1st September 2002 by Pat Collier
He flew through the air with the greatest of ease.......... the daring Michael Ball on the flying trapeze................That is the end of the day so lets start at the beginning.............
I have just arrived home from another brilliant weekend down in London to see the best ever ROC concert that I have ever seen.
Sunday saw SueG, MarieR, Babs, Bernie (our great chauffer) and myself on an early start down the motorway to London to see Michael and guests in another ROC concert. There were five of us in the car all excitedly chattering....well at least four of us were whilst Bernie got a vocal assault on his ears, all chatting about what we though might happen that night. But what did occur surpassed anything we had imagined.
After quickly meeting up with Susan May at our hotel we quickly unpacked , showered and got ourselves ready for the much talked about pending ROC concert.
We arrived down in Arygle Street/Carnaby Street, but thanks to an earlier text from Cherie we knew we had missed Michael going in to the theatre. We met up with Caroline H, who we had arranged to meet and with TraceyB and her hubby Phil. After chatting to other fans that were in the area of The Shakespeares Head pub, and at this stage I will not mention names as throughout the day there was too numerous to mention.......suffice to say it was great to meet up with so many old and new made friends. After a short while we all went off for a meal before we met up with other forumites inside Shakespeares Head at 5.15. That pub must be thanking Michael Ball for all the extra takings they have been taking over these last months.
At nearly 7pm we decided to make our way to the theatre and to await Michaels concert. The first surprise was to have my programme sold to me by Lord Scrumptious. Apparently a lot of the Chitty cast had given their night off to support Michael in his ROC concert by selling programmes around the theatre and by collecting cash in buckets.
We found our seats down in the stalls and settled ourselves down, you could sense the buzz of excitement that was generating around the theatre.
At 7.30 sharp the lights went down and Anthony Andrews appeared on stage to introduce the proceedings of the evening. He spoke of ROC and made passing comments about a singer called Michael ..............with the audience providing him with the name he chose to forget......Ball. He told us we were in for surprises, and thanked us for our support to ROC, and asked that we would all generously support ROC by buying programmes and given anything we could to the bucket collection.
At this point David Oram from the Gynaelogical Oncology Centre at Barts Hospital came on stage. He talked of what ROC was, how it had been started, how it had been supported greately by Michael and Cathy efforts, what had been achieved to date, and what it hoped to achieve in the future. On a lighter note he said he was not use to being in this type of theatre.......The Palladium, which brought laughter from the audience who knew him to be more at home in a surgical theatre. David spoke of the great commitment that Michael gives to ROC, and how he just has to turn up on the night when he has had that call from Michael and Cathy that another ROC concert is on.
Anthony Andrews came back on stage and started to ask if he could smell singer........well that was it, the suspense of waiting for Michael to appear was about to be realised. He added that it was usually a phone call that summoned him to this evening and that was it. Phone bleeps could be heard over the speakers and then Michaels voice leaving message on answerphones. After each call you could here Michael comment..........that 'bugger' never gets back to me and she is never in when you call.
The music of 'Hot Stuff' started up and and all eyes must have been glued to that black drop cloth for sight of Michaels appearance. Suddenly the voice of Michael started with 'Sitting here.................................', the audience rose to their feet clapping and after what seemed ages Michael appeared, dressed in the familiar white suit and pale blue shirt, on stage to a wonderful standing ovation.
That was the start of a stupendous evening of ROC. It would be an understatement to say That Michael had The Palladium rocking. The evening was a long evening, and to remember all the songs in the correct order is impossible , though I do hope someone will have taken notes.....LOL
After singing 'Hot Stuff' Michael spoke of ROC and what he hoped that evening would bring to help the charity. He thanked Cathy for all her organising and for designing the programme. On the topic of programme I must say it has got to be the best programme that has been put out for ROC. It has some wonderful family pictures over two pages of Michael, Cathy, Connor and Grace, and some excellant pictures of Michael. Michael also mentioned that ROC was like a family commitment and that David Oram had also delivered both Connor and Grace, making all the persons more connected.
Michael went on to sing 'Just When' but not before he talked of how much it meant to him. He spoke of writing it with the support of Brian Kennedy (a good friend of Michael and Cathy)on a beatiful island in Malaysia, when family and friends were on holiday and at the wedding of Emma and Dean. He dedicated it to Cathy who was sat out in the audience, and I have to say I have never seen Michael sing it before with the feeling and sentiment he did that night, it was very touching.
'Can You Feel The Love', a particular favourite of mine and 'Walking In Memphis' followed before Michael introduced Brian Kennedy on to the stage.
We were then entertained with two brilliant duets from Michael and Brian, who have two very different voices, but ones that compliment each other perfectly. They sang 'Lift The Wings' from Riverdance, and what a very pleasant surprise it was, to have it has a duet and not as a solo from Michael. 'Get On With Your Short Life' followed, and this was performed brilliantly, but not before Michael got a fit of giggles and asked Brian if he had wrote this song for him. The pair of them were dancing round the stage during this song and you could tell that they were having a 'ball'.
After the duets Michael left the stage and Brian entertained us with two very haunting Irish songs with just the aid of his guitar. He sang the lovely song 'I wish I was in Carrackfergus' (sp) and another song from one of his albums.
After Michaels returned on stage and during the first half of the show, Anton Rodgers came marching on stage in similar style to that of Grandpa Potts. Anton said how pleased he was to be there supporting ROC, and how he had first seen Michael performing at The Dominion theatre last year. He then went on to talk of Chitty the car, and how they called her Martine, as they never knew when she was going to work, a little jibe at Martine McCutcheon's time on stage in My Fair Lady. Michael was sat behind Anton on the stage and by now was in fits of laughter at what Anton was saying. I think it was then that Anton wanted to invite on stage Maureen and Gill from the fan club to present a cheque for over £11,000 that had been raised at the recent Party of Michael and the fan club.
Michael then continued to sing the very poigniant song 'The Rose' but not before he talked of and remembered Angela McGowen who this song was dedicated to.
The 'Boy From Nowhere', what is now one of Michaels anthems, then brought the first half to an end. At the end Michael received the now familiar standing ovation.
After the interval Michael made his return on stage in unfamiliar fashion, he was hoisted across, and down on stage in the Chitty toilet (India). You could see Michael in fits of laughter as he was guided down and burst out of the door to sing 'Let The Rivers Run'.
Michael was now dressed in the suave black silky suit, and he then went on to say that he was going to sing two lullabies and made reference to children, and how we should cherish them, in light of recent weeks happenings. He sang 'Hushabye Mountain' and during this song small lights dropped down on stage and the whole front of the stage could be seen small twinlking lights giving the impression of a twinkling night sky. 'Not While I'm Around' followed bringing the very poigniant songs to an end.
At some point in this part of the show Michael performed the song 'Something Inside So Strong' which he started singing at the top of the steps on stage before finishing on center stage.
There was the action on stage of a piano being put in place, leaving us all wondering just what we were going to get next. It was at this point Michael said that twelve months ago he had ben performing at The Donmar, and that he would like to bring on stage Jason Carr his pianist from The Donmar. Miachel left the stage for a few seconds to return wearing a very glittery silver jacket which he said was better to play the part. He then said that he had sung at The Donmar a very cleverly put together medley of songs, and that he was going to try and recreate that medley. Try he did, and it was tremendous success, he did a little play acting during this medley when he was getting near the end. He pretended to be gasping for breath and to reach the notes , but we all know Michael does not need to try he just does. He did comment at the end that he was'knackered', and he did get another standing ovation after this terrific medley. During this small recreation of Alone Together he then went on to perform ' Padam Padam' and then 'Is There Life On Mars' with great gusto.
During this second half Michael introduced on stage the brilliant Lesley Garrett, and what chemistry there was between the two of them, when they sang the duet of 'Phantom Of The Opera'.
Lesley then went on to sing two solo songs, 'Wishing You Were Somewhere Here Again' and the beatiful song 'Standing On Holy Ground'. When she had finished she received the well deserved applause.
During this second half Michael performed the very popular song 'This Is The Moment' which proved to be very popular with the audience.
The orchestra then started playing the intro to the next song, whilst Michael started walking up the steps. Suddenly Michael turned laughing, and saying that the band were playing two different songs and they would have to start again.
Again they started and this time got it right....... 'Millenium' followed and it was here Michael began to give some rather raunchy actions, showing again just how good he feels about himself and his new found fitness.
Most people were now on their feet clapping and dancing along to Michaels singing. 'One Step Out Of Time' was next on Michaels song list.
Michael then began to say how he thought the next songs showed what he thought was the best musical in The West End. It was here that Michael did an amazingly clever thing. The band set off with the music 'We Will Rock You' and we were all a little puzzled at this. That was until Michael began singing Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to this music, along with the familiar clapping and outstretched arm movement that accompanies We Will Rock You. As the whole audience got in to the clapping rythm, Michael then went on to sing Chitty in different style. It was absolutely amazing!! As if that wasn't enough a very different part 'Truly Scrumptious', 'Chu Chi Chu Chi Face', 'POSH', 'Me Ol Bamboo' and even 'Grow The Roses' were all performed to rock music. This really was a marvelous piece of musical direction and brought a very loud response from the audience at the end of the Chitty medley and a very giggling Michael.
By now the night was drawing to an end and Michael again reminded us what to do if we wanted something.......'Help Yourself', this he sang in fine Michael style, actions and all.
Michael then left the stage to great applause, only to return and to bring Lesley, Brian and Anton back on stage and to bring Dean , Shena and Anna to front stage to all take a bow. He then sang 'Love Change Everything' and again told people to join in, to which the audience responded by singing and holding arms aloft and swaying.
Again Michael left the stage only to return and sit on the floor at the front of the stage, and jokingly laying flat on the floor to see if those up above could see him. He then dedicated the next and his last song to all his fans, 'You Made Me Love You'.
Now before the concert a rumour had been going round, that Michael was to go up in the 'Childcatchers' net at the end. Well what followed was truly fantastic, they brought on stage, not a net, but a huge trapieze swing and Michael sat on this , was strapped in and then ............He flew through the air with the greatest of ease , that daring Michael Ball on the flying trapieze. Yes Michael was hoisted up, laughing and waving down and around at people has he was hoisted up to the roof of The Palladium.
As Michael disappeared through the hole in the roof that ended what I feel was the most spectacular and amazing ROC concert ever.
Can I give thanks to SueG who has helped me try and remember the songs of the night