Madness! Is there any other explanation? It is Saturday noon and I check my bag for the last time. Madness, adoration, fanatism, addiction.... you can continue the list as long as you wish and choose whatever you want to explain what I did. I knew that many people, especially those who don't know Michael would think it is madness and to a certain degree I am sure it is! All I can say is, that I love seeing this man performing live. Yes I adore him quite a bit and for sure that is the reason, the main reason why I did what I did!
I went to the airport, nearly dying, 'cause we had more than 30 ° C and it was sultry and I was just hoping London would be a bit better. I could find out just an hour later that it was not. After saying hi for the third time during all my England trips of the last 12 months to the isolation of the plane. When I sat down I touched the screen and it just fell against my head! Well I fly cheap and as long as the wings don't fall down I can live with it! I got out of the plane and just wanted the night to come that it could get a bit cooler! Julia should already be there and I loved the moment I got to the waiting area of Stansted airport and could give her a big hug, can't believe I have not seen her then for more than a month! Harrogate and Liverpool just seem to be a world away and nevertheless I have the proof of that unforgettable week in my baggage. Lots of photos I wanted to show Stella and the other girls, especially the one with Cathy, still my big treasure!
We went to the Europcar counter and got our car! Surprise! Without any problems. Ok she asked the standards, if we had a contact phone number or address while we were in England. Well we did not, should we have told her that we planned to take their car as our hotel room as well? J Maybe better not ;-). We made ourselves comfortable in the car and Julia placed her Wales flag in the rear window (hoping there was no sports event in London where a Welsh team would be included!). We nearly left the parking space, when I saw, that I forgot the road map in the car, for gods sake! Can someone tell me, how I can go round the car and check if there are any scratches or similar things on it and don't see a hole in the rear lights? A really big hole. GAH!!!! Ok back to the counter and we are lucky, cause we can keep the car and she notes the damage! I was not eager to get the things out of the car into another one! I should have better done this, cause after all I discovered that night, that the front lights could not be really ok cause I could only see some metres on my side! Certainly not the most secure way to drive, but it worked and we finally got back with the car without having had a problem.
Back to London in the car (I have to be mad I think!). there are some things that have been my nightmares so far and I did not do them so far. One was driving Trafalgar Square and last time I drove through London I thanked the lord afterwards, we found another way to our car rental company then to go over the Piccadilly Circus! Well this time there was no chance in avoiding and I am proud I managed without bigger problems! We were going round and round searching for a parking space and after all I managed to drive the Piccadilly three times and it really became fun (but still thank you Julia for telling me we could have avoided all these places, but you wanted me to drive there! ;-))! I don't think there is anything more I can be scared off now (as long as I don't drive through Tokyo! LOL).
London was great as always. We went through the West End, we searched the Tower Records, Virgin Megastore and HMV. I was surprised to see that they had Stage and Screen, but with a different cover than I have. Mine is rather brownish and that was black. Unfortunately the box office of the Donmar was already closed, so we will have to wait to get our tickets until September, at least we know now for sure where it is!
Around 1 am we finally went to our car and made our way to Chelmsford., but we did not go the direct way, but rather drove around London and the suburbs a bit! Cause the night was just too wonderful to go on the last and maybe most stupid part of our journey
We searched for the parking lot of the Spectacular (which lasted certainly another hour cause it was so strange displayed where the parking lots were) and tried to sleep in the car, which was about as expected. We got two to three hours of sleep, certainly not the deepest I ever had, but well had to be enough to be fit for the evening and a day of queuing. It was half past seven, but it was maybe a good idea to get changed, brush our teeth and just do something to feel human again. We were back around an hour later to find there were already some people queuing. So here we were, our first open air, our first queuing and we had a great time with the people already being there. Unfortunately it was clouded and not the slightest bit as hot as the last night, but at least it was not raining! Not yet! Well that started a bit later and not really heavy, just some drops here and there. Although it was disturbing we could live with it so far.
Around noon we went to our car, to get some things I had forgotten. Quite a lot of people were waiting for Michael at the artiste reception area. We went back, cause we thought there would not be any real chances to see him! When we went back we heard the first sounds of the sound check. Obviously they were preparing for Michael and Lesley. Just when we sat down again on our place we could see Pat and Stella coming. Great to see them back after a whole month! Just minutes later Pam was there as well and we could see all the people coming back who waited for Michael. So he had to be there around 1.15 pm. And just some minutes later the rain set in. This time it really set in..... We hoped it was just for a short time, so Julia and me cuddled together in our rain jackets below her umbrella and tried to save our things from getting wet. My first concern was for my envelope, I really did not want the things to be damaged! For some time it was fun, but not too long I have to say. At first I thought, well it will stop soon. When it started just two minutes later it got a bit lighter, but that was no indication for the rain to stop I have to say! In contrast it even got heavier! Could it get worse? Yes it could, cause suddenly the heavy shower changed into a thunderstorm and we were getting colder and colder under our umbrella getting slowly wet and deciding this rain was as bad as the rain in Cardiff last year!
Three pm! Was it sarcasm? Well it seemed so when we heard the first sounds of "Don't rain on my parade"! Michael just started with rehearsals. Great to hear his voice again! We wanted to see if you could see anything of him, so we got close to the barriers, leaving our stuff at our place, being sheltered from the rain by the umbrella. I could not believe what happened then. When we were standing there, seeing the stage and seeing there were people, but not even being able to say who of the people was Michael, the rain faded! We were dry for about twenty minutes, but then it started again, maybe Michael should have done "Don't rain on my parade" again, but he did not, so we got more and more wet. When I got to our stuff to search for something, I could see someone was just as nice to push all our stuff to the side. Whoever it was: Thank you very much for getting all my things wet! Obviously you cannot leave your things alone in the queue! We finally joined Jen, a friend of Pat and Stella's who already did the running for them at Audley End with a good result. Well we were told off by someone who was really in front of us in the queue. It did not matter that Jane and Lucie came just an hour before the gates opened and joined in, cause they were known. But ok not to cause any trouble, after all we had other people running for us, we went back to our old place, wondering who all the people around us were that we have not seen before or who really have come hours after us and queued at the beginning rather quite a bit behind us! Well I guess that is the problem of the open airs and we have to cope.
Honestly I do not understand why everyone already prepared for getting in at 3 pm, when Michael just started rehearsing. They said we could get inside at 6 pm and well as long as Michael and Lesley are rehearsing I do not think there is any chance for us to get in. We had a great time standing there, waiting and just listening to them. They had to do some things several times, or at least parts of them, while we were getting more and more wet.
Around 6 pm finally the gates opened and the big rush started. Quite funny to run through the mud (I am proud to announce I did NOT fall, what comes close to a miracle, as far as I am concerned. Usually I do not leave a chance out to make a complete fool out of myself, LOL). We came over to Pat, Stella, Jane, Lucie, Pam, Jan and the others and could not believe what a great place we should have for the concert. I tried my camera and it was working fantastic, only problem I could have was the rain all the time. We sat down and did not have too much space actually and I just knew there would come horrible times for me, cause there was no chance I could move my legs really during the concert I just knew. So I took as much time standing there as I could. Time hardly passed and at one moment Lucie asked for the time just being sure it was already 7 pm and it was just a quarter past six! And that is just like the rest of the time went by. At least it finally stopped raining, just minutes before the concert started. Great this was something. We looked around us and it was so fascinating to look at all these colourful umbrellas and I was amazed at how full the place finally was. I did not expect this with the bad weather. But it could have always been worse. We just had rain and no hail-storm with big stones. God on high, if you read this, please do not regard this as a nice proposal for our next Open Air concert!!!! Well however maybe I should give out a warning now: When Julia and me are at concerts mostly these things happen! You should really think about it! I mean the only concert (besides Sydney) we have not been to had 30 ° C and sunshine all day long an see at the weather the other concerts! It was very cool, partly raining (LOL well in Chelmsford quite a lot raining ;-)). Floods, storms, these are the friends that always come with us! I mean the weather forecast for Chelmsford was rather good and see what really hit the place!
However the time passed, it finally a nice voice welcomed us to the concert and started telling us about all the sponsors of the event. I looked at my watch seeing it would be still twenty minutes till the concert should start. They did not plan to go on telling us all about the sponsors for twenty minutes, did they? No! it was quiet for some time and then finally the orchestra came on stage followed by Callum. So here goes the song list:
- Overture AOL Medley (Seeing is believing, Hand me the wine and the dice, Love changes Everything) conducted by Callum McLeod
- Don't rain on my parade
- Any dream will do
- Show me
- Wonder of you
- Oh mio babbino caro
- Beat dat rhythm on a drum (Les triangle des sistre tintaient (chanson bohème))
- The summer knows
- Sunset Boulevard
- Send in the Clowns
- Boy from nowhere
- West Side Story medley (I have a love, One hand one heart)
- Jellicle Ball (conducted by Lesley's Musical Director)
- Phantom of the Opera
- Wishing you where somehow here again
- All I ask of you
- I dreamed a dream
- At the barricades (conducted by Callum McLeod)
- Empty chairs at empty tables
- Oh! What a circus
- You and I
- Mambo italiano
- I will wait for you
- Let the rivers run
- Just help yourself
- Love changes Everything
- The impossible dream
- You'll never walk alone
- Orchestra: Land of Hope and Glory (conducted by Lesley's Musical Director)
Lesley Michael duet
I don't know what gift Mr. Ball has, but he started with " Don't rain on my parade " and it worked again there has not been any rain any more. Michael looked just fantastic. He was wearing this cream suit again, with white shirt and the Gucci-belt was not missing as well. The atmosphere was amazing. After all most people were wet and soaked to the bone, the ground was wet and actually I was happy that we could stand during the first song. We kept standing even during " Any dream will do ", but the security walked around and made us sit down again. It did not last too long until most people stood up again. I have to say I was not too angry about this, cause I preferred standing to sitting in the mud. I think it was the first time I did not hear anyone singing at the wrong passages, at least not close to me J . When the song was over Michael was as nice to ask if everyone could really see. I have to say I heard mostly people shouting yes, but as well some who said no! So Michael asked everyone to sit down again, there would be a partying bit at the end. And so we did, unless lots of people in Harrogate. Of course we did not bother.
After " Show me " Michael introduced Lesley with so kind nice adjectives and told us how happy he was to be able to call her a friend. It was clear how impressed he is by her as a person and as the brilliant singer she is. Lesley came on stage wearing a light blue beautiful dress. She looked as well just amazing, her hair now short and rather blondish. And she was just as fabulous as Michael was. I have never been a fan of Opera and I have to say I did not like soprano voices in the past really. Lesley changed that quite a bit in the past through her appearances with Michael, but I still was not really convinced, since I heard her sing live. It was amazing to hear her sing " Wonder of you " by Elvis, but then came the Opera part. Followed by a touching rendition of Laruettas aria from Giacomo Puccini´s one act opera "Gianni Schicchi" " O mio babbino caro ". By the way, she was accompanied by another conductor whose name I unfortunately did not get. She has such a wonderful voice, that I cannot believe anyone could not like her. Ok, as well I cannot believe there are people outside somewhere on this planet who don't like Michael's voice. Certainly the 8 th world miracle! She welcomed us all and said it was great being back in Chelmsford. She never saw such a colourful bunch before when she looked at us and finally added "And it's all plastic". She was in such a great chatty mood and oh she was so right. The view I had before the concert started was unbelievable: thousands of colourful umbrellas and if people did not wear umbrellas they had colourful rain coats and capes!
Afterwards she told us she had recorded a new album. She was proud of being able to work together with the writer of the following song (Michel LeGrand), which was " The summer knows ". Then she introduced Michael back on stage with whom she was proud to have recorded this song for her CD, which is according to her official website due for release some time in autumn. We welcomed Michael back the way he deserved it and then they sang. It was a beautiful duet and I am dying to get her CD, when it will be published. I hope soon!
She left the stage afterwards to let Michael get on with his part. He just gave us the full Michael with three of the best songs he had ever sung. I don't know how he can dare singing " Sunset Boulevard ", " Send in the clowns " and " Boy from Nowhere " in one order. What did he think how on earth I could get enough oxygen without breathing for say 12 minutes? I don't know how I managed, but I did not get unconscious, which has to be a minor miracle. All songs were just as fabulous as you are used to when Michael is concerned! It was just before that a fan shouted "I love you Michael" and he responded with "I love you too".
One of the most horrible feelings was, when I sat there and was listening to "Boy from nowhere" and finally felt, because I had sat in one stupid position for the whole concert that my legs had completely fallen asleep! Great I had one minute to make my blood circulate again to get up. I managed half. At the end of the song I could get up, ok I felt like my legs had to leave me again soon, they just do not like sitting there like that for a long time without any movement, but thanks to Michael I ignored it, till the final point I really had to get up J .
Michael then left the stage again for Lesley and she gave him five when he walked past her. It was just so cute. She gave beautiful renditions of " I feel pretty " and " Somewhere ". Especially the last song was quite interesting to listen to her instead of listen to Michael sing it, what I am rather used to (LOL what do I say, especially the first. Has Michael sung "I feel pretty" so far? ;-) Well maybe under the shower, but I don't think that counts J Ok Kerstin, stop all your dirty phantasies!).
Mr. Ball came back for the last bit that led directly over into the interval. They now gave us the rendition of the West Side Story medley, which was just beautiful. I loved seeing them both act this song and I hope that the photos came out as I wish they should! They left the stage together and it was cute to be able to see on the screens, how they left the back part, which I could not from my position. they really seemed like good friends!
We were off for a twenty minutes interval and it was just around 8.30 pm. I could not believe time flew by that quickly. And it was just fantastic. What did Julia say so nicely? "Why do I believe that a Lesley Garrett concert can be lots of fun?" Answer: I am sure it is!
The interval was over really soon, when the orchestra came back on stage and Callum conducted the "Jellicle Ball". After that song Lesley came back on stage and stood at her microphone while the first sounds of "Phantom of the Opera" started. Lesley was wearing now a wonderful golden dress. She started to sing, when shortly afterwards Michael entered the stage in Phantom-style. He wore the "ALW 50 th celebration coat" or at least something very, very similar, a black shirt and black trousers without a belt! Goodness looked he slim in these clothes. Thanks Michael you left me with the urgent wish to start a diet immediately! How do you dare! ;-). The way they did the Phantom was unbelievable and it was cute seeing Lesley forgot the text at one part, but who can blame her. After all she was singing with Michael and it was more than obvious all of the time, she is just one of us mad Ballettes. Makes you feel much better actually! If the version on the CD is just half as good as this was, only this song was worth buying it! As if only this! He certainly was not as touchy here as he was with Claire Moore about one month ago at Liverpool, but what did he say during the Fan club event 1998, being asked about the recording of the first Lesley Garrett show? "I was in trouble when I got home!". Oh I am sure he was, so knowing Cathy had been there, might have helped him to keep back a bit J . Well Lesley made no try to hide her adoration for Mr. Michael Ashley Ball, our all centre of interest, and made us cheer by saying "The absolutely fabulous Michael Ball". Producing sounds of a wild cat or whatever description comes close. Mrs. Garrett I fear after this evening there is no chance in hiding what you feel about Michael, obviously the same we all feel! Plus she had to drink something before she could go on!
After she sang " Wishing you were somehow here again " and I wondered why Sarah Brightman does not sound the slightest way as good (sorry for the Sarah fans, for example Helen, but I love this version much more!). After Michael's classical hits " Empty Chairs " and " Oh! What a circus ", that never or seldomly are left out, Lesley came back on stage. They did a great job with " You and I ". It always amazes me when I think that the two guys from Abba have written this song, cause it does not sound the slightest way like Abba, but well after all they also did "Anthem" (Abba not Michael and Lesley). When she came back on stage, she wore colourful glitzy trousers, the black top I think she already wore in her second series where she sang with Michael " Bei Männern " and a green tight jacket! She looked fabulous.
She did the "Mambo Italiano" which I still have in my ear now about two days later. Beautiful song very well done. Afterwards she said: "Michael said I should do Jazz so I did Jazz!". The things we do for Michael I can only say ;-). But I have to say it was a good proposal by him, cause it was a great song and I am sure Michael enjoyed it backstage was well.
After another song Michael came back for the Rock'n'Roll part and we could get up again, yes!!! I could not await this bit for several reasons. he wore the black shiny suit he already wore at the Charity concert at the Royal Albert Hall in June, a white shirt and his beloved glitzy tie. Yes I know I sound like those old broken records, but HE LOOKED GORGEOUS, well actually he looked really beautiful! Trust me!
We were off for the Rock'n'Roll bit now and so far I did not know that I would hate myself afterwards, so much as I did for seeing some special person not, who was standing at Julia's and mine side. The thought of that still gives us imaginations of how to kill ourselves the most brutal way, cause just kicking ourselves would not be good enough for us! But we did not know until Michael and Lesley left the stage. Whatever I am not going to tell this here for everyone. People who know me, know who I am talking about!
" Help yourself " could not be missed. Well he did not take his jacket off. Other than many people might think I do not think the temperatures were the reason. After all he was dry and dancing and could get the jacket back on after just one minute! Rather guess there were other reasons, but well who knows?
After another breathtaking "Love changes Everything" (this was an unhealthy night for me wasn't it? ;-)) Lesley came back on stage. He handed her a huge bunch of flowers for the show and said he was going to get it off, before he gave the stage back to Lesley to sing "The impossible dream". The last solo impression of her wonderful voice for that evening.
"My time!" he smiled when they exchanged places again. The last song of the night was going to be "You'll never walk alone". He started singing it alone before Lesley finally joined him on stage and they finished the night together. A wonderful night, which only lacked a bit of sunshine and some degrees more (but I guess not even Michael has influence on this ;-)) was over much too soon, when they both left happy the stage and Lesley's conductor was in charge of the orchestra for the music that accompanied the fireworks.
What a mixture: a handsome, good-looking gorgeous guy, with the best sense of humour and a god-given, divined voice! What more can you want to have for a brilliant night out? Plus the unbelievable bonus of having lots of Lesley Garrett. I am sure this was not the last time I have seen her live!
We took the long way back to our car, for whatever reason. We walked past the exit where Michael was supposed to leave. Our life was over (I am getting a bit melodramatic don't I?, but that was how it felt then!). So the decision was made that on the slight chance of seeing Michael leave, we were going to get our things to the car and wait with the other ones till 4 am, if necessary! That was the last time we really needed to leave to get our flights back to Germany!). A miracle I slipped when I was almost at our car, but I did manage NOT to fall, already the second time that day! I am improving I have to say. Yum, would have looked really good, if Michael came out and I was there completely mudded! Ok my trousers looked nevertheless horrible, but who cares!
After some time Lesley and at some point Mick left and the only person we were still waiting for was Michael and with some luck Cathy! It was just some time after midnight, when a Mercedes came closer to the exit. Just some metres before it left through the exit where we were standing, the security led the car to another exit, which they just opened. Everything we could see was Michael waving at us and I think our jaws collectively dropped down! Should we have been standing in the rain the whole day, being there for in the meantime 15 hours and after the concert another 2 hours, freezing here and everything we get is just a wave from about 100 metres? This just could not be true!
Before we could think on like this, the Mercedes did not drive the road on, but went over the lawn and just some seconds later Michael was with us. Chatting for some time with us in general, till he and Cathy finally left!
Getting back to Peter Punto (we called our Fiat Punto like that!), Julia changed her top to get a dry and a bit warm finally, before we left heading for Stansted. It just took us about half an hour to get there. It was such a strange feeling standing there on the parking lot of Stansted airport knowing this was kind of the official ending of our journey. Why do the best things in life have to be over that soon? Can someone please explain this to me? I guess I will never understand. At least we were leaving knowing exactly that we are going to see him again in September, but are we going to see Cathy again? And what will be after the Donmar? How can we cope not knowing when we are going to see him again? Questions, questions and no answers! Everything we can do is hope and pray that he won't forget about us. I already gave up hope I will ever see him live in Germany, but I hope he will remember the mainland!
After having a short nap in Peter Punto we finally decided against our will to get our stuff together and go over to the airport. Time to leave London and Julia came much too soon. When I was sitting in my seat of my Buzz bee it seemed so unreal I should have really have this weekend, these 35 hours. And still it is just like a pleasant dream. I hope I can get my photos tomorrow. Today they told me they did not get them back so far! Great I am not going to pay a hell of money to get the photos processed within one day, if they now need two! After all there was a reason why I wanted to have the photos that soon. Everything that was left when I was in the train on my way back, was a head full of pleasant memories, a bag of English wine gums and a bottle of Evian water and I was so extremely tired + my body is still thinking, if it might produce a nice little cold, but who cares... When I finally lay in my bed looking at the photos on the walls of Michael I felt great. I was and I am mad, but Michaelism is the best drug you can take! Thank you Michael for giving me again the most special memories!