcolm moves the bus along the side of the building to let Michael step through the door and right onto the bus. Iris ventures closer, but Ulli and me stay at the car, lost in thought...

I see Sheila again and finally take the opportunity to say 'good-bye' and tell her to take good care of herself and Michael, which she promises to do. After a while the crowd's noise level rises and Michael gets on the bus. While Malcolm slowly starts driving there are a couple of people standing there and Malcolm slows down again. After that there is no one left or everyone greeted and Malcolm whizzes off towards the city.

Iris returns to us and we make our way back to the B&B, which proves to be a bit difficult this time, since we go in circles for a while not finding the right road until Iris gets out at a petrol station and asks for help only to be told that we are so close it's ridiculous...late at night, finally at 'home' and each one of us lost in thought really. It's never easy to come down from the high after a concert in the first place but with my impending departure in the morning and no further highlight to look ahead to it is a quite gloomy feeling in our room. But who can be sad for long with friends like these who know they don't have to say much, only be there - which they are.

  Aberdeen 11.10.2000

 Breakfast is served when it is necessary and it is really lovely. They not only let us put our breakfast menu down yesterday, but we had to put the names on it - and now they have little cards at each of our places and the landlord uses those to address everyone by name while serving the dishes. That's a really cute idea and a good start into the day. Very recommendable service, very recommendable B&B.

Since we have to go to the airport now, we pack everything and everyone into the Daewoo again, not before taking one picture with Elmo (cuddly toy) in front of the 'St. Elmo', which obviously he enjoys a lot...

Aberdeen Airport is small enough to be a nice airport and at the easyjet check-in I get the news that we are running twenty minutes late, but Ulli and Iris immediately say that they are going to wait anyway.

We spend some time sitting in one corner letting the frogs out again and not saying too much. Why does this have to be so difficult??  

Finally I decide to end this lengthening departure, it will not get easier and so we say farewell at the security entry and I wish them fun for the following days in Scotland and they wish me a safe journey home.

easyjet is not easyjet for nothing and we are not running twenty minutes late but virtually an hour until we finally get the boarding call and are allowed to approach the plane. I decide to stay at the front stairs and wait to get in when I am very surprised to see Geoff getting up the stairs some people in front of me and the tall guy who during 'Why do fools' is standing to the far right and whose name escapes me at the moment. Well, there's one moment to make me smile...

I take my seat next to a lady and her daughter and since I have my frog out the lady reads the 'On tour with Michael Ball' bit on the top and asks about him. She knows he was at the Exhibition Centre and wants to know how it went. So, I'm delighted to give her a brief summary of last nights events and she immediately says that she is surprised that Michael chose the Exhibition Centre since His Majesty's Theatre is a much nicer setting. For my money and after being in the Centre - listen to the lady J .

The flight itself is uneventful, but at one stage I think I saw someone resembling Neal the drummer going to the lavatory - but then again this man is not carrying his portable commode so it can't be him really...

From Luton Airport it's going to Mönchengladbach, and there is one big change: EAE is on time! Hooray! Usually they let you sit there like dumb robots as if you don't notice that they are running late. The service on board is very nice and when we get off at Mönchengladbach my parents aren't even there, because they never expected me to be there two minutes BEFORE the scheduled time.

The 'welcome back' is celebrated with a take-away meal and outside the shop my mum tells me that I said 'Thank You' in English after receiving my change...some habits are hard to break, I guess J . And while I am telling them of all the things that happened I realise that although it is all over, the memories are here to stay.

  ...So, it's the laughter, we will remember,

whenever we remember, the way we were...


  Personal note: This whole thing has turned into quite a monster (and a soppy monster at that) while writing it up - I guess that's the price you pay for not having a concept and just making it up as you go along. It has also turned out pretty different to the report I did last year not only because last year's write-up was in German, but the whole style seems to have changed from last year to this year.

P.S.: And going back to what Michael said about writing things down for your memory and for some sort of cleansing - it is true, it helps as this year I found it particularly hard to settle back into work...

P.P.S.: And for all those who haven't been able to go to a concert as yet - NEVER give up hope, I waited ten years for my first chance last year.

04/09/2004 14:32

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