Harrogate 2001 ~ 1st Night

A week of a lifetime:

6 frozen pizzas
6 Mars ice-bars
4 sandwiches
4 McChicken Meals
uncountable  Kitkats
dozen litres of Lilt, Water and lemonade
4  episodes of Coronation Streets
uncountable hours of British TV
379  miles self-driven on British streets
11 rolls
3  unbelievable concerts
and after 11 days:   unbearable Michael withdrawal symptoms!

This is in short what can be said about my week in England, but maybe not too interesting J . So here goes the full story:

I love the feeling, when I start my trips to England to see Michael. The excitement I feel then is unbelievable. And I felt prepared, although I did not even make myself lists this time. Not one list with all the things I need to take with me, cause I pictured: the tickets, the camera, the lenses, my passport and my credit card is all I need. Everything else I can get in England as well. And this time I got myself some alternative trains, just in case I miss the connection train, that will get me the last kilometres to Dusseldorf airport! Before the tour our first train was late, I missed the next and took then one, which did not stop at the airport. Nice feeling standing there thinking: Oh nice, bye station! Of course I was not late this time, but the German train company (the only one in Germany) thought it might be a good idea to keep life spicy and check if I did a good job with the train, so they just cancelled mine, but I could prove: I did a good job and was finally at the airport. Nothing should come between me and Michael!

First Friday of the school summer holidays in my country. So it was far more crowded than I have seen the airport before. But hey who cares? I have got a great feeling, I know everything will be ok with my flight and it is just perfect! I touch down in London Stansted just in time and it is a feeling of being back home when I leave the plane. The shuttle got me to the luggage and I searched for the correct transport band, seeing we were sharing it with another flight. I was early, therefore I thought loo might be a good idea. So I walked into the direction, with a suitcase taking the same way on the lane. Hummmm, strange this looks almost like yours! No, can't be, not that early.. Hum, but still looks like it. I am searching for more hints if it might be mine, although it is far too early for this. I mean can I take it? And with some bad luck the real owner is just coming thinking I am going to nick his suitcase? Gah, hum, ok I'm gonna be strong and take it and surprise: it's really mine. Wow everything is working for me now. Well not everything. I mean I got my suitcase now, but loo is cancelled until Julia is there. Cause an announcement reminds me, that luggage should not be left alone on the airport or it might be destroyed! Do I really want to take the suitcase with me to loo? Do   I want to have it destroyed? I mean, my new self-confidence tells me I have my credit card and nothing else matters .. No I don't think so. Ok so let's get out of here!  

Stansted likes to make me mad bit! I mean they are really great. They told me already at 10:42 that Buzz from Berlin HAS LANDED at 10:50 am. I am impressed, Stansted employs clair-voyants! Of course it gets finally 11:15 am, until Julia enters the main hall and my panic of her not getting to the plane in time is gone. A big hug, big smiles and I am happy to have her back finally, not even believing, that we will have the next two weeks together and will see Michael already tomorrow. Not bad, if you think that just three months earlier I was kind of depressed cause I made last year a big promise to myself: Never letting a year pass without seeing Michael live! And then it rather seemed for some time this year he won't be doing anything in England (already gave up all hope of him coming to Germany one day!). But now we are here in our favourite country and the countdown has started. We feel good, we feel great, nothing can harm us, everything will be just perfect... NOT!

Did I tell you I hate being 24 years old? Oh I really hate it, cause it means, that I am not 25! Oh really this girl has problems you think? Yes she has! We get to the Hertz counter and have to wait more than an hour until we finally get to be the first people in the queue.

Spirits are high, I am still in a good mood! Still! The lady at the counter takes all my details (luckily we reserved a car way before this weekend!). And when she is finally almost ready to give us the keys she looks at my driving licence and says: "You are not 25, are you?" "Uhm, no I am not!" "How old are you then?" "24" "Oh, I am sorry, but then I cannot give you a car." My jaw dropped down, my spirits were low and I was devastated. I expected everything, but for sure I did not expect that four months and 19 days would part me from our Ford Focus! A great situation: Hertz had a car, but would not give it to me, cause of my age and the other car rentals would have given a car to me, but did not have any! How on earth should we get to? Well to make a long story, we checked the trains to find out about the possibility of going there by train. Can someone tell me why a one way ticket is 66 pounds, while a return ticket is just 68? Would have been just wonderful, well, if we did not have had to go from Hartlepool to Liverpool and from there back to London! Hmpf! But the guy at the ticket counter was quite nice and searched for us quite a bit, how our chances would be to do all this by train, but they were not really great. We told him we were desperate, because we could not hire a car and what he did then surprised me and I do not think I could see something like that happen in Germany. He went away and came back after two minutes with a phone number of another car rental company and told us, we should phone them, it might work! My jaw dropped really. We were not lucky here I have to say, but I was really surprised that he did so much to help us.

The last chance we saw was going there by bus. At least Pat was nice enough to collect us from Darlington in the middle of the night (thank you so much for it, and all the other help you offered Pat!!!). What I learned this evening: Be careful with your wishes, they might come true! Julia and me were saying before that it is just a pity we cannot get to London during our time in England and well because of this desaster we got! We had to go to London and from there our bus started with destination Darlington! The true punishment was the moment we were driving over Oxford Street and everything was so close and still we knew we could not see any of the shops, boooohoooo sob. We were strong! YES!

With one hour delay we could finally hug Pat in Darlington (thank you!!) and were on our final miles to Hartlepool. "Looks like we've made it. Look how far we've come my baby!" (You're still the one is my theme song for the whole week!)  

You should have seen in what a room I have passed that night. I mean I am used to Michael posters on the walls of my bedroom, but honestly: How can one expect me to sleep when I look up and see a tour poster where Michael is wearing leather trousers? I must have been able to make it, cause I woke up much to early and before I could properly think I was showered and in a car with Pat, Stella and Julia on the way to Harrogate.

I thought we were much too early at the venue to meet Michael, but quite surprised to see that already around 1.30 pm there was a big crowd waiting for Michael! So I did not expect anything, just hoped to see some of my friends for the first time or again and prayed for at least some good Michael photos.

So we went to the other fans and met many people I have learnt to know through the forum. It was great seeing Gill and Maureen from the fan club again as well as meeting Sue Gellett, Pat Collier for the first time. But it was not very long until a Mercedes made its way up the approach. What happened then was kind of a daze and I still cannot believe it. I know this all might sound not so interesting for all those people who had the chance of really meeting and speaking to him, but it means quite a lot to me.

Still being in this "I don't believe I am going to see him, tonight, live, again"-mood. Therefore it seemed rather like a pleasant dream, when he got out of his car and was immediately surrounded by dozens of fans. No chance in getting any closer, so I just stood there, Walked around a bit, took some photos, when I could see him and found myself finally at the stairs leading on to the stage door. And he was getting closer. I do not know how, I never had the idea I could say anything to him and well rather had even less the idea of asking him for a photo of the two of us! He was there standing just a metre away from me, when I felt Julia pushing me even closer. Lol I must have been mad thinking about it now, cause I even tried to escape a bit. What did I think he was going to do, if he saw I was standing just a grab away? Biting me? (Nice thought though J ) At least the professional part in me still remembered to take photos (not that I thought just a bit what I was doing, I could not think at that stage). I just had him focused in my camera, I could have got a nice picture of his profile, really close. But I did not get it, cause without any warning he turned suddenly and looked at me, a broad smile forming, when he saw the camera (unfortunately I hit the button, just the break of a second after he turned, so you cannot really see the smile I got afterwards L !). If you want to know what this guy, did to me, see the pic I took, not being able to keep a person in focus, who is just standing in front of me!

You think so many times: What am I going to say, if I have the chance. And you make your plans, but then this really happens, really really really! And you just stand there, looking like you have to be the most stupid person ever. Through a daze I heard Stella saying something like "Meet Kerstin from Germany!" (Oh yes, right that's me, that's me, that's me J . Great Kerstin is my name! And from Germany, yes that's me as well J ). I hope, that I managed at least to smile a bit, please, I don't want to look too stupid, when Michael Ball is giving me a smile, not letting me out of his eyes! (oh my, eyes, blue eyes! The same blue eyes, Cathy, Emma and Connor are just so used to are looking at me, me, me !!!!!). Broad smile: "Hi Kerstin from Germany!". (oh my god, oh my god, oh my god! He said my name, he said my name! I know what it sounds like when he says my name!  

I will drink your cup of poison .. 
Take me now before I change my mind

  If I die now I will die happily was all I thought then! But thank God, he did not listen at that moment J . (Say something, say something. Mr. Michael Ashley Ball, centre of your adoration stands in front of you. Say something smart. Go on! Ask him one of the questions several people had, ask him how Cathy is, ask him, ask him how Connor is, ask him if he is happy,. ask him if he wants to marry you, tell him about Laura (8 months old niece and god-daughter), tell him about Lizzy, (4 months old Tibetan Terrier) just say something). "Hi!". (Wow well done, Kerstin! What an eloquent person you can be! Tony Ball (Michael's father), highly acclaimed after-Dinner-Speaker will be impressed, by your abilities. Respect: Michael Ball centre of adoration. The person, you have overcome so many fears for, just to see him and you don't offer to be his PA without the need of being paid, you don't offer to have his children, but you say hi! Really impressive! Do something, do something! He did not leave, you are being the most stupid person on earth and he is still standing there. Certainly thinking you are a bit mad, but at least he does not seem to see you as a danger, he is still there, he is still there, still standing,   smiling at you, do something! No matter what, just anything! Gurr, I am obsessed, I am obsessed, the ghost of good behaviour got into me! What does the ghost do? Oh my god! My hand is moving, my hand is moving, it cannot, please no).

Witnesses later reported, that Kerstin Wohlgemuth's hand raised. There was no evidence why she did it, neither pushed her something! There is nothing more they could say about this strange behaviour. There is no written evidence, that ever a fan tried to shake Michael Ball's hand. We don't know much about this strange abnormity, but Mulder and Scully got the file and they started examining this new X-File immediately. As soon as we have news, we will let you know about it!

Michael Ball looked at Kerstin for a moment, then he took her hand. Other witnesses later on claimed, they could not believe Michael Ball was just going to shake her hand and they thought they'd seen something in his eyes, that he planned to give it to her fully. To let her melt, to let the few bits, that were left of poor Kerstin melt instantly - and he did!

I could feel him taking my hand, raising it a bit and saw him   bowing down. All I remember then was he was holding my hand with his soft, smooth hand and kissing mine. His velvet lips touching my skin. I really thought I had to faint. (Say something, say something!) . "Wow, thank you!" (gurr, would it look unladily to kick myself in front of God, oh sorry, Michael Ball, but this moment, god and Michael were one person!) He smiled at me once more, then he had to leave, saying he is going to sing some new songs, not that I was able to think about songs for the next hours, just heard angels sing all the time.

After I mobbed myself from the ground and managed to stand steadily we went to the car, we had a nice picnic on the gras Well the others had, no one can expect me to eat anything, not now! I was flooded by hormones, my body was going wild. I could drink something at least. LOL, I wish I could! Don't think drinking out of a glas is easy! It is not! I had to learn that lesson, when I tried to drink and spilt more over my shirt than I managed to get inside my mouth! My hands were shaking so much! At least Pat and Stella had a good laugh. The latter one even asked me holding a kind of wet tissue, if I wanted to wash my hand. EXCUSE ME! This hand, was just kissed by Michael Ball! Who on earth can expect me to wash it? ( Confession: I did several hours later, just before the concert, but feeling bad! ;-))  

Back at the hotel, and Pat meeting some friends, suddenly, while we were sitting in the lobby, someone called my name. I turned and did not believe it! Bine! I have to say we have been writing each other almost every day for 26 months now and I have never met her before. Although she is the one of my friends living the closest to me! And where do we have to meet? Of course we have to go to the north of. It was unbelievable, and Bine, I am so glad, we finally met and I hope it was not the last time we met (LOL and I am not talking about Donmar!). We had so much to talk about and I forgot my good behaviour (so the devil had left me in the meantime!), cause we talked on German, all of the time, not giving Stella the slightest chance to understand what we were saying. And I really apologise for this. It's really not the best behaviour, but in my excitement I completely forgot about it. We had to part finally, cause we all needed to get ready and dressed for the night. Me being brave for the first time and helping myself into a black transparent shirt!

It was not long until we finally got to our seats (in fact the wrong, cause I thought I knew where ours were and did not check the numbers! Uhum). Finally we got to our seats, hearing that Tony Ball  was there! I looked back searching for him and this time really found him  

It was 7:40 pm still many seats empty and people were flooding in, so I did not think too much. Until the lights went on. Strange! Is this a new custom? Does Michael plan to do his concerts now with full light on the audience? Humm. Then someone from the staff came on stage, asking for our attention saying there, was a fire alarm and he asked as to leave the building as soon as possible through the next exits (LOL, great, we had seen the fire exit plan that afternoon! ; J Not that I really remembered where we had to go to, but we left. The selfish part of me hoped the concert could go on like it should be. When we stepped outside we could see that the whole band, including Annie, Mick and Shena were standing outside the venue as well. No sign of Michael though which I interpreted as a good sign. Looking at the other side I could see a fire engine and I heard finally the sound of the fire alarm inside the building. However, there was not much action going on. We hoped this might be a good sign and were already joking about what Michael might be doing now. Maybe phoning Cathy and telling her about the fire alarm, things like that. Until Julia's expression finally froze and she said. "Fire. Certainly not the best for Michael." Just the moment I realized the fire they had in their house shortly before Christmas last year and I started praying this all was just a false alarm and were happy to see that the firemen seemed to get back to their engine, finally smiling and making jokes! We were finally allowed to get back inside at maybe 8:20 pm. This point not as much for the concert to really take place, but rather, that it meant there really was no fire or at least nothing we should be worried about, or even more important Michael should be worried about!

I said before: be careful with what you wish! After the show Pat told us, that when they sat down, she said, she was now a happy bunny and can go again (cause she met a person, she wanted to meet, already before the show!). Just the moment she finished, the lights went on and we were asked to leave! Pat, please be careful with what you say! J

At 8:30 pm finally the lights faded away, musicians entered the stage, to the cheering of the fans and the intro started. We were here, Michael was here and the show was finally about to start! YES!!!!! The first notes of "Let the rivers run" were played and we could hear Michael sing, even before he came on stage. He entered and everyone, well most people were on their feet, cheering screaming, and having a good time. Much to the laughter of the audience, he came on stage with a helmet and a fire-extinguisher, saying he wanted to be prepared.  

He looked gorgeous, just like in the afternoon (well though now with Make up on. Think he looks better without!). He was wearing a white suit, that seemed to be a bit too big. The black shirt was just about right for his body and you could see he lost quite a bit of weight. He looked adorable tanned, his cheeks seemed to be   a bit burned (should it scare me I did see all this now that he had make-up on and was quite a bit away from me, but did not see it before, when he was just standing without make up in front of me?).

I am not going to analyze each song, just the ones, that amazed me most (well I guess it will end in each song J ):

First half:
Let the rivers run
Everybody's talkin'
You're still the one
Show Me
Can you feel the love tonight
Not while I'm Around
If tomorrow never comes
Boy from nowhere
(Something inside) So strong
Prepare Ye / Gethsemane

Second half:
Send in the clowns
Think Twice
Never coming back
Someone Else's dream
Walking in Memphis
No matter what
Empty Chairs at empty tables
OH! What a circus
Any dream will do
Why haven't I heard from you
Fat bottomed girls
One step out of time
Blues Brothers Medley
Help Yourself
Love changes Everything

Michael obviously did not rehearse too much before the concert. It rather seemed as if they just started with everything the very same day. I mean not that big of a problem, cause they have done most of the songs before. But it was so cute, when you are listening to the songs and in your mind you are going with him through the lines. He mixed three songs up concerning the lyrics. "You're still the one", he sang "You're still the one I run to" where it should have been "kissed goodnight". Something went wrong with Think Twice and also in Oh! What a circus. He moaned all night and all day J . Not really impressive and the kind of mistakes you just hear, when you really listen closely. And during the party bit in the ending he completely mixed up the order of songs, but it was really cute and fun to watch.

He was in a fantastic mood the whole night. He seemed to be so happy and mentioned this being the first proper concert for quite some time, obviously being happy to be back on stage! He said, that after all the trouble before the concert could start the following song was just about to be appropriate. Starting with the lines "Looks like we've made it, look how far we've come my baby" J : Then he told us about the much anticipated "My Fair Lady" that is going to open soon in the West End. Martine McCutcheon will be in the lead role. He was proud being one of the first to offer her the chance to sing in his show (Ball in the Hall in 1998!). He said, this was a really tough part for her. Nevertheless he will be going to the opening night, before he said. He will be doing a song from the show now ( Yes, show me, show me, show me! OH please sing show me!) . They are going to do it a bit differently to how it is done in the show (YES YES YES!!!! It is Show me!) . And what a show he showed us J . At some part between two songs, he drank a bit and then suddenly said "I drank too fast. How attractive." And everyone was just going: Yeah! Just shows how poor we are, doesn't it? I mean many of the husbands, would love to know we found it attractive with them J

He then introduced us to Not while I'm around . Saying it was in the show sung by a man to his child (obviously this was not right, and the next night he said it differently). But seeing him speaking about how you should just imagine singing this song to your child was simply too much. He had this cute look on his face and you could just see he was thinking of Connor. Lucky little boy, I just loved the thought of Michael, singing it to him, when he gets to bed! A beautiful song and I have to say I envy everyone, who is probably going to hear it in Audley End! He had to start again, cause someone was on stage, disturbing. As I had my eyes, through the camera on Michael, I do not know what really happened, hope someone can help me out of my misery. Just got that Michael said, when that guy was leaving again. "I told you I am not going to sing it to you!".  

Certainly the highlight followed then. The beginning sounded familiar, I knew this song was new, but I also knew I have heard it before (Hello? Yes well I hope you mean, what the strange person writing here, wants to say! He did not record it before!) . I am lacking for words to describe Boy from Nowhwere ! It was breathtaking, amazing. His voice was absolutely on top form! And he just put everything he had into this song and it was worth it. I got goosebumps and shivers running down my spine. When he finished he closed his eyes, stood there centre stage and what he did not see: many people got up from their seats and he got long standing ovations. I waited desperately for him to open his eyes and when he did, he was completely overwhelmed, by seeing so many people standing. He smiled and was truly chuffed, and it was just cute to see his reaction!  

I was hopping up and down in my seat when he did his introduction for Prepare Ye / Gethsame. I wanted to have this song and he did it, YES! Telling us, that he earned a 75 pounds minimum equity for it and that has not changed much since (Of course not J . Just that old articles said he earned 95 J , ok not that much of a difference). Just so cute when he said: "Gates opened. I was centre stage, the spot light hit me - which I liked!" grinning all over his face until the first sounds of Prepare Ye were played and he went on with another great rendition of finally Gethsame. I hope I will never get used to this song and more important that I will never get used to hearing his hard breathing, when the music stops for a moment. First half was over far too soon and he left the stage once more with standing ovations.

Back on our seats not too much later then band came back and started playing again. I did not know this song before, well yes I knew it, but not that well that I could say: Oh it's Send in the clowns just by listening to these bits! But I knew when he came back, wearing a black suit, white shirt (both a bit big) and my favourite glitzy tie! He looked again gorgeous! (Quelle surprise!). It was a fabulous rendition of the song and all I can say is: If he really just sang the songs the same afternoon for the very first time in concert rehearsals, he just did a fab job!

His own three songs were once again part of the concert and one of my highlights. As he did not mention Cathy after Just When Julia and me knew she was not there in the audience. It seems he always dedicates the song to her, when she was there! I was so delighted he did them all again. I hope he will let us see more of his writing talent in the future, although certainly not for the next CD. He said it will be again a Musicals CD, but certainly not called Musicals II, cause he wanted to be original! He said the working title at the moment is "Romancing the stage" and it should be released around September! I hope in time for Donmar, then I would be able to buy it in England!

Some time during the concert he mentioned, that his father was also there somewhere in the audience, "And the lovely Jan"

What followed than was -   sorry if I am stepping on some peoples' toes here - the worst thing during an otherwise perfect night! Although I have to say it was also a bit of a mistake by Michael, just by not being careful with what he said. We were in the middle of the second half and I know everyone was eager to rush to the stage, so were we! We had aisle seats and I hoped to get a bit closer! Michael started to say: "Are you ready to..." And he could not finish the sentence, because within an instant, some people started rushing to the stage. Not too many as I remember in the beginning. He then said. "No go back to your seats. You are far too early!" And I think he even pointed at some people. I thought they would go back! I would have never dared to get up again, if he said that to me! They did not and more and more people rushed to the stage, while Julia and me stayed in our seats! It was more than obvious, that Michael was quite angry on what had just happened, when the band started to play and I heard it was Any dream will do. Obviously he wanted to say: "Are you ready to sing with me!", but he did not have the chance. We all know how high Michael's standards regarding his voice are! So many other singers were proud to say that was their best, but what followed was a Michael, I had the impression, who put not much into the song for the first half! He was still angry and shaking his head more than once! It took him half of the song to get back to the common version of this song. And I really regret, that I could not hear anyone singing with him. I think at this part a bit of respect for his wishes would have been better. As I said, sorry, if I stepped on anyone's toes here, just my point of view. I could also party from our seats, when we finally got up after the song, but I think, this all spoilt the fun, of singing along and just having fun for some minutes!

The concert ended with the usual partying bit and I was happy that Michael could get into the party mood. I just love this bit and loved his dancing. He was doing a perfect show and we had quite a bit of fun partying and dancing with him. When he got his sunglasses I could see they were really expensive (Do I get to become an expert on sunglasses, that I can see from row L his glasses are expensive? Well it seems so!). I just knew he would not throw them and he did not, but put them neatly aside! It was no question what we wanted during Help Yourself. You could see how much he enjoyed our screams and knowing that we just wanted him to pull off the jacket, which he did much to the cheers of the audience. He looked just gorgeous! When he came back he paid his tribute to the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, after all this was a charity concert, until he started to sing his last song: Love changes everything. Seldomly I enjoyed it as much, as this night, standing there arm in arm with my best friend Julia, having Michael sing this beautiful song to us. But sad, that the perfect day was just over like that. I did not expect too much outside for waiting, when Michael left, just too many people there!

We got outside waiting there for Michael to come out. In the meantime we saw Tony again and again. Who told us finally that Michael already left. He was completely exhausted and I understand this! I am not sure if he can do such concerts in a tour! I don't want to know how demanding such a show is for a professional singer. But well that is just our Michael.

We went back to the hotel for a moment. Where Pat grabbed me suddenly after speaking to another person and then introducing me finally to Debbie! I could not believe our third try finally worked. It was so great, to meet you finally Debbie. It was great talking to you and I wish we had had some more time, but I guess this won't be the last time we will see each other!   Despite all the other people I had met that day, including Fran B, Trudy, Ros, Cherie before the concert started and all the others I am sure I forgot to mention. The night was over much too soon and we were on the road again, back to Hartlepool and I was floating on my cloud. The day was as perfect as it could have been I guess, cloud nine was mine and who knows, whenever I will leave it again!


04/09/2004 14:32

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