|Saturday, 29th November 2003
What a horrible awakening the next day! We should not have talked that late! And why did we think there is no need to put the alarm clock up? Okay, one of the reasons is, Kerstin was highly panicked the car alarm would go off once more! Maybe not the best ides in the middle of the night (as alarm clock was still in bag in our nerveous car). Basically we woke up, when we usually wanted to be on the road already.
Anyway, it's a b it sad we already have to leave Angela at this point, as it feels like we only just arrived. It's noon, when we sit in our car (which didn't get a name this time!). Shame on us! Waving our good byes to Angela we find ourselves back in the pouring rain! This will be fun. We have an estimated 3 hours until we will arrive at our hotel, check-in there and then another 30 minutes to get to Brighton and that's provided the streets will be empty! So let's be realistic: Our chances to get to the stage door in time are more or less 0! The very sad thing is: We had a brilliant time yesterday with him, as you could read! We enjoyed ourselves and Michael as much as we could, still there is this sad little Ballette sitting in our heads moaning at the thought of not seeing Michael arriving! Pathetic!
Weyhey, we are in Arundel and it's not even 2 pm (I am not going to tell you how we managed that! Wha? Did someone say speed limits? Where?). Only little problem: Kerstin knew, she had forgotten something. Now she knows! She didn't print out the "How to get here" pages for the hotel! Ooooer and Gurrrrrr.. Hey, wait. what's that? YESSSSS, there it is: We found it :-D. We found it, we found it (where is "La Ola" when you need one?).
Park car, get inside without luggage, pay, get keys, get up to check room (wow! The best we ever had!!!), toilet and get out again! Surely they must think us mad, but we can't afford to get our luggage in and try to sort out the stuff we need that night. Rather take all the luggage with us J .
Feeling very chuffed, we easily climb back into the car, nothing can happen now! Michael is even allowed to arrive at 3 pm, now aren't we generous? We are early, we are in time, we are on a good way and only 25 minutes later we are in .. A TRAFFIC JAM IN BRIGHTON!!!! Masses of people wade their way through Brighton's outskirts. Great, we are not even close to the centre and already standing. The signs "No football parking!" don't really cheer us up as we snail our way through to The Centre! Our clock seems to do a sprint: 2:30, 2:40, 2:50.. then a miracle happens, we leave the football fans behind and are able to drive freely! There is hope, we might still see him arrive!
Our calm, patient, detached driver is close to biting into the steering wheel as the next traffic jam crops up! Doesn't help to know, only this way we will be able to have a glimpse on Brighton Pavilion today! Pathetic Germans want to do other sight-seeing, pathetic Germans want to do the "Michael-sightseeing"! It's only rumours Kerstin was on the verge of a nervous breakdown as we had the first glimpse on the pier, exactly knowing we could walk to the Centre in no time! Do you think they'd mind, if we just left our car parked in the middle of the street? We'll get it as soon as Michael's in! Next time we'll take the train! We will! OH stop laughing!
Slowly we are crawling our way to the waterfront. The sight of the burnt out old Pier doesn't help to cheer us up! We now even see the Brighton Centre, so close and yet so far away. 3:30 pm hurra, just pulled into Russell Road a bit scared what we might see there! And we see THE COACH and only a couple of people! Brilliant, for sure he is already there! Bad thing is, we can't even stop and ask.. Well he is in anyway, whom are we kidding. We drive to our car park, drive up and up and up and up and up... What do you reckon, when will we have reached the end of this building? Ahhh.. We are parked, on level 12!
Getting to the venue we are greeted by Iris, a friend from Germany whom we've never met before! Then it's hello to Joan and Sharon and we are just happy there are still there, as of course we want to know how Joan is and give Sharon her picture with Michael taken in Glasgow. We didn't even bother to ask whether he had arrived already! Only several minutes into this meeting someone finally tells us, he's not arrived yet! :-D:-D:-D We don't start mad cheering, mind you grinning very stupidly! Apparantly the coach had been there for ages, but it doesn't stay much longer as suddenly it leaves. Yes, it's going to get Michael, gosh, do we have timing at this part of the tour?
4:15 pm, the coach comes back. In the meantime loads more people have arrived. Being more detached than we are they trusted Michael's 4-ish habbit! The coach reverses into the space in front of us. Dozens of eyes are glued to the door, eagerly awaiting it to open. Nothing happens. You do start feeling slightly . or maybe a bit more than slightly stupid, ridiculous! In the background I hear Joan saying: It's the backing singers for sure! Nay, they would not do that, goes us! Hey, minutes later the doors open and out comes Mr. Michael Ba... Hang on, Michael is blond, but not that blond. His hair is short and curled and he happens to be male, not female. So we have Mrs. Anne Skates. Fair enough, she has to get to work, too!
We are told Michael is supposed to walk down from his hotel. Yeah right, the Backing singers travel in style and the star has to walk through the rain and storm. Fan rule number one: Never trust anything any member of staff tells you. He's ALWAYS just gone, enters another entrance, or arrives in another car .. We've learned to handle these advices with care apart from those of his PA who usually does not want to mislead poor waiting fans.
As we know that, everyone keeps staring in anticipation at the magical door. And yes, he did appear, suddenly, but not out of the said door! He just materialised at the back of the coach, actually being very close already to the stage door (Mind you, we still do not think he walked all the way from the hotel, but rather guess he got out of the other door of the coach).
Brighton stage door is not really a good one. There is not much space between the road and the door itself. Still Michael takes his time and talks to people, especially to Joan. There is not much more he can do and I guess, if you don't stand close to the little walkway you don't see much at all. Yes they even put up barriers and just when we were making smug remarks about us not being hysteric teenage boy-group fans we actually spot two ca. 12-year-old girls. Quite excited ones, one even uttering a little scream when the coach door opens, so sweet!
Michael looked gorgeous once more, wearing his Nike-cap and jacket. We got some nice photos and then he was in again. 4.20 pm: Yes, enough time left to do some shopping. We still need outfits for tonight! We only took emergency outfits with us, but need to buy something "nice" here! You really have great shops in England?
Anyway, we are back in time and even got in through the back! Luckily, we didn't have to walk around the whole building in the storm! We wear identical tops, deep-red and deep-necked and we will be sitting in the front row! Our first real front row! YES! Only one so far and that was Liverpool Summer pops, so far to the side, that we did not even have stage left in front of us! Now we are almost in the centre, slightly to the left side, perfect!
We have a great time before the concert starts, chatting to Iris, Isobel - Angela's lovely friend, Sharon when suddenly the lights go down! Okay, our watches don't seem to be quite right! Hey, at least we won't disturb anyone while running to our front row seats (LOL, sorry, but the excitement is really unbearable ;-)).
Of course Michael asks again for the group flash and wants us to put the cameras away afterwards. He even says, we can get back to taking photos during the party bit,but now it would be only disturbing. Just as the other concerts it worked (more or less). Hardly anyone took flash photos afterwards. Luckily! Actually it does not make much sense anyway, because most people overestimate the use of flash! There is hardly any use, as mostly you are just too far away! We'd even say, it would not be of use in our front row. (btw., none of the photos on the website, at least taken by Just Ball members, were taken with flash! The lighting on the stage is really sufficient!).
So here we are, Michael is introducing us to the "Love Story" section, while he walks across the stage to the left hand side, when a flash hits of. "Put your camera away! I saw you!" He says pointing into the direction of the flash, when close to that one another one goes off. "And you as well!"
Michael is telling us, how boys are dreading the moment, when you have to say something. You just have to tell the person you love about your feelings otherwise it's leading nowhere. But what if the person says. "Oh, that's nice!..... I'm really flattered!" - cringe! And that as boys just don't like to be honest sometimes, they don't like to be vulnerable and they don't like such situations.
We've never seen him act like that (on tour ,that is. In Donmar certainly, yes). Maybe we have been too far back before (right, or furtherest was row e...probably not!) or we got too distracted by those trousers...??(Pathetic!) Never mind, as now we get the acting, all of it. Even though we KNOW it's just water he drinks on stage (okay, so keeps telling us it's wodka, but you know what he's like..), we can see him getting drunk...and more drunk. Drowning in heartache and bitterness. "God Give me Strength"never felt so real and intense. We watch a hurt and desperate man and he breaks our hearts. Then, when he sits down on the stairs just before "Didn't We"suffering from the separation, even with the lights still out and you and his face still hidden in darkness, he is completely in character! And how much into character he is! You just want to jump on that stage (that would be a funny sight! Luckily we keep calm and strong... LOL yeah right), hug him and tell him everything will get better soon! And yes, you want to kick and strangle that woman that gave him so much pain.... in fact, you want to strangle all these stupid women who might have been stupid enough at one point or another to reject Michael Ball.... Uhmmmm, I am sure everyone would! That has to be a fan thing, can it? ;-)
Love Story gets the well deserved standing ovations before Michael leaves the stage, sobbing out loud about the loss of his love, wondering what do you do now! Of course he goes out with his mate Antonio!
The show is brilliant. There are many remarks about it being the second last show! The Magnets already mentionned it several times and obviously they are going to miss the tour.
As the first notes of "Bread of Heaven" start you can't help, but start preparing for the dash to the stage. In a way you can really hate it, but if you want to be at the stage, at the front (having these brilliant seats) and you dont want your stuff trampled over and broken, you just have to. So sorry Michael for appearing unattentive with our heads down to our knees, shoving things under our seats! He switches over to "Swing Low, sweet chariot" in the middle of "Bread of Heaven". We heard about him doing it in past concerts, but he did not in Cardiff.... (wonder why!)
As soon as the song is finished, we find ourselves in the rush to the stage! "You've guessed right! It's party time!" He explains to the probably bewildered members of the audience, who are not regulars. He does not seem to mind as no one waited for an invitation! We are still in the front row, only that these are now directly at the stage!
Kerstin took her camera with her! No way we would have left it under our chairs. And just how brilliant is that? We are here, partying, right under his nose, only inches away from him. Kerstin taking photos every now and then, when Michael stands there, singing, posing for the camera for an eternity! :-D Swoon!
Little did we know, what was to come only seconds after that one brilliant pose and only seconds after we had been in perfect position for "Grab your share", which we did not! Some of you might have heard already: We are bunny outlaws now!
And this is what happened: We are partying, taking the odd photo, when suddenly someone tips Kerstin on the shoulder. Turning, we find ourselves facing one of the security guys. They did not seem to bother, when people were taking photos during the show, with or without flash! Well, they actually bothered us taking some!
We promised to stop taking more photos, though it seems ridiculous, seeing everyone around us, does just the same! Still he insists on us following him out of the auditorium! That was fun, being escorted out just under Michael's nose, seconds after he posed for us twice! What a hassle we thought. We will miss one song. How naive we were. We were led to the venue manager (we guess, he never introduced himself! Someone in charge anyway). And he was persistent that we handed over the film to him. Also that we were professional photographers judging by the size of our lense. He also claimed that the management had pointed us out and maintained that we should go and see them "so they could explain the rules to us!". He said we were breaching copyright and arguing that everyone else was doing just the same was fruitless. He didn't care that some digital cameras could even have better zooms. Of course we would never ever hand over our treasured film and we were all too happy to meet Michael's management, plus we didn't want to miss more of the concert. The hassle of losing our front row position was enough to cope with!
After several minutes of arguing, he finally took us to his management, we thought. Actually we never thought we'd get there in the first place, as we were led all around the venue, which seemed to take forever, especially with Michael partying. Interesting view it was though with first people leaving and the Magnets sitting there in the bar. Still hearing Michael all the time, you can't help, but wonder if he'd miss you, if you just went back in through the next entrance.
Sadly we never got to see any of Michael's management. We were said to wait in front of a staff only door, which was obviously very close to the stage, as we could hear Michael most clearly! Imagine the frustration as we KNEW what the outcome of all this had to be! So we waited. And Michael sang on. And people were partying on our front row positions!
The seconds seemed like hours, but finally he returned. His whole demeanour changed. He seemed a bit embarassed. And we were awaiting his apologies, smiling smugly. He said "They seem to be in a very good mood today, they let you keep the film." We were tempted to exclaim "Oh, really, what a surprise!!!!" But we thought the better of it and just smiled and said "Thanks!" and also "Can we get back through another entrance? As there is no way we miss another second of this concert!" He then asked whether we could hand in the camera to collect later. We flatly refused saying we want to be out fast afterwards and have to meet friends. No way! So he resigned and showed us a shortcut to get back in. We ended up next to row C in the middle aisle, which was not too bad! And actually witnessed "Me Ol' Bamboo" in the Chitty-Medley.
The rest of the concert was fine and uninterrupted. Of course we did not take any more pictures. What else can you say: We had to calm down several friends at the stage door asking what happened and truly afraid we were upset. Well, we were that we missed parts of the concert, lost our places... for nothing really! But as a whole it was quite funny and we were laughing it off! We could actually show everyone the staff only door because it was next to the stage door! Scott came out after a while, telling us Michael would be late, but that he'd come out, say good-bye though not to sign anything.
And so he did. Telling us that they'd have a band party and how much he enjoyed this tour and how special it had been and how sad he was that it all finished the next night. Bless him!
We had a short walk on the beach with Iris, but with all the wind and cold going on we soon said good-bye and drove back to our hotel .This really was a night of strange encounters: First there was this security guy and now we enter our shabby multi-storey-car park and suddenly this wet and grey room is filled with heavenly music: They actually play Mozart in the car park! What a night!
A mazing how empty Brighton's streets can be! We were back home in 20 minutes not breaking any speed limits - we swear! Michael should think about late night concerts!