So this Sunday just gone was as close to my idea of perfection as I think it’s possible to get, all thanks to a combination of three things: being in my favourite city in the world, with a good majority of my fantastic friends all to see an extremely gifted artist and pure all round lovely gentleman Hadley Fraser.
The gig was held in the Studio area of London’s St James Theatre, the first newly built theatre complex in the city for 30 years, and what a venue it is! It’s fresh and contemporary but with a hint of classic chic in the décor, I fell in love with it when I went for a cheeky post birthday tour prior to its opening back in September. It’s theatre seats 312, with the studio area downstairs has room for a hundred or so, making it, in my humble opinion, the perfect space for this kind of intimate concert. It’s all well and good a quiet space when I went for my sneak peek, but what struck me when I first entered the building this time was how I felt the atmosphere had changed, almost if it was charged and ready for the evening ahead, just like me and Naomi were!
Speaking of, here is where I’d like to begin my ‘Reasons I love Hadley’ list with the fact that his great talent and general loveliness as a human being has allowed me to meet some of the most amazing people who I now count among my closest friends, and I wouldn’t change that sense of warmth and camaraderie we share all thanks to this one man in particular for absolutely anything in the world. It’s so special to me and I have to say I’ve rarely experienced a sense of acceptance quite like it, so sincere thanks to all of you, old and new faces 🙂
As you know if you’ve read my previous blog documenting my birthday weekend in London, you’ll have seen that one of my best mementos was a teddy bear given to me by my friends Lou and Daneyka. Thing is, he isn’t just any teddy bear… he’s my aptly named ‘Little Hadley’ so named for the fact heis wearing a red and white checked shirt very similar to and glasses just like those his human counterpart wears, and a miniature version of the ‘Team Hadley’ bracelet that the three of us wear. Now, I’d been torn whether to bring him but he seemed to go down an absolute storm with my pals, I’m pretty sure Hayley would’ve took him home with her if I hadn’t got him back! 😉
Come around 5:30 – 5:45, we’re all chatting away and all of a sudden I’m pretty sure I hear a familiar voice from behind me, very swiftly followed by a chorus of ‘Kerrie, go say hi!’ Sure enough, Hadley and Rosalie had walked in the door. 😀 I gave them a few minutes to do what they needed to do, then Naomi, Lou, Kristine and I wandered over. He greeted me with his customary ‘Hello Kerrie!’ complete with cuddle and kiss and once hellos and more cuddles were exchanged all round I got hold of the carrier bag I had with me which had his gift in and held it out to him: ‘I know you told me not to, but that’s for you’
‘Ahhh Kerrie! What you doin’? Thankyou sweetheart!’
‘You’re welcome, have fun getting into it by the way’
Hadley chuckled, looking in the bag: ‘Why? Is it like Fort Knox?’
‘Ha, yes, my grandma wrapped it, she’s very fond of sellotape’ 😉
He laughed again, before his eyes fell on Little Hadley in my arms. ‘Oh! Who’s this then?
‘Ah, this is you… in teddy form!’
He threw back his head laughing: ‘I love him!’ and left us after a few more minutes, hoping we enjoyed the show and saying see you later, even shouting ‘alright guys’ to everyone else with a wave.
Shortly after, Naomi, Lou, Katy, Erin, Vicki and I decided to chance our luck and head downstairs ready for doors opening. It was hilarious: we could hear Hadley and co in full flow of sound check and occasionally Vicki and I would burst into song.
We almost got sent back upstairs but a big thankyou to the girls for fighting my corner cause of my wheelchair and the staff for letting us stay so I was able to get the best seat in the house! (Right in front of Hadley :D) Doors opening, we near enough bolted for the front table, me blushing like a mad thing as when I drove in as who should appear from a back corner with another ‘Hiya Kerrie’ but the man himself. I couldn’t believe my luck at seeing/speaking to him again in the space of 45 minutes so was a bit giggly in my returning hello 😀
* * *
The girls and I settled down ready for the fun to begin and it actually commenced a few moments before anybody stepped onstage, thanks to Lou and Naomi’s perseverance. I’d been holding onto Little Hadley and decided I wanted a picture of him onstage, so Naomi placed him up there next to a speaker and obliged, before both her and Lou insisted he stay there. This was a really good move in the end: Hadley came to get ready to introduce his set and gestured to him with a wicked grin on his face. He then proceeded to place his bottle of beer down next to him:
‘There, that’s about right’ and am pleased to report that Little Hadley stayed there all evening!
Kicking off the musical delight was the wonderful Craig Mather who I have had the joy of seeing so many times as Marius in Les Mis. As such I already knew he is a wonderfully gifted singer, but he graced us with his own material (all of which I loved) so is also a very talented songwriter. I have a feeling he’s destined for great things and would happily buy his demo tomorrow if I could, hurry and get that album released, Craig!
Hadley was also joined by a band consisting of the stunning Rosalie Craig, Nick Pini, Jim Field – Smith, Sonia Cullingford and Tom Deering, who were later christened Cold Snap. They’re a bunch of extremely talented people, and really added to my enjoyment of the evening tenfold. (Tom & Rosalie especially- more on them shortly!)
Now, as a fan of Hadley’s own material outside the world of his career in musical theatre, it was a privilege being there to see him doing what he does best and being a part of such a truthful journey through his work- his lyrics are really poignant and gave me chills throughout and his melodies are really catchy and had me dancing/swaying along depending on the mood of the song, and watching Hadley get so into his performance with that infectious smile was a treat and meant the smile never left my face, either! Most of what he played of his own stuff was new to me, particular favourites including: ‘Nureyev of SE19’, ‘Coming Around’ (‘Who can guess what that’s called?’ from Hadley after this made everyone chuckle 🙂 ), and ‘Just Let Go’. There were also all my old favourites, including How Many Times, Sheytoon’s Heading West, Herne & The Red Kite (brilliantly accompanied by Rosalie singing parts) and Driftwood, Unbound, and Furious Ball, which Tom Deering made all Debussy/ Revellian with his madly brilliant piano skills which gave the song a refreshing vibe that I really loved).
Ah, Rosalie Craig. What else can I say other than she’s wonderfully talented and stunningly beautiful? Her rendition of Tori Amos’s Baker Baker gave me chills and like with Hadley I was constantly struck by how she seems to inhabit the moment behind every word she sings, making for such a sincere and stunning performance that drew me in so absolutely that I was near enough holding my breath in awe of her. Another little thing that made her performance of it so special was seeing Hadley watching her from our corner of the stage. The look on his face was so full of pride and love that I felt instantly more endeared to them as a couple than I already was, especially after Rosalie’s many glorious smiles towards Hadley while he was doing his thing!
Lots of laughs were had, particularly due to the presence of Scott Alan, (a songwriting genius, go look him up, people) and the banter he and Hadley shared. One of many, many favourite moments was Hadley’s ‘keep it clean please, Scott, my parents are here! 😀 To get the full effect of this comical awesomeness, just watch this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-FqugDNg4s&feature=share 😀
Said comical genius was also accompanied by Hadley singing my Scott Alan favourites Take Me Away and Again, and to have Scott accompany Hadley on the piano was another moment of sheer fangirl delight on my part.
Thanks also to Hadley for introducing me to the brilliance of Darrell Scott with a stunning rendition of his song River Take Me, and to Hadley & Tom for the inclusion of Toto’s Africa as the encore… utter GENIUS 😀
As is customary by now in my experiences involving this wonderful man, the fun also carried on well after the show. Even though the weather was a bit miserable, my spirits never once dampened. Rosalie came and spoke to me briefly when she saw me, followed closely by a gentleman who I think might’ve been Hadley’s dad who bid me goodnight, and left me feeling all warm and fuzzy.
‘Hello darling, good to see you again! Enjoy?’
‘Hi Rosalie! Yes! you were fabulous as ever 🙂
‘Ah thanks. Right, I need to dash as I’m with Hadley’s parents, but when will I see you again?’
‘December, the Saturday!’
She beamed at me: ‘Oh, the Christmassy ones, brilliant!’
Hadley had passed the waiting crowd a few times, apologising profusely and assuring us he’d be back once he’d helped put the last of the instruments and stuff away. He spoke with the few behind me and definitely heard my ‘Bye, Katy!(incidentally, so sorry we weren’t able to say goodbye properly, it was ace seeing you again) because he turned on his heel and beamed at me, before coming over and placing his arm round me (HUGE thanks to Sylvia for capturing this moment on camera!). I love this about him: I’ve been privileged to meet him 6 times thus far and he’s so warm, humble and kind to me (and indeed every one of his fans) that I always feel like I’m being greeted by and talking with an old friend.
‘Hello darling!’ *cuddle*
‘Hiya Hadley, great job, we all loved Africa by the way!
*chuckling* ‘Oh that was Tom’s fault, he just loves that song, it started off as a joke in rehearsals!’
Sylvia, Lyn , Naomi and I spent a few minutes talking with him about our fave songs from the set and his plan for his album generally before he saw the camera in Sylvia’s hand, turning to me: ‘Photo? Oh course, gotta get the bear in! *poses*
‘Thanks for bringing the little guy, by the way!’
‘You’re welcome, glad you liked him, thought it’d be good for you to have a mascot!’
‘Oh it was! Have you read Northern Lights?’
‘He’s my Daemon!’ (since Sunday this is how my bear is now affectionately known, Hadley’s Little Daemon :D)
We then moved onto wishing Hadley good luck for next Saturday’s 3rd outing at St James, which Sylvia told him they’d be at: ‘ah, repeat offenders!’ He looked at me as if to say: are you coming too?’ and I had to shake my head.
‘You know I would, but it’s not fair of me to ask dad’
‘I know you would Kerrie. Speaking of, where is he?’
‘Dad? *turning round to show him* ‘Over there in the car’
Hadley chuckled: ‘Oh! Thank him for me, I know it’s a bit of a way for you!’
‘Bless ya Hadley, I will.’
‘Righto, I better go speak to some more people but I’ll see you soon, yes?
‘Yep, in December!’
‘Brilliant, see you then sweetheart!’
I said thankyou as he gave me another cuddle goodbye and I left the gig with a huge smile on my face, which still hasn’t left 😀
Something else hit me throught writing this- I genuinely cannot thank Hadley enough. He is an absolute star whose awesome music has blessed my life with so many incredible memories and many friends, and looking forward to making more. On that note: Lou, Naomi, Vicki, Katy, Erin, Rich, Helen, Ali, Steffi, Kristine, Sylvia, Lyn, Carrie, Clair, Hayley (and Hayley’s mum) and anybody else from that night I’ve forgotten to mention: I love you all 😀