Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of weeks. After a few weeks taking it easy. Mine were nice and busy, once again. Just how I like it. My good friend. The lovely and very talented Mike Sterling is currently on tour in Evita. Due to my hectic schedule. The only time I could get to see the show was the other week. When it was in Great Malvern.
I decided to make a night of it, so I booked a hotel there. It was the first time I had visited the place. I got the train there and arrived just before five o’clock in the afternoon. It is practically built on a big hill. Therefore wherever you go. You are either going uphill or downhill.
My hotel was about a ten minute walk both downhill and uphill from the station.
I checked in and went up to my room. I do not mean to sound at all snobbish. But it was a Wetherspoons owned hotel. I had no idea that they even owned them. Therefore I will be totally honest. I was not really expecting much. However it was very nice. The rooms were brilliant. And the view of the countryside through the window was amazing. The staff were also great. I was well looked after there.
Once I had recovered from the shock of it all being much nicer than I expected. I thought I would watch a bit of television before going for dinner. I stumbled across an episode of The A Team on some random channel. I had not seen it for years. But instantly I was drawn in to it. It was like I was ten years old again. I sat there transfixed until it had finished. I absolutely loved it.
It did mean I headed off out for food a little later than I intended. So I just went downstairs. And had a nice Steak and Chips with a glass of Red Wine in the bar. It was then time to make my way to the Great Malvern Theatre. To see the show. It was only five minutes down the road. I arrived there with enough time to sample a glass of their Red Wine. And to order one for the interval. Before it was time to take my seat for the show.
I was excited and proud to see my mate in action. He is playing Juan Peron. The President of Argentina, no less. He is no stranger to the stage or musicals, of course. Having played the leading roles in both the Phantom of The Opera and Les Miserables in the West End. He also very kindly performed at my fortieth birthday party, a few years ago. Recently me and him spent a cracking day out at Royal Ascot.
The show was sensational. Mike was sublime in it. The whole cast and the production is faultless. It is in many ways such a powerful story. Which does kind of hold a mirror up to society and the way the world is run. Plus of course it has some cracking songs in it. It is on at the Wycombe Swan in Buckinghamshire running from 23rd to 27th of October. I would urge you to see it, if you can. It has been getting lots of four and five star reviews. And I can totally see why. Go and see it for yourself.
Then after the show I met Mike at the Stage Door. As we had earlier agreed. We were off out for a few drinks with some of the rest of the cast. It was their opening night in Great Malvern. So drinks after that is a bit of a theatre tradition, I understand. Any excuse I say. It turned out the drinks were actually taking place in the bar of the hotel that I was staying at. Which was a bit of a result for me. It transpires some of the other performers were also staying there.
I had a fantastic time catching up with Mike and chatting to the cast. After show drinks are always the best. He is having a ball. It is quite full on though. They do eight shows every week spread over six days. They get a day off and one travel day every week. And they really are heading all over the United Kingdom. I do like being around actors, singers and dancers. There is always a good vibe about, I find. It was a brilliant night seeing an amazing show and then catching up with a Pal.
I recently spent a lovely relaxing afternoon with two very good friends. We sat and talked for ages. Had a Barbecue. Then to round things off. Me and one of them went down the pub for a few drinks.
In this crazy world where we all currently seem to be running on a treadmill. And getting nowhere fast. A whole afternoon away from it all. Just catching up with best mates. Is something to be enjoyed and even celebrated, I think.
I managed to get along to Radio 2 Live in Hyde Park. Their festival in a day last Sunday. I have done Glastonbury in the past which is great, but means sleeping in a tent. The good thing about this event is that it has the feel of a festival. But I could sleep in my own bed at the end of it all.
The line up was fantastic. But I must admit it was the lady who was headlining. Who I was looking forward to seeing the most. I arrived there at midday and managed to get in straight away. It was already starting to fill up nicely. It gave me time to have a good walk around. See what was about and on offer. And also get my bearings for when it got really busy later on.
I have to say it was all very well organised. And of course there were queues for things. Due to the sheer number of people. But it was all managed the best it possibly could be. I thought it would be rude not to at least sample a bit of what the bars had to offer. So I had a pint of the Pilsner they had on draft. Which was six pounds a pint. Now that might sound expensive. But that is not far off normal London prices to be honest.
I managed to find a nice standing area to the right hand side of the stage. Which I could get to and from quite easily. So I decided this would be my go to area. To watch the acts from throughout the day. Jo Whiley was the main host for the event. However for each and every introduction. She was joined by pretty much all of the other Radio 2 Presenters at some point. It was an excellent line up.
First on was Lenny Kravitz. He was simply wonderful. His band and him sounded amazing. He did all his big hits including his current one Five More Days Till Summer. Not only did he sound great. But he is such a cool guy.
I mean who else could pull off flared jeans, leather jacket, big hat and snakeskin Cuban heeled boots. Plus you would never guess he is almost in his mid fifties. It was a brilliant start to the live music for the day.
Up next it was Rita Ora. Who also put on a fantastic show. She was sounding and looking great to. Nothing personal against her. But due to timing restrictions. While she was on I was checking out the Real Ale and Champagne Bar’s. Although with the quality top sound set up and the big screens. I could still see and hear her perfectly. Even from right at the back of the park.
The next act were a little bit left of centre. They were a folk group collaboration. Who have a new album coming out that features folk style re-workings of many disco classics. They are called The Band Of Love. Their set included their versions of Night Fever, Gimme The Night and We Are Family. They were really good. And are clearly a very talented bunch of musicians and singers. Who got the audience singing along.
Then it was time for a trip down memory lane with an appearance from the All Saints. They did all the big hits from their impressive back catalogue. They were sounding ace. And still had all the dance moves and routines.
They looked like they were having fun. And that they were all enjoying being back together on stage. They finished their set with the hit song from the film “The Beach”, Pure Shores. Which went down very well with the Hyde Park crowd.
Next it was the duo who stepped in to replace the unwell Carrie Underwood. I would have loved to seen her live. But I have been following the careers of The Shires for a while now. So it was quality to finally get to see them play live. I am a big fan of country music. so I really like their stuff.
These two are already Britain’s most successful band of that genre. They were brilliant. Lovely people and talented performers backed by a great band. They are only going to get bigger and better. Next time they are in Nashville. I would be very happy to head over there with them. Seeing them reminded me very of my time in America.
The first ever Party in the Park style music event I went to see was one of the early Capital FM ones in Gunnersbury Park. A new Irish band called Boyzone were their performing their first two hits. Over the years I have met both Keith Duffy and Shane Lynch. Who for the record are both top blokes. The group are celebrating their 25th Anniversary this year. Which let’s face it. Is making us all feel old.
They are going to go out on one more big World Tour. Then they are going to call it a day for good. They were excellent. I have seen them live a few times. And I did honestly think they were sounding better than ever. Plus you forget what a great back catalogue of songs they had. For example I forgot they did that cover of the Bee Gees Words. That sounded sensational in the evening sunshine.
In between the live performances. They were playing out videos of some of the live studio performances from Radio 2 shows from the last year or so. A few of these were spectacular themselves.
We did also have DJ sets from Craig Charles and Ooh Gary Davies. Which were fun. The sound quality of the event was perfect. But I would expect nothing less from my BBC colleagues.
The last time I had seen The Manic Street Preachers was at the Glastonbury Festival. They were great that time and they were equally as good or even better this time around. They sounded fantastic. They played all their huge hits. It was a very slick and entertaining set from a power house of a band. Plus their latest single is excellent.
The whole day flew by really quickly. Aided by the great live music. And a few more of the Portobello Pilsners beers. Fuelled by a burger, crisps and some doughnuts. I was more than ready to dance and sing along with the headline act.
I mentioned earlier the Capital Fm Party in the Parks. Well I went to the first one they held in Hyde Park. Sadly it was raining so hard that day. I had to leave two songs in to a certain Australian female singers performance. I had now waited a long time for the chance to see her again. So I was more than ready for this. And very excited to see her perform live.
The current host of the Radio 2 Breakfast Show Chris Evans came out to introduce her. As he had promised to do when she was last on his show. She came out looking stunning in a pink dress. And went straight in to one of her big hits. After the first song. She then sang a few lines acapella from some of her late eighties hits. The set list was a real celebration of her glorious and long career. In the year that she has celebrated her fiftieth birthday.
After a quick outfit change in to a nice little black number. She was back out for more fun. I was having a great time singing and dancing away to hit after hit. Then she goes into the song that I would love to do as a duet with her Especially For You. Although I had to make do with singing the male part of the song. With the rest of the forty-eight thousand crowd. But it was still magical. Specially when Jason Donovan then joined her on stage halfway through to re-create the original dance moves. That was a brilliant moment!
The surprises did not end there. A little later on she started singing her debut single, I should Be So Lucky. During this she references the fact that it does sound a little bit like Never Gonna Give You Up. She sings a little bit of that. Then on walks the man whose song it is Rick Astley. To do a brilliant version of it with Kylie. He then stays on stage to do a version of the hit she had with Robbie Williams, Kids.
It was a brilliant end to a great day of live music in London. She is fantastic live. A great singer and dancer. Who is very at ease talking to her audience. The complete, albeit tiny package. She really did not disappoint. You do not have a career that lasts that long unless you are the real deal. And she very much is. Would I marry her tomorrow if the chance arose? Of course I would. Who wouldn’t? You have to love Kylie!
I will be having a look around Buckingham Palace soon. I will let you know what that was like next time we speak.
I am also finally getting round to seeing the brilliant “new” musical “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie” next week. And today I am off to Wembley to see the mighty Spurs play Liverpool.
Have fun and we will catch up again in a couple of weeks. Cheers Neil