A sad bunny is sitting completely alone at Gatwick airport, waiting to check in for a plane that shall carry her away from her favourite country, from Michael-land. Looking back at a great week, that just could have been a day. A week cannot be over that fast. She is thinking about the future, and a slight depression is rising in her. No fix date, no concert, no musical, no nothing to look out for. Just some rumours about possible tours, about possible musicals. Please, she needs something to look out for, just something...
Days pass, even weeks pass. The grapevine is working overtime, interpretations of Michael Ball interviews are floating the Michael Ball world. "Have you heard the interview? He nearly said, he said, he was doing a tour next year.." "The way he spoke about theatre and the West End, just allow one idea: He is gonna come back to the West End." Michael Ball fans are stunned, this is the most emotional rollercoaster drive a single person can put his fans on. Then we end up: "Oh my god, he did not sound too confident about doing a musical anymore!" Detach, inner poise. There is a lesson each Michael Ball fan has to go through: Don't try to interpret what Michael Ball says on interviews and even more important: Don't ever try to overinterprete what he says elsewhere. You end up thinking: Hang on, whatever 2002 will bring, either he will be doing a tour or a musical, there is no way Michael Ashley Ball seems to want to make 2002 to his own private Sabbath year (if there is nothing in the UK like this: Sabbath year in Germany is something teachers can take. They can take a year holiday from school).
2,5 weeks have passed and rumours are spreading. Great news are to come up.. Ooooh, something on the Members Area, rush over, a musical? Fingers crossed a musical, please let him do a musical... GAH, Christmas Tour. Who needs that? Who can afford that? Ok, ok I will shut up, just because there is no way I can make that, it is still great for all the fans out there, grrr. Detach, inner poise..Sob, inner poise? Whom are you going to fool, you feel hatred for anyone being able to go there, sob. And again, why don't I live in England? Does anyone need a companion to share his/her house/flat with? Preferably in London? Preferably in the West End? Not? Ok..A day, in that all people going to be there are hated and a day where you realize, that only living in the UK does not mean, everyone is able to go and see him passes and a miracle happens. Your best friend calls you and gives you the great news. London Dominion here we come. Ok only the last concert, but better than nothing, huh? (Still Michael, Friday and Saturday would have been just the tiny bit more perfect to complete perfectness!), but hey who is going to complain? Cloud nine, you are mine!
Weeks pass and yes the announcement is made. Michael Ball will be at the Palladium on 15 th November 2001 and he invites his fans to come there. Now: Would be funny, if he was going to do a press conference in the theatre that will home Chitty Chitty Bang Bang next year for telling us, he is going to do Jekyll and Hyde J , and yet what a surprise, would you have thought it? Michael is going to play Caractacus Potts. Michael, can you explain how on earth a person that looks years younger than when I discovered him (then being 32 to his own words) shall ever play a father to 10-year old children? Ok you started early granted. ;-)
Another few weeks pass and a happy bunny realizes, that getting the "I'm going to see Michael countdown" down to 8 actually means, it is more than time to think about clothes to wear. Hating her friend cause she got a beautiful jacket from her mum as St. Nickolaus present does not make your life easier. Something must be ordered or you are going to be naked, cause no way, your concert and Donmar outfits are warm enough for a December concert and December stage door standing. And some stupid person (whose name is not going to be mentioned here) ends up ordering herself a knee-long skirt (huh?) and a sleeveless shirt (huh? huh?), leaving her winter jacket at home, because the leather jacket looks far better (despite all concerns of her Mum!). Good evening. My name is Kerstin and I am a Ballette (sorry have to re-do this, cause not even most Ballettes are that mad). Good evening. My name is Kerstin. I am an extreme Ballette among Ballettes and I desperately search NO help! Why caring for a pneunomia, when I can look good? Don't comment on this!
What time is it, when strange German Ballettes, underdressed in the way, that everything despite not getting the most horrible cold back home with them, would mean a miracle? Yes Michael Ball is touring again and Buzz here I come. Standing at stage doors and dancing at concerts does mean quite a bit of physical contact to your neighbours. Thank you Düsseldorf airport for preparing me for this: It's always great to be frisked for weapons. Hey, how shall they know I am not Jane Bond and my lipstick is actually really only a lipstick? Touching down at Stansted being just five minutes late despite starting 40 minutes late (Captain: "We are late, therefore we are going to experiment, try a new route and fly faster!" Eeeek, where the hell was this dam life jacket?) Trapped in thoughts and torn between "Do they have enough kerosene with them?" and "Why don't we always fly faster?" I drifted to sleep. for about a minute. Note: Get up earlier again and do everything you can, not to end up on an aisle seat on the plane. At Stansted finally I find a mostly deserted airport. I have never seen it that empty, what's wrong? So many people driven back from flying to London? All to soon I discover I seem to have been on one of the very few flights that were almost in time. Well at least there is a chance Julia could be there already (I thought). Happily smiling I had a look for my screen that is going to tell me for sure, that Julia is going to touch d.. WHAT? 12.10 pm instead of 10:40? Thank you! I love you as well God! But well, God knew what I did not! That I forgot my letter to Michael at home, what I just only discover, so I take this our time to write again to him, not the most comfortably, but at least I have a letter going along my presents for him. Several sentences and a letter later, I find myself having been foppel-hugged back in London, back in my city. By the way, Julia's pilot really had the strange idea it was better to wait with getting started until the navigation device was being repaired. I don't understand it, is not the fun far bigger, if you try searching London by eye?
If you ever travel with me, one very important hint, that Julia still did not learn after 6 trips: If we have to decide whether going left or right and I say left.. Grab my wrist and no matter how much I am complaining pull me to the opposite direction. I have a nice rate of 100 % failure here! Ask Julia!
Stuffed with Christmas pressies and videos for several people we are on our way to see THE MAN again. We end up in front of the Dominion and have a short peek inside. The display of the merchandising tells me this is going to be an expensive night, I have to have that baseball cap! The Dominion inside is just beautiful, quite a surprise as it rather seemed boring from the outside! We round the Dominion and see a bunch of ladies. The proof we needed, Michael will be there and: We have just found the stage door J . Despite arriving just in time for him, Michael decided, everything went well and he should not have to come that early. One hour gives us a nice foreboding, of what we are going through the same night, only worse! It is cold, though I am still wearing trousers, but I am warmed with some new Michael pics and videos I got, so, why don't we have a video recorder in our hotel? Ok agreed, we need at least the few hours sleep we can get during the nights!
We were waiting around and finally he came, though Debbie unfortunately had to leave before Michael came. He took some time while slowly making his way to the stage door, and I guess only one or two minutes later he was in. Strange, can someone tell me, why a whole bunch of adult women and partly some men use to stand for hours in the cold December wind, just to see one man getting from his car through a door? My name is Kerstin, I am a Ballette and though I know I am mad, I don't want to be cured!
As we all still had some things to do, we took our farewells and promised to see the others again at the concert. Julia filmed the inside of the Dominion and then we stood at the traffic lights to get to the Boots opposite the Dominion. Out of boredom I looked back to the Dominion ... heart please beat on! How dare they doing that? You could not see it standing directly in front of it, but from there: A huge - and I mean huge - poster of the Centre Stage cover with a nice sentence below about Michael. NOW: If there had been the first Centre Stage cover, I am sure I would have been unable to attend that concert the very night!
We have to start to become real pro concert goers! Arriving at the theatre around ten to eight pm we buy our merchandising. Sorry Michael, but I could live without the sold posters. As much as I love your posters, but a slight variation of the Centre Stage cover. Ok, yes it was signed and yes there were only 250 numbered posters. But instead of paying 30 pounds sterling for that, I would have preferred usual posters without signature, maybe these could have been a bonus?
However, taking our seats we said our hello to Gill and Maureen who were sitting directly in front of us. The lady at our side was quite nice. She told me, if we wanted to get up later on, we should just tell her. But we had different plans. Why on earth should we give up these good seats? To stand somewhere in the aisle and try to see something over all the arms? Certainly not!
Well the light faded, the sound rose, the light show started and we know we were in for a treat. After all, we knew for whom we paid the money for the tickets. I don't know, why Michael decided to blind us. The spot lights were directed to the audience, for a few seconds I would have killed for sunglasses, when Michael appeared to the sounds of "Dancing in the Dark". Well we did, after we could see again. All I could say at that moment was WOW. Michael just looked fabulous, there are no words to describe it. To answer one of the most important questions: His hair was a bit longer again, than during the Donmar run. However he managed I thought and still think he looked even slimmer, than at the Donmar. He wore a black jacket, white shirt with the first buttons open and black jeans. Even the shoes seemed more casual to me than before! This up-tempo song was followed by a song taken from Brian Kennedy's latest album "Get on with your short life". The same called song was wonderful. I don't know Brian's songs so far, just started listening to the first CD I got on tape by a friend. If his other songs are equally nice Michael should do more of Brian's songs.
In the meantime the first little pieces of paper (better known as snow ;-)) started to fall. Every now and then there was a flake coming down. It looked really cute, but I wonder if it was planned. He did a fabulous show and so far I was curious what we were about to hear. Yes, most of the songs I knew for sure. But during the first four concerts none was like the other one. All the time I heard of changes from show to show. So we had our chances to pray for this and that song. Unfortunately he did not do "High flying adored". Would have loved to hear him singing that one.
We knew we were in for a treat again, when he started speaking about "My fair lady". This meant he had to have kept "Show Me!". With the known words, we learnt that 'we do it a little bit differently' to the stage version. Well as I don't think I know that really, I don't care. Here he was again, Michael asking for proofs of love. If people who go each tour to at least one concert did not see so far, he was in quite a good shape, the proof for this was just to come. There is always this bit, where he is dancing over the stage from one side to the other one. I am used to this from the Musicals and More video and from some concerts. Now I really had my problems keeping my eyes on him. I am obviously not very flexible and just when I was used to follow him with my eyes in that speed, he stood already again. Wow, I have never seen him so full of energy, but there was one bit of relief. After this he spoke to us and introduced us to "With one look" and thank heavens he really needed to catch some breaths. If this had not been the case I think I would have ended up Saturday morning jogging round Hyde Park, to get into some shape as well. Ok I should do that nevertheless. Get into shape not jogging around Hyde Park, would be one of the most expensive diets ever seen.
He dedicated "Lift your Wings" to his little Yogi (his dog) who died just days before the tour started. Of course he seemed to be so extremely sad, while singing this song. I was not able to think of taking a photo, either now, nor during the next song. "Just When" will always be very touching and emotional for me. Only seeing that this was the only of his self-written songs he performed here, you can see how much it means to him as well. After he finished he paused for a moment, waiting for the applause to stop. He looked into her direction and then said "To Cathy". After another moment he threw a kiss.
Later we found out, that some songs stayed on the song list, while others got in again. Luckily, he never wondered to skipping "Boy from Nowhere", but how should he. Of course this song brought him once again standing ovations. Actually that was once more the moment, that I regretted not having seen more shows. Ok I was kicking myself the very same moment, thinking I should be happy and grateful I was even there! Decidedly I was grateful, not that Michael made this decision really difficult. Soon we found ourselves in the middle of the interval talking to Chris and Debbie, who were dressed like sane people, despite us.
Some chats later, we found ourselves back on our seats. There were still plenty of seats behind us unoccupied, when Michael re-entered the stage to the sounds of "This is the moment", a song that so many of his fans eagerly awaited him to sing again, and here he did. Michael did a fabulous rendition of "This is the moment". If not already before to the various other songs I have to say he sounded fabulous. However he manages his voice seems to improve each time I hear him sing. Remembering that it was already his third concert in a row, this was quite an achievement. To cover what he wore, no surprise, he looked again fabulous in a black shiny suit, with black shirt, black tie, that had some grey stripes
We were certainly in for a treat, when Claire Moore entered the stage and sang "Phantom of the Opera" together with Michael. Awaiting this song for the whole night we were not disappointed. They did a fabulous job together and once again I am sure, if Michael will ever do the Phantom, he will be one of the best, if not the best ever!
Phantom of the Opera, was as well my little Waterloo. Taking photos of course my roll was completed within this song. I am used to changing rolls during a song without even looking at the camera. I was just so eager to get them changed within an instant, not to miss a bit of the Phantom. Big mistake. Let me tell you I hate blinking 0's. I closed the camera, the roll was rolled up in it, but instead a lovely 1, a 0 apeared. Three further tries the same, GAH!!!! Someone was certainly turning to aggression, but a look around showed me: There was no window I could possibly throw the camera out of, and I was certainly not strong enough to throw it at the next wall with the appropriate speed this machine sent out of hell deserved. Despite: it was awfully expensive, so, I could still dwell on "This cannot be true." Thoughts. Several concerts, dozens of rolls, this never happened why now? I had to pull it out, obviously I pulled out too much of the roll and had to get it back. What seemed like 1000 eternities later, I found the one and was back in business. Just to find Phantom was almost over and I could relax while Claire sang Think of Me solo. Have you ever tried to kick yourself while sitting? Don't try it won't work. The next sounds showed me, we were back to "All I ask of you", so another chance for nice photos.
Michael thanked Claire afterwards and she left the stage again to the applause of the audience. We were back alone with Michael, not that I complain. He gave us an emotional rendition of "The Rose".
The mood got a bit lighter afterwards again. Michael started to speak about the musicals and how some people tend to think, the musical theatre was dying. He told us, he doesn't think so. And for sure he doesn't hope it will happen next year. The audience was laughing, certainly no one there did not know, what Michael was up to. He then spoke about the old musical movies he grew up with. He spoke about his favourite movies "Mary Poppins", "Aristocats", "Djungle Book" and I was constantly smiling. Though I am 15 years Michael's junior, these are as well the movies I was growing up with and they are all my faves. There was but this one song his mum and Grandma used to sing to him when he was a child. He said he now uses to sing it as well to the little ones around him to put them to sleep. With a cheeky grin he then said, so he was now putting us to sleep. Dream on Michael, I doubt any of the audience members could fall asleep, when you are singing to them. "Hushabye Mountain" was wonderful. I cannot wait to have that released as a single. I have to say I missed the dancing bits, he obviously offered the audience the night before, but well April will come and so will the Opening Night...
Many people thought this was his long awaited return to the theatrical stages, he told us, but it was not. He started to tell us about the Donmar show and with a laugh said, that not many of us, could have had a seat there. Julia said afterwards, she always thought it had to be a wonderful feeling, to say yes, when he asks, if someone was there. I have to say, she was right, it just felt great. Two of my all-time favourites followed. "Padam, Padam" and "Life on Mars". Of course there was no chance in creating the unique atmosphere of the Donmar there, but still, I can never get enough of these songs live.
I was almost shocked, when after this song, still in his finishing note, the masses rushed down to the front. Us, detached? We have to be, cause we did not even know, when the others would start for the stage. We stayed at our seats, as planned and were rewarded with a quite good view.
"Millennium" came, Michael lay down on the piano, slightly altered to the last tour. Btw. I can still not stand listening to Robbie Williams singing this song, though of course he had written it. With Millennium coming there was no doubt the tie would be flying soon.
I guess "Fat bottomed girls" was the song, that should mark the rush to the stage. No chance when everyone already seems to be there. "One Step out Of Time" was not to be missed before Michael shouted out: "it's Christmas". Now the snow really started to fall and created a fantastic christmassy atmosphere. Santa came on stage with a red bag, giving Michael his decorated hat, while he started with his Christmas medley. The snow fell and sometime it even started to snow in the audience. Yes, I admit, that I got some of the "snow" with me, i am mad, I know! What Michael did not give us, was his white cloak. Ok, I admit, it must have been hot in that on stage, but i would have loved to see it, sigh. Were sweets, he then started to throw into the audience really a substitute? Well maybe, if I had caught the one that hit my breast, hummmm. Someone still owes me a sweet J .
It was all too soon over. We were treated with "Help yourself", and with the lost weight and enough encouragement of the audience there was no question in him taking off his jacket. You could feel his pride all over the place. He came finally back after leaving for the last song of this concert, this little Tourette how he called it and the last concert for some time. "have Yourself a merry little Christmas" was the very last we heard from him in a live concert.
Michael emphasized over and over again, that this was his last concert for a time. You could feel he was going to miss the concert stage quite a bit, but there is something to look out for. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. And, well though there won't be time for a tour or something similar next year, there are still the rumours and thoughts of doing a ROC concert next year, so there is even more to look out for!
Fact is: I still don't believe how soon the evening was over. Had the concerts always been that short? I was already missing him, when he left the stage, but there was stilll the stage door to look out for.
Julia and me both got a little bit of the starry feeling, when Julia was waiting for me at the loo and a lady spoke to her about our review of the Donmar and our lovely photo. Strange feeling to be known that well among fans.
Something really nice happened afterwards. Pat, Julia and I were standing in front of the Palladium, talking where to go now for a drink, as a nice lady approached us and handed me a photo, smilingly telling me, she took that of me and Michael. Well it was Michael and me in the background, but lovely. Whoever you are, thank you so much for the photo, such a nice thing to do. Thank you!
Madness? What is it? Temperatures are certainly around freezing degree, we are rather dressed for spring than for winter, and just because we were just dancing in a hot venue, we decide for cold drinks, while Pat the pro takes something hot to drink. We just have to get out into the cold for one minute to discover this decision was: wrong, wrong, wrong. Let's blame it on Michael and his hot show!
As "promised" or maybe rather threatened Michael came out late. He admitted naughtily smiling that he had been drinking and if that was the reason or the great concert, he seemed to be in a fabulous mood, hugging and kissing many people there. Julia was filming the bit and the moment Michael discovered this, he was so nice and waved into the camera and finally even gave her a naughty wink into the camera. All too soon Michael got into the car and left. Well almost. He stopped some metres down the road for some of his long-time fans, who got hugs and kisses. Without mentionning names, it was nice to see, that they are not all too detached, but even had tears in their eyes afterwards (so cute Pat ;-)).
We had to part far too early from Pat and Pam, as our bus just arrived, when we wanted to speak a little more. Giving, we certainly would have had to wait 20 minutes or more, we decided to run after that bus and all too soon, the concert, the night, the time with friends was over.
What else can be said about the weekend? Well in short: Got the musical stages, got Chitty the movie at a decent price, got the fab photos processed, spent an awful lot of money, saw Harry Potter and got Chitty post cards at the cinema. Oh and did I mention: WE GOT OPENING NIGHT TICKETS FOR CHITTY! Ok somewhere back in the circles, but we will be there! YES!!!!
What can I say, now that this definitely will be the last review of this year? Thank you Julia and all the old and new friends, for making this year so special for me. And thank you Michael and Cathy for giving us such a great time. 2001 will forever be enshrined in my mind with great memories. And as 2001 is almost over, there is something great to look out for next year. Everyone have a wonderful Christmas and a happy new Year. Hope to see many of you again next year. Roll on April!